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The Striking Differences Between BrE and AmE

The Striking Differences Between BrE and AmE | ITTT | TEFL Blog

When we talk about the English language, we are referring to its base form or proper English as the Brits would say. American English is a version of British English, which has been modified over time and has thus been altered to suit the different geographical locations, different culture and so on.

Table of Contents

Lexical Differences

Grammar Structure


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There are several areas of the English language which present the most noticeable differences and these are in vocabulary, grammar, and spelling.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Kristian B. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

Lexical Differences

There are hundreds of everyday words that are different. For example, Brits call the front of a car the bonnet, while Americans call it the hood. Americans go on vacation, while Brits go on holidays or hols. New Yorkers live in apartments; Londoners live in flats. These examples show that the vocabulary is completely different for words that have the same meaning. There are many others.

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Grammar Structure

When it comes to Grammar, there are a few grammatical differences between the two varieties of English. For example Collective Nouns. Collective nouns are used to refer to a group of individuals. In American English, collective nouns are singular. For example, staff refers to a group of employees; the band refers to a group of musicians; the team refers to a group of athletes. Americans would say, "The band is good."But in British English, collective nouns can be singular or plural. You might hear someone from Britain say, "The team is playing tonight" or "The team is playing tonight."

Another grammar difference between American and British English relates to auxiliary verbs. Auxiliary Verbs, also known as helping verbs, are verbs that help form a grammatical function. The "help" the main verb by adding information about time, modality and voice.

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For example, the auxiliary verb ''shall'. Brits sometimes use'' shall'' to express the future. "I shall go home now." Americans know what'' shall'' means, but rarely use it in conversation. It seems very formal. Americans would probably use "I will go home now."In question form, a Brit might say, "Shall we go now?" while an American would probably say, "Should we go now?"

When Americans want to express a lack of obligation, they use the helping verb'' do'' with negative'' not'' followed by need. "You do not need to come to work today." Brits drop the helping verb and contract not. "You needn't come to work today."

There are some small differences in past forms of irregular verbs. The past tense of'' learn'' in American English is'' learned''. British English has the option of''learned''or''learnt''. Americans tend to use the''–ed'' ending; Brits tend to use the''-t'' ending. For example, an American might say, "I have never gotten caught" whereas a Brit would say, "I have never got caught." Americans use both ''got' 'and 'gotten' in the past participle. Brits only use''got''.

Another set of differences is in tag questions. Tag question is a grammatical form that turns a statement into a question. For example, "The whole situation is unfortunate, isn't it?" or, "You don't like him, do you?"

The tag includes a pronoun and its matching form of the verb 'be', 'have' or 'do'. Tag questions encourage people to respond and agree with the speaker. Americans use tag questions, too, but less often than Brits.

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The nest differences are hundreds of minor spelling differences between British and American English.

In conclusion, British and American English have many differences in the way English is spoken and written. Differences in Grammar are notable, but ultimately, regional dialects and pronunciation is the quickest and easiest way to tell the difference between a native British English speaker and a native American English speaker.

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