Differences between British English and American English



Differences between British English and American English


Both versions of the English language have the same roots, but they differ from each other in various ways. The most major differences include spelling, pronunciation, vocabulary and use of some tenses. Below you will find a few examples of these differences.



Most differences in spelling in British and American English can be divided into two groups. Word spelling deriving from Latin (o – ou) and from Greek (ize/yze – ise/yse).


BrE – colour, behavior, flavor, analyse, organise, dialogue.

AmE – color, behavior, flavor, analyze, organize, dialog.



With vocabulary there are a couple varieties of differences: there can be two different words for one thing, the same word can mean two different things or the same word for the same thing can be pronounced differently.

BrE           –            AmE

pavement – sidewalk

lift – elevator

biscuit – cookie

lorry – truck

Chips in British English are what French fries are in American English and chips in American English are what crisps are in British English. Pants mean undergarments in British English and trousers in American English.



Difference in pronunciation mainly breaks down to putting stress on different syllables.

BrE       –     AmE

ballet – ballet

garage – garage

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Present perfect vs. past simple

In American English the present perfect tense can be substituted with past simple, the use of both tenses is correct. This applies also to sentences including just, yet and already.


She has lost her book. Let’s help her look for it.

I have just had breakfast with Tony.

Have you finished your coffee yet?


In American English this is also correct:

She lost her book. Let’s help her look for it.

 I just had breakfast with Tony.

Did you finish your coffee yet?


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