British English vs American English

“The United States and the United Kingdom are two countries divided by a common language" - George Bernard Shaw

British EnglishAlthough English is spoken practically everywhere in the world and even have a variety of forms, the two most dominant types are British and American English. British English, also known as Commonwealth English is the form of the language spoken in the United Kingdom, Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand and South Africa, as well as being used in organizations such as the U.N., the WTO and the E.U.. American English is spoken in the United States and used in Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Taiwan to name a few.

American EnglishAlthough British and American English are in general, mutually understood, there are adequate distinctions to potentially cause misunderstandings in communication.

Here are some of the differences:

American words ending in -or may end in – our in British English as seen in colour, flavour and honour become color, flavor and honor.

British English uses colonise, harmonise and realise as opposed to the American’s colonize, harmonize, and realize.

British English typically doubles the”l” when adding suffixes that begin with a vowel if “l” is preceded by a single vowel, as in modelling, quarrelled, signaling; whereas American English doubles it only on stressed syllables, as with modeling, quarreled, signaling.

British English uses “t” with past tense verbs as seen in learnt, dreamt and leapt, while American English would read learned, dreamed and leaped.

In numbers, Americans are prone to read “1,520” as “fifteen twenty”, and “938” (for a house number or bus for instance), as “nine thirty-eight” while British would say “nine three eight”.

British also use “Nil” and “Naught” when referring to “0”, while the Americans would call it “zero”, “zilch" or "zip".; and when reading numbers with more than one number in succession, British use the terms “double or treble” as in 007 (“double-oh-seven”) and 888 (treble eight).

Some words used only in British or Commonwealth English:

candy floss (cotton candy), naff (tacky), biscuit (cookie), chap (guy), pong (stink/odor), lorry (truck), busk (perform in the streets), willy (penis), pushchair (stroller), lift (elevator).

Some words only used in American English:

Sidewalk (pavement), gas (petrol), cookie (biscuit), elevator(lift), stroller (pushchair/buggy), candy (sweets).


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