One of my current projects is to rewrite the website of one of the region’s biggest motor companies. This morning, I was looking at their ‘About Us’ pages when I happened upon some information about their Customer Care Program.
It got me thinking. Is it a Customer Care Program in the UK? Or a Customer Care Programme?
Program or Programme?
Apparently, the word ‘program’ was predominantly used in the UK until the 19th century, when the spelling ‘programme’ became more common — mainly as a result of influence from French, which has the same word ‘programme’.
So, if you’re using the word in British English, they you should almost always use ‘programme’.
The one exception is when you are referring to the word in the context of computing. A computer program should always be the shorter version of the word.
So, in British English:
- You can take advantage of our Customer Care Programme
- I can’t get this program to run on my PC
- My favourite television programme is Doctor Who
However, if you’re writing in American English you should always use the word ‘program’, whatever the context. The same is generally true of Australian English, where ‘program’ is also mainly used (although ‘programme’ is still in common usage).
So, if you want someone to ‘get with the program’, you probably want to be using the American version. Or don’t use that horrible phrase at all, of course.
As a verb
Using the word as a verb follows much the same rules.
If you want to tell your computer to do something, you will program it. For example, ‘it is easy to program this PC’.
However, if you’re using British English and want to programme anything else, use the longer version. For example ‘the next stage of the plan is programmed for next year’.
So, my clients now have a Customer Care Programme. Lovely.