British English American EnglishThere are myriad differences between English as it is used in the united kingdom and English as it is used in the united states
. These differences have developed over centuries from a common root. While some may believe that American English diverged from British English, which has remained unchanged, this is not the case. Both dialects have mutated over the years and that is what accounts for their differences more than anything else. What are those differences? There are three primary areas where the dialects diverge at times: pronunciation, spelling, and meaning.
Differences in pronunciation are indisputably the most notable of all the differences between British English and American English. We are made aware of this through the sharing of media from one culture to the other. Both cultures find the other's dialect to be entirely intelligible, but it certainly sounds quite different. It should be noted that pronunciation differences are not the same as differences of accent, which account to some degree for the different ways British English and American English sound. Pronunciation differences are more than that. For example, the letter 'h' which has become so often silent in American English pronunciation is not so in British English to the same extent. Find an American to talk to you about herbs, and a Brit to do the same and one will quickly hear the difference. This difference is not due to mere accent, it is a difference in rules for pronunciation.
Beyond differences in pronunciation, American English and British English also diverge in the spelling of common words. This is decidedly less pronounced than any differences detectable in spoken English. In fact, spelling differences between the two dialects are uncommon enough that it is, in many circumstances, impossible to tell whether a piece of writing was written by an American or a Brit. The history of some of the differences in spelling between the two dialects can be traced to the publishing of some of the first English language dictionaries in the late 1700's and early 1800's. Dictionaries published in england, like Samuel Johnson's, spelled things one way while dictionaries published in America, like Noah Webster's, spelled them another. Perhaps the most commonly noted difference in spelling involves the change from -our in British English to -or in American English. For example, a Brit would spell the word 'colour' as such, while an American would spell it as 'color,' dropping the 'u'.
In rarer instances, word definition can be entirely different from one dialect to the next. This is extremely uncommon for base words, but can be much more common when taking slang in to account. Perhaps an appropriate example of this phenomena is the word revise. To an American, this verb means something like, "to edit, to correct, to alter." In British English, however, this verb means something to the effect of "to study." I'm sure that there is an etymological similarity between the two, but as to the reason at which their usage began to diverge, I can not say.
Those are the tree major areas of difference between British
English and American English as far as the structure of the language is concerned. There are, of course, many other differences between the two dialects. Entirely different vocabularies have bloomed and continue to bloom distinctly within each. Slang and other casual forms of speech remain highly localized. Of this, there are countless examples - some old and some new. A Brit may be overheard saying, "My mates are always getting pissed at the flat." An American might be overheard saying, "The crew is always getting wasted at my place." Both sentences mean the same thing, more or less.. but an American might wonder why someone is angry and what relatively level location they were feeling this way at. The Brit might wonder why a professional crew of some sort is wasting time somewhere!
These two dialects are still more similar than they are different, and speakers of either can usually talk to each other with only minor difficulties, if that. This situation is not unique. A very similar exposition could be made regarding the relationship between Spanish in spain and Spanish as it is used in Central and South America. There are also smaller pockets of dialectical English in the word, such as that which is used in South Africa.