Because many of you were taught English with books from Cambridge University, you might have picked up some British English habits that confuse you when studying under your American teacher. In this post, I want to highlight some of the interesting differences between American and British English.
Of course, we’re already aware of some cultural differences between America and Britain. They love tea, but we love coffee. They drive on the left side, while we drive on the right. They gave the world The Beatles Shakespeare, and Harry Potter (among many other people and things). We gave the world Frank Sinatra, Mark Twain, Edgar Allan Poe, and all of excitement and explosions that Michael Bay has to offer (and so much more).
When it comes to the English language, here are a few items you should know:
Spelling

The most obvious differences are:

  • The addition of the “u” (Americans: color, honor, and labor; Brits: colour, honour, and labour);
  • the “er” or “re” endings (Americans: center, fiber, and kilometer; Brits: centre, fibre, and kilometre);
  • and the ize or ise endings (Americans: appetizer, capitalize, and criticize; Brits: appetiser, capitalise, and criticise).
  • Another difference is the changing of “og” endings to “ogue” (Americans: analog, dialog, and catalog; Brits: analogue, dialogue, and catalogue).
Vocabulary

When you travel, Americans go on vacation, while Brits go on holiday(s).
When Americans are in the mood for some eggplant, the Brits buy some aubergines.

In a car accident? Americans will check the hood at the front of the car, while Brits check the bonnet.

Hit from behind? In the US, check the trunk. In the UK, you should check the boot.

Do you have a talent for numbers? In America, being great at math can lead to a number of wonderful careers. The same goes for Brits who are skilled in maths.

Hungry, but on the run? Get some takeout at your favorite American restaurant! If you’re on the other side of the Atlantic, you’d get some takeaway.

Grammar

In past forms, Americans tend to use the -ed ending (dreamed, burned, learned) when Brits use the -t ending (dreamt, burnt, learnt).

Similarly, Americans will use the -en ending of past participles (gotten) whereas Brits will simply say “got.”

If you’re speaking about necessity, Americans commonly use have to where Brits insert a third word: have got to.

Can you think of any other important differences? Please comment below:

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