How to Use the British English Translation of WordPress

If you want to use WordPress in the Queen’s English, you’re in luck. There’s an en-gb translation and it’s been updated for WordPress 3.8. With the new admin design, British English WordPress installs will spell words like “colour” and “customise” in the proper English style.

en-gb Translation
en_gb Translation

The easiest way to get an installation that uses proper English is to download the full package from the en_GB WordPress homepage. This download offers the latest version of WordPress with the British translation files already in place and referenced in wp-config.php. Please note that installing this entire zip package is only useful if you’re starting from scratch.

How to Manually Add Translation Files for an Existing Site

If you have an existing site where you’d like to add British translation files, here’s how:

Step 1. Download the British English .mo language file from the en_GB homepage. You can pull this out of the /languages/ folder in the package. As a bonus, if you’re using Twenty Fourteen, you can also find a theme translation within this folder.

Step 2. Create a new directory under wp-content called languages: /wp-content/languages/

Step 3. Upload the en_GB.mo file to the languages directory.

Step 4. Add this line to your wp-config.php file in the languages section:

define('WPLANG', 'en_GB');

Save your changes to wp-config.php and upload it to your server. You should now have proper English displayed throughout your installation.

Note that this same process applies to any other language files as well. Hopefully, this small courtesy will bring some cheer to our friends across the pond!

17 Comments


  1. Good to know that Sarah but over the years I’ve become used to color and the like – wouldn’t want to put colour in my stylesheet and mess it up.

    Thanks for the tip.

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  2. So if Scotland leaves the UK, will GB be deprecated?

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    1. Doubtful, the full country title is The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. GB would still be valid within that context, as there will still be a union with Wales.

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  3. I am an American in Europe and somewhere along the line my macbook switched to GB so I go with colour to get rid of the pesky red underlines.

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  4. Being a Canadian our spelling is very much like the British, ie: colour, neighbour, favourite etc. However I just use the main download and put up with those pesky red underlines. :)

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  5. Can anyone tell where to get the .mo file? The instructions are clear, but all I find on getting the language file in the first place is go to http://en-gb.wordpress.org/ but all I find there is the full standard WordPress installation files (but in British English). Thank you.

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  6. Regardless, how many watch (can’t avoid) the awful BBC tech show, Click?

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  7. @Len -I’m with you Len.
    No problem really.
    It upsets my wife when she sees the US spelling but I just accept it.

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  8. Thanks very much for this, I was hitting my head on changing my new site to en-GB earlier in the week. Just one point – the manual steps you describe work, but seems like WP then wants to do a 3.8 en-GB upgrade (from plain 3.8). Certainly before that ‘upgrade’ happens it is still ‘color’ on the Profile page for instance (but changed in other places).

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  9. Ian, and others. The easiest way to convert to en-GB would appear to be simply to do step 4 above – edit WPLANG in config.php After this WordPress will prompt an ‘upgrade’ to 3.8 en-GB – not immediately though, timing depends on Cron settings?? And the update will install all the language files.

    Quoting from http://codex.wordpress.org/Installing_WordPress_in_Your_Language:
    >>Note that if the .mo and .po files don’t exist for a language code called for in wp-config.php then there is no error message, but the code is still used in language_attributes() This is useful for those of us whose language is similar enough to en_US not to require translation, but who don’t want en-US as the language tag in the blog, instead wanting some other variant of English<<

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  10. Thanks John! With 3.8 installed already, I checked and added “en_GB” to wp-config.php, but still nothing that I would call an error. But in my dashboard I then found I could update to 3.8 for British English. The WordPress Updates page says I now have the right version of English for me. It would be nice if more major British brands could show the same respect for British English!

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  11. It looks like Twenty Fourteen hasn’t been translated for en_UK yet.

    You can go to the following link and once signed in with your wordpress.org username you can add the missing translations, then once approved by one of the translation validators they should then be delivered via WordPress automatic updates to your install.

    http://translate.wordpress.org/projects/wp/dev/twentyfourteen/en-gb/default

    If you want to download the .mo & .po translations manually have a look at the links in the install section on the en_AU page and substitute en-au in the links with en-uk.

    http://en-au.wordpress.org/

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