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Differences Between American and British English

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There are many varieties of English language. American English and British English are the main varieties that are taught all over the world. ESL (English as a second language) and EFL (English as a foreign language) students often confuse and search about which version is correct American or British English?

It is accepted that no variety is “correct” and all varieties are “correct” in where they are spoken.

There are some important differences between American and British English: Pronunciation, Vocabulary, Spelling.

1. DATES

British English day/month/year
ex. 10 October 1984

American English month/day/year
ex. October 10 1984

2. O and OU

British English, the standard way of writing words might include either the letter O or the letters ou.
ex. colour, humour, honour, behaviour.

American English use only o.
ex. color, humor, honor, behavior.

3. HYPHENS

In British English hyphens used to connect prefix with the main word.
ex. pre-emption, pre-trial, co-operation

In American English it is less common.
ex. preemption, pretrial, cooperation

4. Z or S?

In British English s is used in such words as recognise, authorise, analyse, paralyse.

In American English z is used in such words as recognize, authorize, analyze, paralyze.

5. These words are always end in -ise whether you are using British or American English.

6. L or LL?

British English LL is used.
ex. travelled, counselled, modelled.

American English L is used.
ex. traveled, counseled, modeled.

7. -E or -UE?

In British English, the final silent -e or -ue is retained in such words as analogue, axe and catalogue.

In American English, it is omitted: analog, ax, and catalog.




8.-EABLE or -ABLE?

The silent e, produced when forming some adjectives with a suffix is generally used in British English in such words as likeable, unshakeable, and ageing.

In American English, it is generally left out: likable, unshakable, and aging.

The e is however sometimes used in American English where it affects the sound of the preceding consonant: traceable or manageable.

9. -CE or -SE?

In British English the verb that relates to a noun ending in -ce is sometimes given the ending -se.
For example, advice (noun) / advise (verb), device/devise, licence/license, practice/practise.

American English uses -se for both the noun and verb forms of these words.

It also uses -se for other nouns which in British English are spelt -ce, including defense, offense, pretense.

10. PREPOSITIONS

In American English, it is acceptable to omit prepositions in certain situations.

In British English, this habit is less common.
For example, an American lawyer might find a certain clause in a contract to be ‘likely enforceable’.

A British colleague would be more likely to say that it was ‘likely to be enforceable’.

An American civil rights activist might ‘protest discrimination’, while his British colleagues would ‘protest against discrimination’.

11. HAVE and GOT

In American English it is quite acceptable to use the word got without have in sentences like ‘I got two tickets for the show tonight’.

In British English, it is more usual to say ‘I’ve got two tickets for the show tonight’.




12. PAST TENSE VERBS

The past tense of learn in American English is learned.

British English has the option of learned or learnt.

The same rule applies to dreamed and dreamt, burned and burnt, leaned and leant.

Americans tend to use the –ed ending; Brits tend to use the -t ending.

13. Directional suffix -ward(s)

British English forwards, towards, rightwards, etc.;

American English forward, toward, rightward.

 

14. Full stops/Periods in abbreviations

In American English, we write “Mr.”, “Mrs.”, “St.”, “Dr.” etc.

In British it is usually “Mr”, “Mrs”, “St”, “Dr”, etc.

15. Collective nouns

We use collective nouns to refer to a group of individuals.

In American English, collective nouns are singular. For example, staff refers to a group of employees; band refers to a group of musicians; team refers to a group of athletes. Americans would say, “The band is good.”

But in British English, collective nouns can be singular or plural. You might hear someone from Britain say, “The team are playing tonight” or “The team is playing tonight.”

Some key vocabulary differences.

 

  Download PDF Here

Also check:

250 Phrasal Verbs (Free PDF)
5 Free Books To Improve Your English
A Quick Way To Learn English Tenses (Free Pdf)

 

 

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Asghar Ali

How I will attain a partner to improve my English?

[…] Differences between British and American English can also cause confusion. You can learn about those differences in our lesson here. […]

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