Curb or Kerb?

by Craig Shrives

The Difference between "Curb" and "Kerb"

"Curb" and "kerb" are easy to confuse. In the US, the "curb" is the stone edging of the sidewalk. In the UK (and outside North America), where the sidewalk is called the pavement, the spelling is "kerb." This, however, is not the end of the story because "to curb" (meaning "to control" or "to limit") has the same spelling in American English and British English.

Here are some examples with the nouns "curb" and "kerb":
  • When walking on the sidewalk, keep away from the curb. ()
  • When walking on the pavement, keep away from the kerb. ()
Here are some examples with the verb "to curb":
  • We must curb our spending. ( and )
  • We must kerb our spending. ( and )
  • ("Kerb" is never a verb.)
curb or kerb?

Ready for the Test?


The verb "to curb" means "to control" or "to limit."

For example:
  • Try to curb your enthusiasm.
  • The US will curb its influence over the next decade.
Even though it is quite rare, there is a corresponding noun too. It means "something that limits or controls." For example:
  • There will be a curb on spending.
  • (Here, "curb" is a noun.)
In this US, "curb" is used for the stone edging of a sidewalk. In British English, the spelling for this word "kerb."
  • We can't all be heroes, because somebody has to sit on the curb and applaud when they go by. (American actor Will Rogers)


Americans don't need to worry about the word "kerb." It doesn't exist in American English. However, for Brits, "kerb" is the stone edging of a pavement. For example:
  • She tripped over the curb. () ()
  • She tripped over the kerb. () ()

A Video Summary

Watch a video showing 10 big differences between British English and American English.
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See Also

adverse or averse? affect or effect? appraise or apprise? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? imply or infer? its or it's? material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? cannot or can not? who's or whose? What are nouns? What are verbs? List of easily confused words

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