Differences between British English and US English

2,036 Views Updated: 23 Jul 2018
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Differences between British English and US English

English has officially been mandated as the language of global business.

Approximately 67 nations, 195 countries and over 1.5 billion speak English as their primary language of communication.

Since it is spoken in very different parts of the world it, the language has undergone local changes - cultural, social, political and cultural aspects, ensuing in a language with local variants.

While composing text messages or writing essays or drafting emails, we often get confused with spellings of popular English words and wonder what exactly the differences are. Here’s listing some of the principle differences as outlined by linguists.

Variants of English: British English Vs American English

Accent - The golden rule of ‘r’

British: Don’t pronounce ‘r’ in a word unless the word starts with ‘r’

American: Americans pronounce their ‘r’ but they also emphasize on rolling their ‘r’ 


Stark differentiation in spellings would include

- Usage of ‘our’ in place of ‘or’

Example: Colour, Behaviour (British) | Color, Behavior (American)

- Usage of ‘s’ in place of ‘z’

Example: Organise, Prioritise (British) | Organize, Prioritize (American)

- Usage of  ‘re’ in place of ‘er’

Example: Theatre, Metre (British) | Theater, Meter (American)


British: Holiday | American: Vacation
British: Chips | American: Chips
British: Football | American: Soccer
British: Biscuit | American: Cookie
British: Cinema | American: Movies
British: Chemist | American: Drugstore
British: Flat | American: Apartment


Usage of prepositions

Example (British): I’m going to shop at the weekend.

Example (American): I’m going to shop on the weekend.

Usage of ‘get’ as past participle

Example (British): I’ve not got any information about him.

Example (American): I haven’t gotten any information about him.

Usage of irregular verbs

Example (British): dreamt, learnt, burnt

Example (American): dreamed, learned, burned

If you’re unable to make up your mind on the selection of the language variant, your safest bet would be to adopt International English. International English is neutral in nature, devoid of cultural influences and is a healthy mix of American and British forms.

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