British english vs American EnglishEnglish is the third most spoken language in the world after Mandarin and spanish
. The spread of english from england
to many parts of the world is greatly due to the colonization and trade of the British. In 1607, english was first introduced to America and this is where the divergence of english into British english and American english begins. With more than 400 years of influences in development, the english in America and the United Kingdom has diverged in grammar, spelling and vocabulary.
There are many differences in grammar between the British english and American english. These differences include habit of language usage and writing formality. However, it is difficult to detail all the differences, thus, only a few principal differences will be discussed. In British english, shall is often used for future tense and when offering. In American english, will and should is more often used for future tense and when offering respectively. The differences are shown in the following example: “I shall do this and shall I help you?” and “I will do this and should I help you?” Another difference in grammar is the habit of using “as if” or “like”. The conjunction “as if” is more commonly used in British english than in American english; “like” is more commonly used in American english. Lastly, American english often uses simple past tense to describe situations where present perfect tense should be used. In British english, the following question would be “have you read the book yet?” but in American english, the same question would be “did you read the book yet?”
In the late 17th century, the spelling of english has not been standardized. Different dictionaries with different spelling were published. The American english and the British english used a different dictionary as a reference when standardizing english and since then, the spelling between the two dialects has been deviated from each other. A few of the spelling differences will be discussed below. One difference in Latin-derived spelling is the ending “our” and “or” which is used in British english and American english, respectively. Examples include “behaviour” and “behavior”, “colour” and “color”, and “humour” and “humor”. Another difference in spelling is the ending “yse” and “yze” which is used in British english and American english, respectively. Examples include “analyse” and “analyze”, “paralyse” and “paralyze”, and “catalyse” and “catalyze”. Lastly, American english commonly simplify “ae” and “oe” to “e” for words such as anaesthetic to anesthetic, paediatric to pediatric and oestrogen to estrogen.
Differences in vocabulary between British english and American english can be easily found because many new concepts and systems were established during the 400 years of english development in Britain and America. Without international communications like now, the developments in both countries were independent and separate. Differences can be found in the field of education. A university student has to “take an exam” in America, whereas, a British university student has to “sit and exam”. A “college” student in America refers to somebody studying at a post-graduate institution where bachelor’s degrees are offered such as a university. However, a “college” student in Britain refers to somebody studying at any post-graduate institution that is not a university. Differences can also be found in transportation such as a “car park” in Britain is a “parking lot” in America and a “muffler” in America is a “silencer” in Britain. British and American often use different words to describe the same object or event but sometimes, they use the same word to describe different objects or events. For example in sports, “football” in America is American football but “football” in Britain is “soccer”. Beside these examples, there are many more differences in vocabulary between the British and American including measurements, time, dates, politics and etc.
Despite the differences in British english and American english, British and American speakers are still intelligible. Although other differences between the two cultures may still arise from ongoing english development, the speed of variation and divergence has greatly reduced due to global media such as the internet and television. With more advanced communication technology, British english and American english might even begin to converge.