Gray or Grey | Difference & Example Sentences

Gray and grey are two different spellings of the same word, used to refer to the color between white and black. It can be used as a noun to refer to the color, an adjective to describe something as being that color, and as a verb to refer to the act of becoming that color.

The spelling tends to vary based on whether you use US or UK English:

  • In US English, “gray” is standard.
  • In UK English, “grey” is more common.
Examples: Gray and grey in a sentence
The couch comes in two colors: beige and gray/grey.

It was supposed to be sunny today, but the sky is gray/grey.

Cooper’s beard is black with patches of gray/grey.

In the last few months, Peter’s hair has grayed/greyed.

While the normal meanings of gray/grey vary in spelling depending on the version of English, some special meanings are only spelled one way. For example, the tea “Earl Grey” (because it’s a proper noun), the measure of energy called the “gray,” and the “greyhound” dog breed (or the bus service named after it) never vary in spelling.

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Graying or greying

Graying/greying is the present participle of the verb gray/grey meaning “to become gray/grey.”

The same spelling distinction applies:

  • In US English, “graying” is the standard.
  • In UK English, “greying” is used.
Examples: Graying/greying in a sentence
Tricia’s hair is graying/greying prematurely, but it suits her.

Jaiden is not going bald, but he’s graying/greying.

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Grey area or gray area

Gray/grey area is a phrase used to describe an unclear situation that is open to interpretation or that has no clear set of rules. It is often used to refer to legal or moral questions.

  • In US English, “gray area” is the standard.
  • In UK English, “grey area” is used.
Examples: Gray/grey area in a sentence
Without a detailed will, the question of inheritance is a legal gray area/grey area.

Paul wanted to sublet his apartment but found that it was a bit of a gray area/grey area.

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If you want to know more about commonly confused words, definitions, and differences between US and UK spellings, make sure to check out some of our other language articles with explanations, examples, and quizzes.

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Eoghan Ryan

Eoghan has a lot of experience with theses and dissertations at bachelor's, MA, and PhD level. He has taught university English courses, helping students to improve their research and writing.