The English language was first introduced on American soil in the late 17th century, when Britain started colonizing America. Over the centuries, the English language evolved differently in the US from the UK, and today, there are many differences in British and American English.
One of the most common spelling difference is in the spelling of words that end in an unstressed –our in British English. In American English these words end with –or. For example, in British English, words like colour, flavour, harbour would be spelled color, flavor, and harbor in American English. Additionally, In British English, words that have French, Latin or Greek origin and end with a consonant followed byunstressed –re, in American English, these words would have the ending-er.For example, in British English words like calibre, centre, fibre, and theatre have become caliber, center, fiber, theater in American English.
In British and American English, there are different words with the same meaning, or, the same word has different meanings. If you look for a subway in London, you would end up in some tunnels underground, because in British English the word subway means a pedestrian underground passage, while the word Tube is used for the Underground Railroad system. Also, some words like AC, airplane, bro, catsup, cell phone etc. are common in American English; however, they are not used very often in British English. The same applies for British English; there are words that are largely used in British English, but they are not used in American English, like advert, anti-clockwise, barrister, cat’s eye.
3. Use of the Present Perfect
In British English, if you want to express an action that has happened in the recent past and that has an effect on the present moment, you use the present perfect. However, in American English, it’s more common to use the past tense to express the same action.
For example, in British English:
I’ve eaten too much. I feel ill.
In American English, the past tense is used instead:
I ate too much. I feel ill.
In British English the example above would be considered incorrect.
Another difference is in the use of these tenses along with the words already, just and yet. For example, if in British English we say “I’ve already finished my homework,” in American English it could also be said as “I already finished my homework.”
4. Past tense forms
In American and British English some base verbs have different past simple and past participle forms. As an example, let’s take the verb “learn.” In American English, its past simple and past participle form would be learned. In British English, however, it would be learnt. The same goes for verbs like dream, lean, smell. In American English, their past tense forms would be dreamed, leaned, smelled, while in British they would be dreamt, leant, smelt. Both are correct; but the latter are used more often in British English. Another example is forecast, which in British English would be forecasted in the past simple tense.
5. Use of auxiliaries and modals
The auxiliary verb do is often used in British English when replying to a question. For example:
Are you coming to the party?
I might do.
In American English, however, do is not used that way. The answer to the question above would be “I might.” Also, the verb needn’t can be used instead of don’t need to in British English, while the same is not used in American English. The most common difference lies in the use of shall/should. In British English, shall is often used to talk about the future, or to ask for advice. However, in American English, shall is almost never used, and should is used instead.
Georgina Roy wants to live in a world filled with magic. As a 22-year-old art student, she’s moonlighting as a writer and is content to fill notebooks and sketchbooks with magical creatures and amazing new worlds. When she is not at school, or scribbling away in a notebook, you can usually find her curled up, reading a good urban fantasy novel, or writing on her laptop, trying to create her own.