The two varieties of English most widely found in print and taught around the world are British and American - it is therefore important for teachers to be aware of the major differences between the two. And while lexical differences are the easiest ones to notice, a knowledge of grammatical and phonological differences can be useful not only for teachers to be aware of, but also to be able to deal with should they come up in class.
Lack of awareness can lead to embarrassment and confusion.
Over the past 400 years, the form of the language used in the Americas – especially in the United States – and that used in the United Kingdom and the British Islands have diverged in many ways, leading to the dialects now commonly referred to as American English and British English.
One particular contribution towards formalizing these differences came from Noah Webster , who wrote the first American dictionary (published 1828) with the intention of showing that people in the United States spoke a different dialect from Britain.
'England and America are two countries divided by the same language‘ G.B.Shaw
"We have really everything in common with America nowadays, except, of course, the language." Oscar Wilde
Henry Sweet predicted in 1877 that within a century, American English, Australian English and British English would be mutually unintelligible . It may be the case that increased worldwide communication through radio, television, the Internet, and globalization has reduced the tendency to regional variation .
What do we mean by American English and British English?
is the form of English used in the United State. It includes all English dialects used within the United States of America
Regional dialects in the United States typically reflect the elements of the language of the main immigrant groups in any particular region of the country, especially in terms of pronunciation and vernacular vocabulary. Scholars have mapped at least four major regional variations of spoken American English: Northern (really north-eastern), Southern, Midland, and Western.
British English also has a reasonable degree of uniformity in its formal written form. The spoken forms though vary considerably, reflecting a long history of dialect development amid isolated populations. Dialects and accents vary not only between the countries in the United Kingdom, England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, but also within these individual countries.
There are also differences in the English spoken by different socio-economic groups
Speakers of American English generally use the present perfect tense (have/has + past participle) far less than speakers of British English. In spoken American English it is very common to use the simple past tense as an alternative in situations where the present perfect would usually have been used in British English.
TENSES I just had lunch. I‘ve just had lunch. I already saw that film. I‘ve already seen that film. Did you finish your work? Have you finished your work? I lost my keys. Can you help me look for it?(accepted in AmE) I have lost my keys. Can you help me look for it?(incorrect in BrE) AMERICAN ENGLISH BRITISH ENGLISH
In AmE ‘have’ and forms with do/does/did are the usual way to show possession, etc,in positive statements,negatives and questions. Have got is not used in questions but is used in positive statements,especially to emphasise that somebody has one thing rather than the other. “Does your brother have brown hair”?. “No, he has got blond hair.”
“ Have you got” is the usual verb in BrE to show possession,etc, in positve statements in the present tense, in negative statements and in the questions.
have you got/ do you have We don’t have a television I have got no objection. I have no objection.(formal) Do you have a meeting today? Have you got a meeting today? They have a wonderful house.(AmE) They have got a wonderful house. (BrE)
In British English collective nouns, (i.e. nouns referring to particular groups of people or things), (e.g. staff , government, class, team) can be followed by a singular or plural verb depending on whether the group is thought of as one idea, or as many individuals , e.g.:
My team is winning. The other team are all sitting down. In American English collective nouns are always followed by a singular verb, so an American would usually say:
Which team is losing? whereas in British English both plural and singular forms of the verb are possible, according to whether the emphasis is, respectively, on the body as a whole or on the individual members as in:
Compare also the following lines of Elvis Costello 's song "Oliver's Army": Oliver's Army are on their way / Oliver's Army is here to stay . Some of these nouns, for example staff , actually combine with plural verbs most of the time.
In AmE, collective nouns are usually singular in construction: the committee was unable to agree
the team takes their seats
The Differences of Vocabulary In British English and American English
CLOTHES undershirt vest glasses spectacles Underwear/underpants/boxers Pants Boot/ galoshes Wellies Jumper ( a dress without sleeve worn over a shirt) Pinafore sweater Jumper Sweats/sweatsuit/sweatpants tracksuit nightgown nightdress vest waistcoat necktie tie pants trousers AMERICAN ENGLISH BRITISH ENGLISH
TRANSPORTATION AMERICAN BRITISH Trolley( an electric vehicle) Tram( an elctric vehicle) trucks lorries Gas pedal accelerator windshield windscreen hood bonnet tire tyre License plate Numberplate trunk boot Emergency brake Handbrake blinker indicator
TRANSPORTATION trucks lorries Bicycle route Cycle path overpass flyover Gear shift Gear stick Side mirror Wing mirror Freeway / Highway motorway subway Underground pass Overtake/pull out Bus coach AMERICAN BRITISH
BUILDINGS AMERICAN BRITISH Baby carriage pram stove cooker Faucet tap Lift elevator Garbage can/ wastebasket Dustbin/ bin Picket fence fence Sidewalk pavement Apartment buildings Block of flats apartment flat Tv antena Tv aerial
MISCELLANEOUS handbag chips torch rubber biscuit mince tin row Laundry basket BRITISH purse fries flashlight eraser cookie Chopped beef can argument hamper AMERICAN
MISCELLANEOUS cot trolley Notice board Hat stand coach Toilet / lavotary/Gents/ Ladies/ WC/ Loo Public school University BRITISH Crib( a small bed for a child) Shopping cart Bulletin board Coat stand Bus Bathroom /restroom/ Washroom Private school college AMERICAN
MISCELLANEOUS jelly Jam line Queue turtle tortoise corn maize soccer football mail post Cellular phone Mobile phone guy Bloke/ chap lawyer solicitor bills banknotes AMERICAN BRITISH
MISCELLANEOUS counter worktop skillet Frying pan Mail slot letterbox watchband Watch strap yard garden stopper bung zipper zip vacuum hoover Movie theatre/ movies cinema AMERICAN BRITISH
An interview with Dileri Borunda Johnston Author of "Speak American: A Survival Guide to the Language and Culture of the U-S-A."