British English vs American English: Difference and Comparison

English is the international language, that is to say, English is the language that is accepted by almost all countries, and thus it acts as the common language among all nations.

The language acts as the pathway to avoid language barriers among different people, and among different nations as well.

However, the language has been adapted into different forms, depending upon the cultures of nations. As a result, there is no continuous fluency when it comes to the language English, instead, it has been adapted into several different variations.

Some of the most popular variations of English are American English, British English, Australian English, Indian English, Canadian English, and more.

Key Takeaways

  1. British English uses different spelling conventions, such as “colour” and “centre,” while American English spells these words as “color” and “center.”
  2. Vocabulary differences exist between the two dialects, with some words being unique to each, such as “lorry” in British English and “truck” in American English.
  3. British and American English have variations in pronunciation, like the “r” sound in British English being softer than in American English.

British English vs American English

The difference between British English and American English is that British English is the actual and authentic language that was introduced by the Britishers to the world. On the other hand, American English is not the authentic language, instead, the American language can be said to be an advanced and improved version of British English.

British English vs American English
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The British English was devised by Britishers in the early 16th and 17th centuries.

When the British started colonization in different parts of the world, they started to teach their language to the world so that communication can get easier.

They introduced schools where British English was taught to people.

The American English was devised by the people who migrated to North America.

These were people who knew British English, however, when they migrated and started to colonize, their language got a bit diverted from traditional British English.

The devised English was recognized in the early 17th and 18th centuries, which is known as American English.

Comparison Table

Parameters of comparisonBritish EnglishAmerican English
Form of EnglishTraditionalImprovised
Speech In British English, the speech used is more formal.In American English, the speech used is more informal.
Use of will/shallIn British English, the word ‘shall’ is used more commonly for speeches in the future tense.  In American English, the word ‘will’ is used more commonly for speeches in the future tense.
Past participle form of ‘get’In British English, ‘gotten’ is used as the past participle form of the word ‘get’.American English, ‘got’ is used as the past participle form of the word ‘get’.
Negative form for not needing to do In British English, ‘needn’t’ is used as the negative form for not needing to do.In American English, ‘don’t need to’ is used as the negative form for not needing to do.

What is British English?

British English is also known as anglo English and UK English which is most commonly spoken in Great Britain.

Moreover, since British English is the authentic form of English, it is the form of English language which is taught in today’s time.

In British English, the tenses have a quite different meaning, and thus one needs to have a better understanding of tenses to learn British English.

For example, the present perfect tense form of a verb is used to denote some action that has happened recently in the past, and it now affects the action that is happening in the present tense.

Moreover, the spellings of words in British English commonly follow the repetition of two consecutive letters to emphasize the letter, which is commonly denoted by ‘double letter’. For example, a program.

Thus, in the advanced forms of English, such as American English, the inadequate repetition of two consecutive letters has been avoided. So the same word can be written as ‘program’ when following American English.

What is American English?

American English comes under the language family of Indo-European. This version of the English language is majorly followed in the US.

The language is further divided into several different forms. Though these forms have the same writing style and grammar, these accents differ in the way of pronunciation.

Some of the most popular accents in American English are general American accent, inland northern accent, new york city accent, north-central accent, mid-Atlantic accent, northern new England accent, southern accent, western accent, western Pennsylvania accent, and more.

The general American accent is commonly spoken all around the US, however, the rest of the accents are found in certain regions only.

For example, the inland northern accent is most commonly spoken in Chicago, the new york city accent is most commonly spoken in, as suggested by the name, New York City, the north-central accent is commonly spoken in Minneapolis, and more.

Main Differences Between British English and American English

  1. British English is majorly followed in the UK. Whereas, American English is majorly followed in the US.
  2. In British English, the combination of -oe- is used in spelling for the sound of -ae-. For example, anaemia, encyclopaedia. On the other hand, in American English, the letter -e- is used in spelling for the sound of -ae-. For example, anemia, encyclopedias.
  3. In British English, the word ends with -t- when they are written in the past form. For example, learnt, burnt, etc. On the contrary, in American English, the word ends with -ed- when they are written in the past form. For example, learned, burned, etc.
  4. In British English, the word having -l- sound at the end has a single -l-. For example, fulfil, enrol, etc. On the contrary, in American English, the word having -l- sound at the end has a double l. For example, fulfill, enroll, etc. 
  5. In British English, the word having -ar- sound at the end has -re- ending. For example, metre, centre, etc. On the contrary, in American English, the word having -ar- sound have -er- ending. For example, meter, center, etc. 
Difference Between British English and American English
References
  1. https://socialistregister.com/index.php/srv/article/view/5963
  2. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=sIGsBwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA334&dq=english&ots=_DLe-3xooB&sig=mh8K5QwAHsXIGqqkMqSq3lIyAsE

Last Updated : 19 July, 2023

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