Differences Between British and American English: The bulk of English as a Second Language (ESL)/English as a Foreign Language (EFL) programs teach American English and British English, while there are likely many more. There are clearly preferred variants that are employed, despite the fact that it is generally accepted that no one version is “correct“. Instead than comparing the two English dialects, this essay aims to highlight their contrasts.
The English spoken in the US is called American English. It comprises all varieties of English spoken in the United States. The English spoken in the UK is known as British English. It comprises all varieties of English spoken in the UK. Pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary (lexis), spelling, punctuation, idioms, and date and number formats are among the differences between American and British English.
Early in the 17th century, British colonization brought the English language to America. Because of the power of the British empire, it also spread to several other regions of the globe. American and British English speakers began to differ from one another in a number of ways over time. American English, a new dialect, resulted from this.
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1. Minor Grammatical Variations: Between American and British English, there are not many grammatical differences. Of course, there are situations when the language we use may differ. But generally, we adhere to the same grammatical conventions. There are some discrepancies despite this. Now, let’s find out some of the disparities between the American and British English.
2. Collective Nouns: There are some minor grammatical distinctions between the two English dialects. First, consider collective nouns. Using collective nouns, one can refer to a group of people.
American English collective nouns are singular. The terms “staff“, “band,” and “team,” for instance, refer to teams of employees, musicians, and athletes, respectively. As they say in America, “The band is good.”
But in British English, collective nouns can be either singular or plural. A British individual would say, “The team is playing today” or “The team are playing tonight.”
3. Use of the Present Perfect: The present perfect is a tense used in British English to describe an activity that took place recently and has an impact on the present. For instance, I’ve lost my pen. Can you help me find it?
It’s also feasible to say the following in American English: I lost my pen. Can you help me find it?
The aforementioned would not be regarded accurate in British English. Both variations are nonetheless typically recognized in American English. Additionally, the words already, just, and yet are used differently in British and American English when referring to the present perfect and simple past.
I just had dinner.
I already saw that movie.
Have you finished all your chores yet?
I’ve just had dinner.
I’ve already seen that movie.
Have you finished all your chores yet?
Two Possession Expression Forms
In English, there are two ways to convey possession: ‘have got’ or ‘have’.
Do you have a book?
Have you got a book?
He hasn’t got any money.
He doesn’t have any money.
She has a smartphone.
She has got a smartphone.
While both forms are valid (and recognized in both British and American English), have got is typically favored in British English (have you got, he hasn’t got, etc.), while most American English speakers use have (do you have, she doesn’t have, etc.).
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4. Past Tense Verbs: The past tense of irregular verbs also has a few minor peculiarities. In American English, the word “learned” is used in the past tense. There are two options for British English: learned and learnt. The same principle holds true for burnt and burned, leant and leaned.
Brits typically use the -t ending, while Americans typically use the -ed ending. Americans frequently employ the -en ending for various irregular verbs in the past participle form.
For instance, a British person would say, “I have never got caught,” as opposed to an American who could say, “I have never gotten caught.” In the past tense, Americans use both got and gotten. The British exclusively use got. Regarding these little variations in the past tenses of irregular verbs, don’t worry too much. Both techniques are easily understood by people in both nations, while Americans prefer to view the British approach as being more correct.
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5. Tag Questions: A grammatical construction known as a tag question converts a statement into a question. For instance, ‘The wine tastes so good, doesn’t it?’ or ‘You don’t want tea, do you?’
The tag contains a pronoun and the verb be, have, or do that goes with it. People are more likely to respond and concur with the speaker when tags are used. Although less frequently than Brits, Americans also employ tag questions.
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6. The Verb Get: The word “get” has “gotten” as past participle in American English.
You’ll hear people say:
“She’s gotten much better at responding to essay questions,” in American English.
“She’s gotten much better at responding to essay questions,” in British English, you’ll hear.
The phrase “have got” is most usually used to indicate “have” in British English. It’s interesting to note that the British participle “got” rather than “gotten” is used in the US when referring to this version. Americans will also use the words “have got to” which also means, “have to” to describe commitments.
I’ve got to give it my all.
I’ve got to attend to some business in Dubai.
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7. Vocabulary: The language used makes up the majority of the distinctions between British and American English. In the two varieties, some words have different meanings. For instance:
Mean: American English: irate, unfunny British English definition of this word is stingy and unkind.
American English: Please stop treating your sister so meanly!
While to you’ll hear:
They’re so mean that they can’t even pay for a loaf of bread, in British English.
There are a lot more instances (too many for me to list here). Your dictionary will identify the many meanings in its definition of the phrase if there are variations in usage. Additionally, a lot of vocabulary words are utilized in one form but not the other. The language used to describe cars is among the best instances of this.
a. Hood in American English and bonnet in British English
b. British English boots; American English trunks
c. British English lorry; American English truck
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8. Spelling: Here are some examples of how British and American spellings frequently differ:
Several nouns, such as labor and labor, humour and humor, and savior and saviour, end in -or in American English but in -our in British English.
Words that finish in “-ize” and “-ise” can be found in both American and British English, such as sanitise/sanitize and mobilise/mobilize.
The simplest approach to check your spelling is to use the spell-check feature of your word processor and choose either American or British English.
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Overall, it can be said that there is not much of a difference between the two versions. Between British and American English, there are many more similarities than differences. The gap between American and British English, in our opinion, is frequently exaggerated. If you can grasp the first style, you should be able to understand the other.
Except for a few regional dialects, the bulk of Americans and Britons can interact with ease. They trade tunes, TV shows, and books with one another. They sing each other’s songs as well. They even make fun of each other’s accents!
Edeh Samuel Chukwuemeka ACMC, is a Law Student and a Certified Mediator/Conciliator in Nigeria. He is also a Developer with knowledge in HTML, CSS, JS, PHP and React Native. Samuel is bent on changing the legal profession by building Web and Mobile Apps that will make legal research a lot easier.