Are we really speaking the same language?
Two nations divided by a common language, a quote widely attributed to George Bernard Shaw, comes to mind when contemplating the differences between American and British English.
Outlined in this article you will find the 8 most significant differences between American and British English.
There are many regional accents throughout the USA and the UK, but generally speaking the biggest difference lies in the pronunciation of the letter “r”. Americans usually pronounce every “r” in a word, while the British tend to only pronounce the “r” when it’s the first letter of a word.
This was never as clear to as on my first day of teaching back in 2006 when I said the word ‘car’ and not one of my Spanish peaking students understood it until I wrote it on the board. They had all simply heard ‘kaa’ which is much more similar to the noise a bird makes, and not a vehicle that you use for personal travel.
The most common differences in spelling are shown below.
There are of course some words that are just different in American English and British English, as follows.
soft drink / fizzy drink
The differences below are as a general rule and you can find that people from both sides of the pond use them interchangeably.
I’m going to a party on the weekend.
What are you doing on Christmas?
Monday through Friday.
It’s different from/than the others.
I’m going to a party at the weekend.
What are you doing at Christmas?
Monday to Friday.
It’s different from/to the others.
5. Past Simple vs Present Perfect
Americans tend to use the past simple when describing something that happened recently, while people in the UK are more likely to use the present perfect.
6. The past participle of get
In the UK, “gotten” as the past participle of “get” isn't used as much as “got.” However, in the US people do use “gotten” as the past participle.
7. Collective nouns: singular or plural?
In British English, a collective noun (like committee, government, team, family, etc.) can be either singular or plural. Collective nouns in the US are always singular.
#8. Regular or irregular verbs?
This is a subtle difference that can be easily overlooked in speech, but is much more apparent in written form. Many verbs that are irregular in the past tense in Britain (leapt, dreamt, burnt, learnt) have been made regular in America (leaped, dreamed, burned, learned).
So which form should you be using? Well that’s a matter of personal choice and current location I suppose However, as rule it’s better to have a wide knowledge of all types of English, but to stick to one vocabulary set or spelling system and be consistent with it.