British English and American English

British vs American English



British people and American people can always understand each other – but there are a few notable differences between British English and American English

Grammar


Americans use the present perfect tense less than speakers of British English and a British teacher might mark wrong some things that an American teacher would say are correct.

US Did you do your homework yet?
Brit. Have you done your homework yet?
US I already ate.
Brit. I’ve already eaten.
In British English, ‘have got’ is often used for the possessive sense of ‘have’ and ‘have got to’ is informally used for ‘have to’. This is much less common in American English.

Brit. I’ve got two sisters.
US I have two sisters.
Brit. I’ve got to go now.
US I have to go now.
There are a number of other minor grammatical differences.

Vocabulary


There are a lot of examples of different words being used in British and American English. Here are a few of the commonest.

angry (Brit.) = mad (US)
autumn = fall
boot (of a car) = trunk
chemist’s = drug store
cupboard = closet
flat = apartment
lift = elevator
nappy = diaper
pavement = sidewalk
petrol = gas/gasoline
rubbish = trash
tap = faucet
trousers = pants

There are British words which many Americans will not understand and vice versa. There are also words which exist in both British and American English but have very different meanings.




Spelling


There are also a number of different spelling rules between British English and American English.

1 Some words that end in ‘-tre’ in British English end in ‘-ter’ in American English.

US theater, center
Brit. theatre, centre

2 Some words that end in ‘-our’ in British English end in ‘-or’ in American English.

US color, labor
Brit. colour, labour

3 Some words are shorter in American English than in British English.

US catalog, program
Brit. catalogue, programme

There are other minor spelling differences between British and American English.

American-British Spelling Differences