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Before we take a look at some of the differences between the two main types of English I’d like to stress that these differences are somewhat minor and with the ongoing internationalization of our modern world they could even said to be diminishing. The few differences that exist between British and American English tend rather to enrich communication than slow it down. Although not all British readers might agree, I think that the American version of spoken English is becoming more and more dominant for several reasons. Let me give you an example to show you why American English has a stronger impact on British (and Australian ) English than vice versa. When you go to the UK and switch on the TV you will see a lot of American shows, movies and films which, of course, are shown in the original, American version. Thus, especially young people watching TV will learn a lot of American vocabulary and phrases which they easily internalize and use as their own. It follows, modern British English is much more likely to be influenced by American English than the other way round because when you live in the US and watch TV you rarely will see a British show or film. Another area where US English dominates is international business. Most globally operating companies are based in the US and hence the influence of American English terminology is very strong. However, as with any issue, the more you think about it, the more variations you will encounter and it would be impossible to cover them all in one article. That’s why we’ll move on now to the differences between British and American English. Instead of giving you a comprehensive rundown of all imaginable items I’ll limit myself to a small selection of my personal observations. Spelling When it comes to different spellings there isn’t really that much to say because in the near future the world will more or less agree on one uniform version. British English has a tendency to keep the spelling of many words of

British vs.american English

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Page 1: British vs.american English

Before we take a look at some of the differences between the two main types of English I’d like to stress that these differences are somewhat minor and with the ongoing internationalization of our modern world they could even said to be diminishing.

The few differences that exist between British and American English tend rather to enrich communication than slow it down.

Although not all British readers might agree, I think that the American version of spoken English is becoming more and more dominant for several reasons. Let me give you an example to show you why American English has a stronger impact on British (and Australian ) English than vice versa.

When you go to the UK and switch on the TV you will see a lot of American shows, movies and films which, of course, are shown in the original, American version. Thus, especially young people watching TV will learn a lot of American vocabulary and phrases which they easily internalize and use as their own. It follows, modern British English is much more likely to be influenced by American English than the other way round because when you live in the US and watch TV you rarely will see a British show or film.

Another area where US English dominates is international business. Most globally operating companies are based in the US and hence the influence of American English terminology is very strong.

However, as with any issue, the more you think about it, the more variations you will encounter and it would be impossible to cover them all in one article.

That’s why we’ll move on now to the differences between British and American English. Instead of giving you a comprehensive rundown of all imaginable items I’ll limit myself to a small selection of my personal observations.

Spelling

When it comes to different spellings there isn’t really that much to say because in the near future the world will more or less agree on one uniform version.

British English has a tendency to keep the spelling of many words of French origin whereas Americans try to spell more closely to the way they pronounce words and they remove letters not needed, which makes sense to me.

Here are some examples:British English   American English

Page 2: British vs.american English

centre centertheatre theaterrealise realizecatalogue catalogprogramme programtravelled traveledneighbour neighborgrey grayplough plowto practise (verb) to practice (verb)practice (noun) practice (verb)cheque check (noun)

Again, these are in my opinion examples for the most important spelling differences between British and American English. Of course, there are more of them and the purpose of this article is not to elaborate on orthography but to raise your awareness of the subject so you can make your own observations and draw conclusions.

There are two major standards of spoken English -- British and American English. Interestingly enough "RP" ("Received Pronunciation", which is also known as "Queen's English" or "Oxford English") is spoken only by about 5% of the UK population which means there are many different dialects to be found in the British Isles. If you travel the UK you will notice that the differences in pronunciation are stronger and wider than in the US although the latter clearer is the bigger country.

I think this is due to the fact that statistically the average US American relocates more often within the US than his British counterpart. A dialect develops when people live closely together for a longer period of time and the community creates their own unique way of speaking. No doubt people in the southern US states have that distinctive "drawl" whereas people from Boston sound pretty different. But let's focus on the major differences between RP and standard US American English:

Americans usually pronounce the letter "r" by rolling their tongue back and pressing it to the roof of their mouths whereas most British people don't pronounce the letter "r", especially when it occurs at the end of a word. In American English the words "can" and "can't" sound very much alike while in standard British English you can clearly make out a difference. (not so in most British made pop songs, though). Americans tend to pronounce words like "reduce", "produce", "induce", "seduce" -- mostly verbs that end with "duce" -- more relaxed, that means after the letter "d" there follows the vowel "u". In British English after the letter "d" you can make out a little "j". Americans have a tendency to reduce words by omitting letters. The words "facts" for example sounds in American English the same as "fax" -- the "t" is not spoken. Sometimes letters are omitted in British English such as in the words "secretary", where the "a" is not spoken.

Page 3: British vs.american English

In American English, the letter combination "cl" in words such as "cling", "climate", "club" etc., sound more fricative. You can produce these sounds by straining your vocal cords.

Word Stress sometimes is different in both versions:

British English

  American English

  ("advertisement" sounds

advertisement advertisement completely differentdetails details in both versions)

VocabularyThere are some words and terms that are either used only in British or American English. However, with new media like the internet and in the more internationalized world these words become fewer and fewer.

That's why I'll give you only a selection of the examples I've personally come across. What's really important is not that there are differences but that any British person understands any American without great difficulty and the other way round. I know I'm repeating myself, but please don't forget that British and American English are more similar than different.

British English   American Englishlift elevatorboot trunkautumn falllitter garbagecrossroad crossingtrousers pants

Well, we could add to this list a couple of hundred words and phrases and even then the vast majority of the almost 1 million English words would be the same in both versions of English.

Just one last example I'd like to give you here as it might be a bit amusing. The rather colloquial phrase "I'm totally pissed" means different things in British and American English. I won't give you the two different meanings here -- if you really want to I'm sure you'll have your own way of finding out.

Use of the Present PerfectIn 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:

"She’s lost her purse. Can you help her look for it?"In American English the following is also possible:"She lost her key. Can you help her look for it?"

Page 4: British vs.american English

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 received an email.""I’ve already answered it.""Have you completed your article yet? "

American English:

"I just received an email." OR "I’ve just received an email.""I’ve already answered it." OR "I already answered it.""Have you completed your article yet?" OR "Did you complete your article yet?"

PossessionThere are two forms to express possession in English. -- "have" or "have got"

"Do you have a computer?" "Have you got a computer?" "She hasn’t got any hobbies." "She doesn’t have any hobbies." "She has an interesting new book." "She’s got an interesting new book."

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 use the "have" ("do you have", "he doesn’t have" etc.)

Present Progressive (also known as Present Continuous)There are some verbs in British English that cannot be used in the Present Progressive while in American English they can. Here are two examples:

British English"I like this conversation more and more."

American English"I’m liking this conversation more and more."

British English"I remember this quite clearly."

Page 5: British vs.american English

American English"I’m remembering this quite clearly."

AdverbsAmericans tend to use adjectives instead of adverbs. Instead of "That’s really good" you might hear them say "That’s real good" or instead of "I’m doing very well" they say "I’m doing pretty good".

Here are some more examples: British English   American EnglishHe did that really quickly. He did that real quick.Let’s take things slowly. Let’s take things slow.Her car drives more quickly. Her car drives quicker.

PluralsThere are a number of nouns that are uncountable (they don’t have a plural form) in British English while they do have a plural form in American English.Here are some examples:

British English   American Englishtypes of accommodation accommodationtypes of food foodsa lot of fruit many foodsstrands of hair hairs

ConclusionBritish and American English are more similar than they are different. New media and globalization enable more and more people to participate in an active exchange of ideas and experiences and therefore the geographical differences in the versions of English are becoming less instead of greater