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5 Differences Between American and British English

American and British Flag combined

If you’re about to purchase a pressure washer, I’m certain you’ll come across two types––gas and electric. Just like pressure washers, English can either be American or British. But how can you tell which is which?

Auxiliary or Helping Verbs

These verbs support and help the main verb by adding more information regarding voice, time, and modality.

Brits would probably use “shall” more often than “will.” For Americans, “shall” is too formal. For instance, in a conversation, a Brit would say, “I shall eat in a while.” But an American would rather say, “I will eat in a while.”

If we try to convert that in question form, it would be this way:

British: “Shall I eat?”

American: “Should I eat?”

Furthermore, when Brits want to express a lack of duty, they don’t use do + not + need, unlike Americans.

Example:

Brits: “You need not worry about it.”

Americans: “You do not need to worry about it.”

Collective Nouns

These nouns refer to a group of people. Americans consider collective nouns as singular, while Brits consider collective nouns as singular or plural.

Example:

Americans: “Their team was awesome today!”

Brits: “Their team were awesome today!” or “Their team was awesome today!”

Past Tense Verbs

Americans usually add “-ed” to the end of irregular verbs if it’s past tense, while Brits add “-t” instead.

Example:

Americans: “I learned a lot.”
Brits: “I learnt a lot.”

The same goes with burned and burnt, dreamed and dreamt, etc.

American and British Flag combined

When it comes to past participle, Americans use the verbs ending in “–en” if it’s an irregular verb.

Example:

Americans: “I have never gotten caught.”

Brits: “I have never got caught.”

These, however, are small differences only.

Spelling

And of course, this is the most obvious difference. Brits add “u” to words like honor, color, labor, and savior. Therefore, when they write it down, the words become honour, colour, labour, and saviour. The pronunciation is the same, though.

Vocabulary

EN logoLastly, there are terms in American English that are said differently in British English. For instance, Brits would call the front part of the car “the bonnet,” while Americans would refer to it as “the hood.”

Americans also go on vacation, while Brits go on hols or holidays.

Brits live in flats, while Americans live in apartments.

These few dissimilarities, however, aren’t much different when used in a sentence.