Assignment 2

THE DIFFERENCES OF BRITISH AND AMERICAN ENGLISH

by Siti Nur Azizah Dwi Haryanti

College of Language and Communication Science of Sultan Agung Islamic University

That English is difficult to learn. It is what some people might think when they are asked about English. But, English comes as both universal and international language which becomes a need for people to learn. Many countries in this earth use English as either the first or the second language. In addition, every country has its own style to deliver English in a daily conversation. Yet, the best known English styles are American English and British English. In fact, non-English-speaking people tend to learn those kinds of English style. Firstly, American English is known as the one which considers many slang words and expressions. Then, British English is the one which is known for its special intonations. Whether British or American English has some differences including grammar, spelling, and vocabulary which are going to be explained in this paper and are supposed to be understood by EFL (English as a Foreign Language) learners.

People might not consider much about using grammar in spoken English. Besides, when going to either UK or USA, people should adopt both grammatical style in the right place. The most significant different grammar use of both British and American English is the tenses used. In British English (BE), the present perfect is used to express something or an action that has happened in the past and the consequence or the effect still exist in the present. For example; I’ve lost my pen. Can you help me find it?. Otherwise, in American English (AE), the simple past tense is considered as the correct use. For example; I lost my pen. Can you help me find it?. Other differences related to those tenses are the use of words already, just, and yet. In BE, the words already, just, and yet are followed by present perfect tense. It differs from AE, those three words are followed by simple past tense. For example; (BE) I’ve just had taken a bath, I’ve already seen him before and (AE) I just took a bath, I already saw him before.

Another concern about the differences of BE and AE comes to their spelling. There are a few major spelling differences between BE and AE. BE tend to keep or adopt other languages such as Latin and Greek. On the contrary, AE applies any spelling use that look more like how the words sound as the following examples;

  • Latin-derived spellings
    • our (BE) and –or (AE). e.g. colour vs color
    • re (BE) and –er (AE). e.g. centre vs center
    • ce (BE) and –se (AE). e.g. defence vs defense

 

  • Greek-deprived spellings
    • ise (BE) and –ize (AE). e.g. centralise vs centralize
    • yse (BE) and –yze (AE). e.g. analyse vs analyze
    • ogue (BE) and –og (AE). e.g. dialogue vs dialog

The third part comes from vocabulary differences of both BE and AE. When spelling of BE and AE are simply different, the vocabulary of both are totally different. That is why some English language learners confront any troubles in using one of them since they can not differ or put it in the right place even the meaning is actually the same. The charts below are the main vocabulary differences between BE and AE;

British English

American English

Autumn Fall
Chips Fries or French fries
Crisps Potato chips
Dustbin or bin Garbage can or trash can
Film Movie
Flat Apartment
Garden Yard
Holiday Vacation
Lift Elevator
Sweets Candy
Torch Flashlight

 

As explained above, there are many differences between British and American English. It is not something to be confused about because most of Americans and Britons know those kinds of differences. Besides, English language learners should concern this material as a foundation to get board English insight. In addition, the explanation above is likely simple case, but it can be crucial when people don’t have it right. The core point is that be consistent – decide which style is going to be used.

 

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