Difference between American and British English

If we all were robots, wouldn’t we sound like Siri? But sadly, that’s not the case as we are human beings. Well, every country has its own dialect which varies from places to places within it and becomes even more complicated in interiors. Therefore, owing to such variations, native speakers unlike others have a unique way of talking.

English language has got thousands of English ascents, slang words and pronunciation habits which make the job even tougher for aspiring English learners.

Having said that, learning different types of English can be a fun-game, if you are willing to walk the extra mile. Not only will it be intriguing but an exploration of varied cultures across the globe.

In this blog, we will try to unravel and demystify the subtlest nuances of American and British English. Since both are widely spoken around the world especially American English therefore everyone should try to get themselves acquainted with them. We will proceed with two extremely common ones which you might be already familiar with. Afterwards, we will dig deeper into other variants which may perhaps sound unheard-of to you.

 American English vs. British English

The two big and commonly spoken variants are American and British English. American English has got majorly two forms, North American and South American English. North American English is spoken in U.S and Canada whereas standard British English is spoken in U.K. Therefore, these two most common English is used in ESL classroom.

As mentioned earlier, its variants are culture and geography driven therefore these two forms of English have their own categorization ( for example English spoken in southern states of U.S) But, there are subtle yet profound distinctions for each that English learners should be mindful of.

Pronunciation and spelling are two differentiating and noticeable factors between American English and British English.

Spelling differences:

When it comes to spelling, U.S spells the words differently. Although Canada uses North American English, it generally follows British spelling.

  • Most words that end in -or in American English have an -our ending in British English.

Color (American) — Colour (British)

Honor (American) — Honour(British)

  • Most words that end in -ize in American English have an -ise ending in British English

Organize (American) — Organise(British)

Recognize (American) — Recognise(British)

  • There are also some words that sound the same in American and British English, but have different spellings.

In the U.S., your money goes into a checking account. In the U.K., it goes into a chequing account.

The streets in the U.S. have a curb, but in the UK, they have a kerb.

A car in the U.S. has four tires, but in the U.K. it has four tyres.

Pronunciation differences:

When people talk about British English, they’re really talking about Received

Pronunciation (RP)

Received Pronunciation is the most common English accent that you’ll come across while learning British English. It’s the type of English that’s spoken on BBC news. Understanding RP can help you distinguish between British and American accents clearly.

Here are some of the major differences between RP and North American pronunciation:

  • In RP, the letter “R” is pronounced very gently at the end of a word.

For example, in a British accent, one hardly pronounces the letter “R” in the word. In this context letter ‘R’is considered as silent.

  • In RP, the letter “t” is clearly pronounced when it comes in the middle of certain words whereas in American English, letter ‘t’ is pronounced more like a “d.”

For example, a British would pronounce the word water, whereas an American would say it as “wah-der.”

  • RP also lays stress at different places than American pronunciation. For better understanding see the bold letters where syllables are being stressed.

garage (American) — garage (British)

address (American) — address (British)

Hope that you find this article enlightening and now you will be able to distinguish the difference between American and British English.

Thank you so much. Best Wishes.