English is the mother tongue of both American and British. But, they speak two different types of English where much dissimilarity is noticeable. Language learners often fall into trouble with the puzzle of British and American English. Both types of English are in use around the world. So, choosing one of them is tough for language learners. The spelling and pronunciation of common words are different in American and British English. People from two countries also use unique vocabulary in some cases. Some grammatical distinctions between them are remarkable as well. If you don’t know these variances, you can mix both English incorrectly. As a result, your English may sound weird to natives. In this post, we will share some common differences between British and American English.
The old English, also called Anglo-Saxons, was first spoken in England in the 5th century. British English originated in 449 AD from the Anglo-Frisian dialect. According to this history, British English is the original English and is massively influenced by its ancient root. On the other hand, British settlers introduced English to America in the 17th century. During the British colonization of America, English became a widespread language gradually. But, Americans spoke the language in their accent. After speaking English like this for generations, “American” became a unique accent of English. American English is also influenced by many cultural differentiations. So, it sounds dissimilar to British English.
The dissimilarity between British and American English spelling often puzzles language learners. A word with two different spelling looks very confusing. They look nearly the same but have a subtle distinction.
The spelling of British English is authentic, similar to its sources like German and French. But, American English spelling follows how a word sounds when spoken.
Here is a comparison table of British and American English spelling:
|British English spelling||American English spelling|
Learners have nothing to worry about since an English tutor will clarify how to spell British and American words.
Vocabulary is perhaps the biggest difference between British and American English. Sometimes, the same word has two opposite meanings in these two dialects. For example, trousers are called pants in American English. But, pants mean underpants in British English. Though there are many lexical differences between the two dialects, British and American English speakers can talk to and understand each other really well.
Here is a comparison table of British and American English vocabulary:
|British English vocabulary||American English vocabulary|
|car park||Parking lot|
Learners should be careful to avoid mixing British and American vocabulary in their writing and speaking.
British and American English has grammatical divergences in a few cases. For example, Americans will feel comfortable at say a sentence in past indefinite tense instead of saying it in present perfect like the British.
Here is a comparison table of British and American English grammar:
|British English||American English|
|I have just finished it.||I just finished it.|
|He has got very thin.||He has gotten very thin.|
|Let’s have a break.||Let’s take a break.|
|Shall we try that again?||How about we try that again?|
|I haven’t read the book yet.||I didn’t read the book yet.|
Though the structure looks different, they have nearly the same meaning in the end.
British and American English has thousands of common words. But, people from both countries pronounce them differently. For example, British people don’t pronounce ‘r’ if it comes after a vowel. On the other hand, American people pronounce it as usual.
Here is a comparison table of British and American English pronunciations for the same word:
|Words||American English pronunciation||British English pronunciation|
So, we knew the common differences between British and American English. Interestingly, both American and British English speakers can talk to and understand each other despite having many lingual differences. But, both dialects also have many similarities that create no complications for English learners. Finally, the question is – which English should you learn? The question has no straight answer since there is no term like “the best English”. It depends on your goal of learning English as a second language. If you need to go to the UK for a job, learning British English will be absolutely rewarding. On the other hand, learning the American accent will be beneficial for going to the USA to study. However, learning and understanding both dialects will be inestimable.