British English vs American English

Although English is spoken practically everywhere in the world and even has a variety of forms, the two most dominant types are British and US English. British English is the form of the language spoken in the United Kingdom, Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand and South Africa, as well as being used in organizations such as the UN, the WTO and the EU. US English is spoken in the United States and used in Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Taiwan to name a few countries. US English is also tending to dominate Internet usage and university preparation.

Although British and US English are in general, mutually understood, there are enough distinctions to cause misunderstandings in communication.

THE DIFFERENCES

American words ending in -or may end in – our in British English. Words like colour, flavour and honour become color, flavor and humor.

British English uses colonise, harmonise and realise as opposed to the American’s colonize, harmonize, and realize, although some British English style manuals prefer -ize suffixes.

British English typically doubles the”l” when adding suffixes that begin with a vowel if “l” is preceded by a single vowel, as in travelling, quarrelled, signaling; whereas US English doubles it only on stressed syllables, as with traveling, quarreled, signaling.

British English uses “t” with past tense verbs as seen in learnt, dreamt and leapt, while US English would read learned, dreamed and leaped.

As for numbers, Americans are prone to read “1,520” as “fifteen twenty”, and “938” (for a house number or bus for instance), as “nine thirty-eight” while British would say “nine three eight”.

British also use “nil” and “naught” when referring to “0”, while the Americans would call it “zero”, “zilch” or “zip”.; and when reading numbers with more than one number in succession, British use the terms “double or treble” as in 007 (“double-oh-seven”) and 888 (treble eight).

SOME WORDS USED ONLY IN BRITISH ENGLISH:

candy floss (cotton candy), naff (tacky), biscuit (cookie), chap (guy), pong (stink/odor), lorry (truck), pushchair (stroller), lift (elevator).

SOME WORDS ONLY USED IN AMERICAN ENGLISH:

Sidewalk (footpath), gas (petrol), cookie (biscuit), elevator(lift), stroller (pushchair/buggy), candy (sweets).