Saturday, 27 August 2016

The difference between British & American English...





American English to British English
Sometimes students are confused about differences between American and British English. Generally speaking, it's true that most Americans will understand British English speakers and vice versa. However, as you become more advanced, it's important to decide which form you would prefer to speak.

American - British English Major Differences  

The biggest differences between American and British English are in pronunciation and vocabulary choices. Standard pronunciation in American English is flatter and not nearly as musical as British English. American's speak what is known as General American whereas UK speakers use what's known as Received Pronunciation.
There are a few minor grammar differences between American and British English, most notably differences in past simple and present perfect usage with words such as 'just' and 'already, as well as a few past participles such as 'gotten' in American English and 'got' in British English. There are also a few minor spelling differences between the two.


While there are certainly many more varieties of English, American English and British English are the two varieties that are taught in most ESL programs. Generally, it is agreed that no one version is "correct" however, there are certainly preferences in use. The three major differences between between American and British English are:


  • Pronunciation - differences in both vowel and consonants, as well as stress and intonation
  • Vocabulary - differences in nouns and verbs, especially phrasal verb usage
  • Spelling - differences are generally found in certain prefix and suffix forms

The most important rule of thumb is to try to be consistent in your usage. If you decide that you want to use American English spellings then be consistent in your spelling (i.e. The color of the orange is also its flavour - color is American spelling and flavour is British), this is of course not always easy - or possible. The following guide is meant to point out the principal differences between these two varieties of English.

Use of the Present Perfect

In British English the present perfect is used to express an action that has occurred in the recent past that has an effect on the present moment. For example:

I've lost my key. Can you help me look for it?
In American English the following is also possible:
I lost my key. Can you help me look for it?

In British English the above would be considered incorrect. However, both forms are generally accepted in standard American English. Other differences involving the use of the present perfect in British English and simple past in American English include already, just and yet.

British English:

I've just had lunch
I've already seen that film
Have you finished your homework yet?

American English:

I just had lunch OR I've just had lunch
I've already seen that film OR I already saw that film.
Have your finished your homework yet? OR Did you finish your homework yet?

Possession

There are two forms to express possession in English. Have or Have got

Do you have a car?
Have you got a car?
He hasn't got any friends.
He doesn't have any friends.
She has a beautiful new home.
She's got a beautiful new home.

While both forms are correct (and accepted in both British and American English), have got (have you got, he hasn't got, etc.) is generally the preferred form in British English while most speakers of American English employ the have (do you have, he doesn't have etc.)

The Verb Get

The past participle of the verb get is gotten in American English. Example He's gotten much better at playing tennis. British English - He's got much better at playing tennis.


Probably the major differences between British and American English lies in the choice of vocabulary. Some words mean different things in the two varieties for example:

Mean: (American English - angry, bad humored, British English - not generous, tight fisted)

Rubber: (American English - condom, British English - tool used to erase pencil markings)

There are many more examples (too many for me to list here). If there is a difference in usage, your dictionary will note the different meanings in its definition of the term. Many vocabulary items are also used in one form and not in the other. One of the best examples of this is the terminology used for automobiles.


  • American English - hood
    British English - bonnet
  • American English - trunk
    British English - boot
  • American English - truck
    British English - lorry

Once again, your dictionary should list whether the term is used in British English or American English.

For a more complete list of the vocabulary differences between British and American English use this British vs. American English vocabulary tool.

Prepositions

There are also a few differences in preposition use including the following:


  • American English - on the weekend
    British English - at the weekend
  • American English - on a team
    British English - in a team
  • American English - please write me soon
    British English - please write to me soon


Past Simple/Past Participles

The following verbs have two acceptable forms of the past simple/past participle in both American and British English, however, the irregular form is generally more common in British English (the first form of the two) and the regular form is more common to American English.

  • Burn
    Burnt OR burned
  • Dream
    dreamt OR dreamed
  • Lean
    leant OR leaned
  • Learn
    learnt OR learned
  • Smell
    smelt OR smelled
  • Spell
    spelt OR spelled
  • Spill
    spilt OR spilled
  • Spoil
    spoilt OR spoiled
Spelling

Here are some general differences between British and American spellings:

Words ending in -or (American) -our (British) color, colour, humor, humour, flavor, flavour etc.
Words ending in -ize (American) -ise (British) recognize, recognise, patronize, patronise etc.

The best way to make sure that you are being consistent in your spelling is to use the spell check on your word processor (if you are using the computer of course) and choose which variety of English you would like. As you can see, there are really very few differences between standard British English and standard American English. However, the largest difference is probably that of the choice of vocabulary and pronunciation.

American - British Vocabulary Differences

The following list provides American English equivalents to British English words which are arranged in alphabetical order.

American English

British English

antenna
aerial
mad
angry
anyplace
anywhere
fall
autumn
bill
bank note
attorney
barrister, solicitor
cookie
biscuit
hood
bonnet
trunk
boot
suspenders
braces
janitor
caretaker
drug store
chemist's
french fries
chips
the movies
the cinema
rubber
condom
patrolman
constable
stove
cooker
wheat
corn, wheat
crib
cot
thread
cotton
wreck
crash
intersection
crossroads
drapes
curtains
checkers
draughts
thumbtack
drawing-pin
divided highway
dual carriageway
pacifier
dummy
trashcan
dust-bin, rubbish-bin
garbage can
dustbin, rubbish-bin
garbage collector
dustman
generator
dynamo
motor
engine
engineer
engine driver
movie
film
apartment
flat
overpass
flyover
yard
garden
gear-lshift
gear-lever
alumnus
graduate
boiler
grill
first floor
ground floor
rubbers
gumshoes, wellington boots
sneakers
gymshoes, tennis-shoes
purse
handbag
billboard
hoarding
vacation
holiday
vacuum cleaner
hoover
sick
ill
intermission
interval
sweater
jersey, jumper, pullover, sweater
pitcher
jug
elevator
lift
truck
lorry
baggage
luggage
raincoat
mackintosch, raincoat
crazy
mad
highway
main road
corn
maize
math
maths
stingy
mean
freeway
motorway
diaper
nappy
vicious, mean
nasty
noplace
nowhere
private hospital
nursing home
optometrist
oculltist, optician
liquor store
off-license
kerosene
paraffin
sidewalk
pavement
peek
peep
gasoline
petrol
mail
post
mailbox
postbox
mailman, mail carrier
postman
potato chips
potato crisps
baby carriage
pram
bar
pub
rest room
public toilet
blow-out
puncture
stroller
push-chair
line
queue
railroad
railway
railway car
railway carriage
spool of thread
reel of cotton
round trip
return (ticket)
call collect
reverse charges
raise
rise (in salary)
pavement
road surface
traffic circle
roudabout
eraser
rubber
garbage, trash
rubbish
sedan
saloon (car)
Scotch tape
sellotape
store
shop
muffler
silencer
one-way
single (ticket)
someplace
somewhere
wrench
spanner
faculty
staff (of a university)
oil-pan
sump
dessert
sweet
candy
sweets
faucet
tap
spigot
tap (outdoors)
cab
taxi
dish-towel
tea-towel
semester
term
panti-hose
tights
schedule
timetable
can
tin
turnpike
toll motorway
flashlight
torch
hobo
tramp
pants
trousers
cuffs
turn-ups
subway
underground railway
shorts
underpants
shoulder (of road)
verge (of road)
vest
waistcoat
closet
wardrobe
wash up
wash your hands
windshield
windscreen
fender
wing
zipper
zip

I might have skipped some unintentionally, however these will give a clear understanding.

American to British English Quiz

Replace the American English word in italics with a British English word.
  1. I'd like to hang the drapes tonight. Do you have time?
  2. We took the elevator to the 10th floor.
  3. Would you like to see a movie tonight?
  4. Have you seen Tim's new apartment yet? It's very nice.
  5. Run down to the drug store and buy some aspirin please. 
  6. Let's go to the bar and get a drink.
  7. I'll take the garbage out before I leave tomorrow morning.
  8. Take the second exit at the traffic circle.
  9. Let's get have some potato chips with lunch. 
  10. Could you hand me the flashlight so I can take a look in the closet?
Answers
  1. curtains
  2. lift
  3. film
  4. flat
  5. chemist's
  6. pub
  7. rubbish
  8. roundabout
  9. crisps
  10. torch

British to American English Quiz

Replace the British word in italics with an American English word.
  1. We need to find a public toilet soon.
  2. Let's get the pram and take a walk with Jennifer. 
  3. I'm afraid I had a puncture and had to get it fixed.
  4. Could you bring in that tin of tuna over there?
  5. He puts his trousers on like any other person.
  6. She's very mean with her money. Don't ask her for any help.
  7. I generally don't wear a suit with a waistcoat.
  8. We should ask a constable for help.
  9. Let's go to the off-license and get some whiskey. 
  10. Get on queue and I'll get us something to eat.
Answers
  1. rest room
  2. baby carriage
  3. blow-out
  4. can
  5. pants
  6. stingy
  7. vest
  8. patrolman
  9. liquor store
  10. line
 Happy Knowing Folks!!!