Difference Between British English and American English

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: September 24, 2022


Difference Between British English and American English Difference Between British English and American English

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American English and British English are the two types of English that are taught in the majority of ESL and EFL programs, although there are undoubtedly a great number of other variations of English. It is generally accepted that no one version can be deemed "right," yet there are undeniably variations in user preferences.

To state that English is the international language is to suggest that it is the language that is spoken in almost every country in the world, and as a result, it serves as the language that is spoken in all the countries. The language functions as the conduit to overcome linguistic barriers not only between individuals but also between countries.

On the other hand, the language has developed into a variety of diverse forms, which vary according to the cultures of the countries. Because of this, there is no longer a continuous fluency in the English language; rather, it has been altered into several various varieties. The American English, the British English, the Australian English, the Indian English, the Canadian English, and other varieties of English are among the most widely used forms of the language.

British English vs American English

The main difference between British English and American English is that the former is the original and genuine form of the language that was disseminated across the rest of the globe by British colonists. On the other hand, American English is not a genuine language; rather, the American language may be thought of as a more developed and enhanced form of British English. Authenticity refers to the use of language that has been passed down from generation to generation.

During the early 16th and early 17th centuries, British people were responsible for the development of the British English language. When the British began their process of colonization in various parts of the globe, they also began a program to teach their language to the locals of those regions to make communication more straightforward.

They established educational institutions in which individuals were instructed in British English. When a teacher at a British school asks his students to "pull out their rubbers," he is not going to teach them how to use birth control, as the majority of people are aware. Instead, he is urging his students to produce their erasers. People in the United Kingdom who are residents in flats do not make their homes with punctured tires. In British English, the term "bum" may refer to either a vagrant or a pair of buttocks.

The individuals who moved to North America are responsible for the development of American English. These were individuals who were fluent in British English; nevertheless, as a result of their migration and subsequent colonization efforts, their language became somewhat differentiated from standard British English use. The English that was created in the United States throughout the early 17th and early 18th centuries is today referred to as American English. There is not a shred of doubt in anyone's mind that the most powerful and influential variant of English in the world today is American English.

This occurs for several different causes. To begin, the United States of America is now the most powerful country on the planet, and it is common knowledge that power always comes hand in hand with influence. Second, the political influence of the United States is spread around the world through means of American popular culture, in particular by the widespread dissemination of American music and movies (movies, of course). Third, the extraordinary rapidity with which advances in communication technology have occurred is directly correlated with the extraordinary prevalence of American English in international contexts.

Difference Between British English and American English in Tabular Form

Table: British English vs American English
Parameters of comparison
British English
American English
Form of English
The manner of speech that is utilised in British English is considered to be more official.
The speech that is utilised in the United States is of a more casual kind.
Use of will/shall
When referring to events that will take place in the future, speakers more often use the word "shall" in British English.
In speeches that are delivered in the future tense, the word "will" is most often used in American English.
Past participle form of ‘get’
The word 'get' is transformed into its past participle form, which is referred to as 'gotten' in British English.
 In American English, the past participle form of the word 'get' is referred to as 'got,' and it is often used.
Negative form for not needing to do
The phrase "needn't" is the negative version of the phrase "not needing to do," which is used in British English.
 The phrase "don't need to" is the negative version of the phrase "not needing to do" when used in American English.

What is British English?

British English (BrE) is a word used to differentiate the British Isles' version of the English language from other versions. It encompasses all dialects of English spoken in the British Isles, including those spoken in England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. Though the term is widely used, some critics believe it is inappropriate because Scottish English is logically included in British English, implying the existence of a separate category of English spoken in England, whereas "English English" is cumbersome and implies that English refers to the language spoken in England. The phrase "British English" is often used outside of the British Isles, as well as among linguists and lexicographers; British people typically refer to it as "Standard English" or just "English."

The English language in the United Kingdom and Ireland is governed by convention rather than formal code, as it is throughout the world: there is no equivalent body to the Académie française, and authoritative dictionaries (e.g. Oxford English Dictionary, Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, Chambers Dictionary, Collins Dictionary) record rather than prescribe usage. As a consequence, syntax, use, spelling, and vocabulary differ significantly. Furthermore, vocabulary and use evolve throughout time; terms are widely adopted from other languages and English dialects, and neologisms abound.

British English, often known as anglo English or UK English, is the most widely spoken language in the United Kingdom. Furthermore, since British English is the original form of English, it is the form of English that is taught today.

Tenses in British English have a very distinct connotation, thus learning British English requires a greater grasp of tenses. The present perfect tense form of a verb, for example, is used to describe an action that occurred recently in the past and now impacts an action occurring in the present tense.

Furthermore, the repeating of two consecutive letters to highlight the letter is usually expressed by 'double letter' in the spellings of nouns in British English. Take, for instance, a program. As a result, the insufficient repetition of two consecutive letters has been avoided in advanced versions of English, such as American English. When writing in American English, the same term might be written as 'program.'

What is American English?

The Indo-European language family includes the variety of English spoken in the United States. The majority of people in the United States use this variety of the English language. The spoken language may be further subdivided into a variety of distinct forms. Even though both forms have the same writing style and syntax, the manner that which these accents are spoken is different.

The general American accent, the inland northern accent, the new york city accent, the north-central accent, the mid-Atlantic accent, the northern new England accent, the southern accent, the western accent, the western Pennsylvania accent, and several other accents are among the most common varieties of American English.

The standard American accent may be heard in almost every area of the United States; however, the other accents are only prevalent in particular parts of the country. For instance, the inland northern accent is most commonly spoken in Chicago, the New York City accent is most commonly spoken in, as the name suggests, New York City, the north-central accent is commonly spoken in Minneapolis, and there are a lot of other cities where people speak with these types of accents.

The variety of English spoken in the United States of America is known as American English. American English is a subset of the English language. It is one of the two varieties of English that are spoken the most often all across the globe (the other one is British English).

The pronunciation is where you'll notice the most significant differences between British and American English. There isn't much of a difference in terms of vocabulary and grammar. People who speak British English and American English can communicate well with one another.

There are several different varieties of English that makeup American English. People in New England, New York City, and the southern region of the United States all speak English in their unique ways, for instance.

The General American standard of English is often what comes to people's minds when they hear the phrase "teaching American English" or "learning American English." General American English is the variety of the English language that is used by educated Americans, on television, and in the press, and that is described in dictionaries of American English, such as Merriam-Webster and Random House dictionaries. It is also known as Standard American English.

Instead of the phrase "American English," an English dictionary would often use the abbreviations AmE, Am, or the US whenever it provides an American term or an American pronunciation of a word.

Main Differences Between British English and American English in Points

  • The majority of people in the UK speak British English as their primary language. In contrast, the predominant use of American English may be seen in the United States.
  • In the spelling of words written in British English, the letter combination -one- is substituted for the sound represented by -ae-. For example, anemia, encyclopedia. In contrast, the letter e is substituted for the sound ae wherever it appears in the written form of a word in American English. Consider the conditions of anemia and encyclopedias.
  • When written in the past tense, words in British English conclude with the letter t after the phrase. For example, learned, burned, etc. On the contrary, when words are written in their past forms in American English, they terminate with the lettered at the end of the word. such as learned, burnt, and other examples.
  • In British English, the letter l is pronounced as a single unit afterwords that includes the letter l sound. For example, fulfill, enlist, etc. On the other hand, in American English, the letter l is written twice when the word contains an l-sound at the end of it. For example, fulfill, enroll, etc.
  • The ending -re is used for words in British English that include the sound -ar- at the end of the word. For example, meters, centers, etc. On the other hand, words that contain the -ar sound in them have the ending -er in American English. For example, meters, centers, etc.
  • The vocabulary is what stands out most to people as being different from British and American English. There are several terms that people use every day that are distinct from one another. For instance, people in the United Kingdom call the front of a vehicle the bonnet, whereas those in the United States call it the hood.
  • In American English, the word for "learned" denotes the past tense of "learn." Both "learned" and "learned" are acceptable forms of expression in British English. The distinction between dreamed and dreamt, burned and burnt, and leaned and leaned each adheres to the same norm.
  • There are hundreds of different grammatical and orthographic peculiarities that distinguish British English from American English. You may give the credit for this to the American lexicographer Noah Webster.


The two varieties of language are distinct from one another in several important ways, most notably in their grammatical structures and their tones of voice. Nevertheless, their vocabularies are very distinct from one another. For instance, in British English, you would say "trousers," whereas in American English, "pants" would be used. In British English, "football" would be used, whereas in American English, "soccer" would be used. In British English, "cookie" would be used, whereas in American English, "biscuit" would be used.



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"Difference Between British English and American English." Diffzy.com, 2023. Mon. 20 Mar. 2023. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-british-english-and-american-english-517>.

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