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The Important Differences Between UK and USA English?

Being a widely spoken language, English has many variants. The most popular difference is between the UK and the US-style of spoken as well as written English. A long imperial history and also many modern changes have significantly contributed to the same. While the UK version is the basis of scholarly work and education in many parts of the world, US English is largely popular and impactful due to Hollywood.

It’s surprising and often confusing that a certain language can be spoken in such a diverse way. While native English speakers may find it easier to stick to their colloquial terminologies, others often confuse between the two. Even the everyday differences especially vocabulary might make one feel like two different languages are being spoken. So, while an American takes a nibble out of a cookie, a British would instead enjoy a biscuit. The latter can take a vacation but the former would only go on holiday. To put things simply, here is a breakdown of the major differences:

 Both Spell Words Differently 

Many of us find ourselves changing words like color to colour depending upon the audience we are catering to. This a very important difference between British and US English as they both spell words differently. One has to be careful about right word usage while drafting anything for both the sections. Some common words that are similar-sounding but written differently in both countries are:

British version: centre, theatre, defence, apologise, neighbour, flavour

American version: center, theater, defense, apologize, neighbor, flavor

 Variation in Vocabulary 

Another significant difference that you will notice seeing an American or a British interact is their vocabulary. The US population use words in their conversation which is different from the standard form used in the UK. While it is easy enough to understand in what context they are speaking, it is important to be aware of the difference in their vocabulary. 

For example, a person living in New York will use the subway to travel and someone in Birmingham will use the underground. Two words that are vastly different but hold the same meaning. 

While spelling and vocabulary is possibly the most evident difference that one notices in the US and UK English, grammar also plays a major part here. The British population is very particular about correct grammar usage and Queens English is the standard form used by many educational institutes abroad. This language is a primary medium of instruction and hence it is often recommended to go for English courses to give one’s career the right boost. 

The grammatical differences between the US and UK English are: 

Usage of Past Tense Verbs

Grammar difference mainly arises during written English but they are noticeable in the way one speaks as well. A British English speaker would say, ‘I burnt my toast’ while the American version would replace the burnt with burned. Similarly learnt in the UK will become learned in the US. 

The past form of irregular verbs generally ends with –ed in the USA and with a –t in the UK. 

One has to keep this in mind while making use of any of the two variants of the English language. 

Employing Tag Questions

With the use of tag questions, you can turn a statement into a question and this form of grammar is widely used by the British populace. Americans, on the other hand, are not very keen about them. 

The main role of the tag question is to get a response from the listener. For example, ‘It’s very hot today? Isn’t it?’