Differences Between British and American English

If you’re learning to speak English in the British form, you may have noticed that there are differences in the way that Americans speak the language. You’d notice the same thing if you were learning American English and listened to a conversation between two British people. Although it’s the same language, there are differences in terms of vocabulary, use of nouns and verbs, and spelling. In this article, you’ll learn how to spot some of these differences.

Vocabulary Differences

Vocabulary of american and british people

Some of the differences in vocabulary between the two forms of English can be confusing. Even native English speakers may not understand words used in the opposite form of the language that they speak.

  • For example, what Americans would refer to as an “elevator”, the British would call a “lift”. Both groups of people are referring to the same object, but a different word is being used by each group to describe that object.

You may want to become familiar with some of the more common words that are used in everyday language.

  • In American English, the place for storing your bread is called a “bread box“. A British person calls this object a “bread bin“.
  • What’s called a bus in American English is called a coach in British vocabulary. Another American English term is pants, while the British version is trousers.
  • In American English, a person who sell’s real estate is called a “real estate agent“. In Britain, they are called an “estate agent

Takeaway: American and British English are very similar but have several differences in vocabulary.

Nouns and Verbs

Language differences of nouns and verbs

Collective nouns are used differently in each form of the language. An example of a collective noun would be “team” or “committee”. In British English, collective nouns can be used with singular or plural verb forms.

  • An example of the singular form might be, “The team was in agreement.” The plural form could be, “The team were always arguing with each other.

In American English, collective nouns usually use a singular verb form.

  • An example could be, “The band was terrific last night.” Plural pronouns can be used also – “The band played their best show last night.

Takeaway: Nouns & verbs are used differently in England and the USA.

Spelling

If you’ve ever read something written by an American author, you may have noticed that certain words are spelled differently by British authors. There are many commonly confused words in both forms of the English language. Words that end in the letters “or” in American English are spelled with “our” in British English.

  • An example would be the word “color”, used by Americans. The same word spelled by a British person would be “colour”.

Another difference is in American words that end with the letters “ze”. The same words in British English use the letters “se”.

  • An example would be “analyze” (America) and “analyse” (British).

These are just some of the differences between American and British English. If you’re having trouble understanding these differences, there are tools available online to help translate one form of English to the other. Grammarly is a very powerful tool that can help make this process easy.

British Use of Present Perfect

In London, England the present perfect is used to express an action that has occurred in the recent past with present effects. It is common in conversation and can be used in both positive and negative sentences. For example,

  • I’ve studied English for many years, but I’m still not very good at it.”
  • I was really tired yesterday after work, so I went to bed early.

FAQs – American and British English

Q: What is the main difference between British English and American English?

The main difference between British English and American English is pronunciation – differences in vowel and consonants. For example, the letter “a” is pronounced differently in different words. In “bat”, it is pronounced as in “rat”; but in “father”, it is pronounced as in “cat”. Additionally, the letter “r” is sometimes not pronounced at all in British English, as in the word “schedule”.

Q: Is American English better than British?

There’s no easy answer to this question – both American English and British English have their own unique benefits and drawbacks. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference as to which one is “better.”

Q: Is British or American English easier?

In general, American English has fewer regional accents than British English, which can make it slightly easier to understand for non-native speakers. However, British English is often considered to be more “proper” or “formal,” so there are definitely advantages to learning that version of the language.

Q: Does British English use S or Z?

British English typically uses an S where American English would use a Z. For example, “realize” is spelled “realise” in British English.

Q: Is it OK to mix American and British spelling?

Yes, it is perfectly fine to mix American and British spelling in most situations. There are some instances where it may be confusing to do so (eg. spelling “color” as “colour” when writing for an American audience), but generally speaking, people will understand what you mean regardless of which spelling you use.

Q: Is elevator American or British?

The term “elevator” is actually an American term. In British English, the term for this type of machinery is “lift”. So if you’re ever in the U.K. and need to take an elevator, be sure to ask for a lift!

Q: What do the British call escalators?

The British call escalators “lift”, because that’s exactly what they are – a lift! An escalator is a motor-driven device that carries people up or down inclines, and it’s essentially a moving staircase.

Q: What is elevator in American?

An elevator (American English) or lift (British English) is a type of vertical transportation that moves people or goods between floors (levels, decks) of a building, vessel, or other structure. Elevators are generally powered by electric motors that either drive traction cables or counterweight systems like a hoist.

Q: Why do the British call a line a queue?

The British call a line a queue because people ranked in an orderly sequence and waiting for something is how the word was originally used. The French borrowed the word from English and changed it to queue, which is still the word used in France today.

Q: Is queue American or British?

No one in the US ever says queue – it’s always “line.” The word “queue” is actually British, and it refers to the line of people who are waiting to get something done.

Q: Why do Brits call it a lorry?

A lorry is a British English word for a motor truck. It derives from the French word ‘lorrie’, which was originally the name of a particular type of horse-drawn wagon. The word ‘lorry’ was first used in English in the early 19th century and it initially referred to any type of wagon or carriage, not just those drawn by horses.

Q: UK english vs US english which has more slang?

There’s no definitive answer to this question since it varies depending on region and time. However, some experts say that UK English has more slang than US English. This is because the UK has a larger number of dialects than the US, so there’s more opportunity for new slang words to develop.

Q: US english vs UK english which is correct?

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to US English vs UK English. Both are correct in those areas of the world where they are spoken. The main difference between the two is that US English is typically spoken with a more ” noticeable” accent, while UK English is considered to be more “posh” sounding.

Q: How many english speakers are there in US vs UK?

Based on recent estimates, there are approximately 330 million English speakers in the United States and 55 million in the United Kingdom. This means that there are nearly six times as many English speakers in the US as there are in the UK.

Q: What is the plural of fruit in UK english vs US english?

The plural of “fruit” in British English is “fruit”. In American English, the plural of “fruit” is typically “fruits”.

The Bottom Line

So there you have it – a few of the key differences between British and American English. Of course, this is just a snapshot, and there are countless other ways that these two dialects can differ. But armed with this knowledge, you should now be able to navigate your way through both versions of the language with relative ease.