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The Differences Between American And British English

“There is no such thing as ‘American English’. There is English. And there are mistakes”.

This tweet came from a very popular twitter handle known for its funny and satirical tweets. This tweet may be satirical but one can raise questions about the origin of American English. The British began the colonization of North America around the 17th century. Once the colonization began, English started spreading out all over the continent. Before that, the Native Americans spoke various local languages. Overtime the English spoken in North America lost its British touch and it started being known as American English. To this day, there is no official language of USA however American English is considered as an authentic language and there are many American politicians who are working on instating English as the official language of USA.


Dialects and Accents

English language has three major dialects. These include the dialects spoken in North America, Britain and Australasia. When it comes to accents, there are several different accents spoken in both countries. For example the accent of English spoken in the State of Alabama is different than the accent of English spoken in New York. The same goes for the English accents London and Manchester.


Vocabulary

There are many words in both languages that are different from each other. One example can be the word “quite” When Americans say something is quite good, they mean it in a positive sense. However in British English quite good means mediocre. There are thousands of everyday words that are spoken differently as well. For example on American TV, you would find Talk Shows but on British Television, you would find chat shows.

Americans use the word apartments while British use flat. The differences are endless but luckily people can still understand each other.


Spelling

Have you ever been confused by the endless discussion of color and colour or center and centre. Well, there is nothing to be confused about. These are just two different spellings of the same word. In British English the words like colour and honour are written with “our” while in American English they skip the “u”.


British English Is A Bit More Formal

With such a rich history and dominant royal culture, the British speak in a more formal way. For example most British would say, “Shall we do this” while Americans would say “Should we do this”. The use of ‘Shall’ makes the language sound more formal.


Use Of Prepositions

Prepositions are used differently in both English types. Where British use ‘IN’ the Americans use ‘On’. For example a British person would say I made it in the team where as an American would say I made it on the team.


Quotation Marks

In British English, single quotation marks are used to represent direct quotes while in American English double quotation marks are used to denote direct quotes.


Abbreviations

If you are writing a letter or memo to someone in British English then you don’t have to put a period after Mr or Mrs however in American English you have to add a period after these abbreviations. i.e. Mr. and Mrs. The same goes for other abbreviations for doctor, street and other abbreviated words i.e.

Dr and St in British English and Dr. and St. in American English.


Overall, there are more similarities between the two languages than there are differences. This is because of the fact that British English is like an ancestral language to American English. Other than the high amount of similarities, there are also some significant differences between the two. However these differences aren’t enough to create a language barrier between speakers of both languages as they can clearly understand each other.




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