If you are reading this, you most likely feel you would need a complete list of differences between British and American English. And we have both good and bad news for you! Good news: we’ve put together a looooong list of differences between the two and it’s waiting for you below. Bad news? Well, the differences between American and British English include features we cannot list in an article, such as: accents, pronunciation, cultural background, formality etc. For these language features, you would need to get in touch with a teacher (hey, we happen to know some excellent coaches!) and have a 360 cultural immersion!
Curated with love by: Suzanne Pilch, mpec Partner, ICF Certified Coach, MA of TESoL
Tutti i contenuti sotto sono stati scritti in inglese per aiutarvi a esercitarvi nella lettura. Se avete bisogno di aiuto per capire certi termini o concetti, contattateci subito! ❤️
British and American English can be differentiated in three ways:
o Differences in language use conventions: meaning and spelling of words, grammar
and punctuation differences.
o Vocabulary: There are a number of important differences, particularly in business
o Culture-driven: Differences in the ways of using English dictated by the different cultural values of the two countries.
As mentioned above, we will be focusing on the most tedious ones here, namely: spelling, grammar and vocabulary.
Spelling and Punctuation
One of the most obvious differences in American and British spelling is the use of ‘ize’ in the place of ‘ise’ or vice versa. But there is A LOT more!
Vocabulary Differences between American and British English
The Origin of the Differences
The British actually introduced the language to the Americas when they reached these lands by sea between the 16th and 17th centuries. At that time, spelling had not yet been standardised. It took the writing of the first dictionaries to set in stone how these words appeared.
In the UK, the dictionary was compiled by London-based scholars. Meanwhile, in the United States, the lexicographer was a man named Noah Webster. Allegedly, he changed how the words were spelled to make the American version different from the British as a way of showing cultural independence from its mother country.
In terms of speech, the differences between American and British English actually took place after the first settlers arrived in America.
These groups of people spoke using what was called rhotic speech, where the ‘r’ sounds of words are pronounced.
Meanwhile, the higher classes in the UK wanted to distinguish the way they spoke from the common masses by softening their pronunciation of the ‘r’ sounds.
Since the elite even back then were considered the standard for being fashionable, other people began to copy their speech, until it eventually became the common way of speaking in the south of England.