English/Differences between British English and American English

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General: Introduction - Grammar
Parts of speech: Nouns - Verbs - Adjectives - Adverbs - Pronouns - Conjunctions - Prepositions - Interjections
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Other English topics: Gerunds - Idiomatic Phrases - Spelling - Vocabulary - Punctuation - Syntax - Appositives - Phonics - Pronunciation

There are many differences between British English and American English. But these are all only small differences. There are also many other types of English like Canadian English, Irish English and South African English.

The dictionary from the United States, Noah Webster's A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language, published in 1806, included many of the differences.


One difference between British English (GB) and American English (US) is the spelling of some words. For example:

US and GB
color vs. colour
center vs. centre
meter vs. metre
savior vs. saviour
canceled vs. cancelled
traveled vs. travelled
vandalize vs. vandalise

Basically, re endings in British English are usually spelt er in American English. Past tenses which have ll in British English usually have only 'l' in American English.


Another difference is in pronunciation (how to speak a word).

In the United States, for example, they pronounce the word "schedule" like "SKED-ju-ul," while in Great Britain, they pronounce the same word like "SHED-ju-ul".

Another difference is the pronunciation of words ending with "ile" like "mobile" and "missile". Americans usually pronounce these words as "mo-bil" and "mis-il" but British people usually say "mo-BILE" and "mis-ILE" where "ILE" is pronounced the same as "isle".


Another difference is vocabulary.

Some common things have different names in Great Britain and the United States. An example of this is the front part and the back part of a car. The front part of a car that you lift to see the engine is called the bonnet in Great Britain, and the hood in the United States. The back part of the car that you lift to store luggage is called the boot in Great Britain and the trunk in the United States. The place where you get water in a kitchen is called a tap in Britain but called a faucet (or the tap) in American English.

Some differences could be a problem. In the United States pants are the clothes you wear on your legs. In Great Britain pants are clothes that you wear under your clothes.

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