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Key differences between British and American English

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Both Americans and Britons speak in English but there are fundamental differences. The differences are in spelling, pronunciation and reference to things or activities. One of the most obvious differences is in the most loved game of 22 players. The British will call it football while Americans call it soccer. Their version of football is a different game altogether where players dress like a wicket keeper in cricket.

Did you know that American do not use the word please where Britons expect it to be? British will say please when they order for something in shop or restaurant as t hey consider the action by the persons who serve them as a personal request. Americans consider ordering as mere act to provide the waiter or store attendant with the necessary information so will not include please in their conversation.

Other outstanding differences are:

Omitting or including “u” in spelling

American English omit letter “u” when writing words like neighbor, honor and color. British English includes the “u” for the words to read as neighbor, honour and colour.

Use of present perfect tense

Speaker of British English use present perfect tense when expressing an action that happened in recent past and has an effect on present moment. For instance, they will say “I have lost my key. Help me to search for it?”

Speakers of American English will say “I lost my key. Can you help me to search for it?” In British English, it wrong to omit “have” between I and lost. American English accepts both forms. The other noticeable difference in usage of present perfect and simple past is in the words already, yet and just.

British English
  • have just had breakfast
  • I have already seen that movie
  • Have you finished your exercises yet?
American English
  • I just had breakfast or I have just had breakfast
  • I already saw that movie
  • Did you finish your exercises yet?

This is where the major differences between British and American version of English lie. There are words that are grammatically correct in both varieties but mean totally different things. Good examples are:

  1. Mean: In British English, it means tight fisted or not generous. In American English it means bad humored or angry.
  2. Pants: Americans do not use word trousers that much and if they do, it is in reference of menswear worn on the lower half. British English refers to underpants, a form of inner wear as pants.
  3. Toilet: American refer to the piece of porcelain as the toilet while in British English , it also means the entire room where it is placed.

The terminology used to refer at different parts of a vehicle also has major differences such as:

  • BE: Bonnet
  • AE: Hood
  • BE: Boot
  • AE: Trunk
  • BE: Lorry
  • AE: Truck
Cutting out some letters

Americans cut out some letters or entire words in their sentences which is rare for speakers of British English. For this case, think of “can” and “could.” When you use perception verbs such as smell, hear and see, British English requires then use of can and could but Americans can leave them out them completely in this way:

  • AE: I heard Mike making cooking dinner in the kitchen
  • BE: I could hear Mike cooking dinner in the kitchen
Express possession

British and American English will express possession in two different forms, “have got or have.” Both forms are acceptable in both versions but “have got” or hasn't got is preferred form in British English. American uses the have that is “do you have or it doesn't have.” Here are some examples of the variation.

  • Do you have some sugar?
  • Have you got some sugar?
  • She hasn't got any pets
  • She doesn't have ANY pets

To be safe when writing use consistent spelling and choose the relevant variety of English to spell check.

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