English is one of the most popular in the world. It is native to more than 400 million inhabitants of our planet, and freely speak English can at least 1 billion people. Of course, due to cultural particularities and various historical events appeared dialects. Surely you have heard about the most popular language version of the American. How is it different from the «original» British?

Brief history

Wanting to get a full answer to this question, attention should be paid to the study of the history of American English. In the 17-18 centuries, the US has a huge number of settlers who arrived from England, Spain, Germany, France, Norway, Sweden. People who went to explore uncharted territory, it was necessary to engage in the production, to establish Commerce, to create the optimal socio-economic conditions.

In order to achieve joint goals, people was a vital one language. Unsurprisingly, America moved not pretentious and elegant English, which was used by the aristocracy. People needed a practical, affordable and understandable language of the people. Change of priorities, exchange of experience between representatives of various Nations, especially the local climate and nature has led to a gradual modification of the usual English, a unique slang.


American English is more sharp and fast due to the specific characteristics in pronunciation. The basic characteristics of phonetics:

  • the sound [ e ] is virtually indistinguishable from [ R ];
  • the sound [ ju: ] after the consonants [ j ] almost disappears. Often, US residents speak the words duty and student as [ `du:ti ], [stu:dent ];
  • the sound [ r ] is spoken, regardless of its location in words;
  • Americans often do not pay special attention to the diphthongs, for example, the word fate may sound like [fe:t].

What can explain such differences? As already indicated above, American English was formed under the influence of the dialect of immigrants from different countries of the world. People often neglect traditional phonetic rules. British English is subject to a single standard pronunciation Received Pronunciation. In the United States, there are different regional standards.

People who study classical British English, aware of the importance of intonation phrases. It can be descending, ascending, moving, speed, etc. the Americans do not attach much importance to the manner of pronunciation. Usually used smooth scale tone and a descending tone.

By the way, in the study of phonetic differences not forget that vary not only the General rules. Some of the same words in British and American are pronounced completely different. For example, the word schedule residents of the United States speaks with the sound of SK (at the beginning), and the British pronounce the sound sh.


British English is famous for quite complicated grammar. A huge number of times that can easily confuse not only the beginner, is not the only feature of the language. In the US everything is much clearer and more concise. American English involves the use of simple tenses: Present, Future, Past Indefinite. Even the Present Perfect used to refer to a perfect action with visible results, successfully replaced by the Past Indefinite.

For example:

I have cooked dinner. Let’s eat together! (Brit.)
I cooked dinner = I have cooked dinner. (Amer.)
I cooked lunch. Let’s eat together.

Interestingly, even the adverbs just, already and yet in American English can be used with the Past Indefinite, contrary to the rules that we used to teach.

Mary has just received your letter. (Brit.)
Mary just received your letter. = Mary has just received your letter. (Amer.)
Mary just received your letter.

Consider other grammatical differences between American and British English:

1. Designation of ownership. British English involves the use of the verb have got, the Americans can easily replace it with a form of have. For example, in the US you can say Have you got a laptop?, and Do you have a laptop? (You have a laptop?).

2. The use of will and shall. In British English with the first person subject to indicate a future action is still used, the form shall. In American English most often used will. (I shall call him later = I will call him later).

3. Features of the subjunctive mood. American English involves the use of the subjunctive after many words, important, demand, advice, essential , etc. In British English the subjunctive is preferred only in polite conversation and correspondence.

4. Features collective nouns. In British English they are used with verbs. u and many others. number. But American English words require the singular. For example: The family is going/are going to emigrate (UK). The family is going to emigrate (Amer.) (The family is going to emigrate).

5. Use as if and like (like, like). In American English more common word like, in the use of it can be considered a mistake. Americans can say as She smiled as if she knew something, and She smiled like she knew something (She smiled like you knew something).

6. Use of adverbs. People who study American English, aware that adverbs can appear in the sentence before the auxiliary and regular verbs. The British, on the contrary, are placed after verbs. If the British will tell you I am always busy on Monday, the American will say I always am busy on Monday. (I’m always busy on Mondays).

Spelling and word formation

American spelling is more simplistic than the classic British. For example, U.S. residents quite often omit the letter u from the end -our :

colour – color (color)
labour – labor (work)
humour – humor (humor)

Some of the words that in the end in -re, in American versions end in -er. For example, the word «theatre»:

theatre (UK)
theater (Amer.)

Words in Britain ending in -ise, in the United States end in -ize. For example, the word «realize»:

realise (UK)
realize (Amer.)

In the English language appear regularly new words, which are formed by compounding (verb and noun). The difference is that the British use for this purpose, the gerund, and the Americans prefer not to bother and just connect the two words. For example, a sailing boat in the U.S. is a sailboat, in the UK – sailing boat.


The first difference concerns the abbreviations. In England they are often used without any points in the U.S. – exactly the opposite.

People who are learning a foreign language is also likely to be an interesting difference in the use of prepositions. In American English, you can safely omit on before days of the week.

There are inconsistencies in the use of prepositions for and in. In the US they are considered interchangeable in that case, if it is about the period of time up to the present moment. In the UK in such situations is used exclusively for. Consider a simple example:

I haven’t seen my ex-girlfriend in years (Amer.)
I haven’t seen my ex-girlfriend many years (and still didn’t see her).


Perhaps the differences in the lexical composition of American and British English are able to confuse a person even with an excellent level of knowledge. The catch is that some words and phrases have both «versions» of the language, but they Express different meanings. For example, in America the word pants refers to trousers in the UK – the subject of underwear. Because of ignorance of the differences you can get into a very awkward situation.

In addition, for translation of the same Russian words in British and American English use different words. For example, in the US the candy is called candyin the UK – sweets.

The study of language should pay attention to some details. In British English the word holidays is most often used to refer to extended vacation or vacations. In the US this word is in most cases replaced by vacation.

Which variant of English should study?

Of course, it all depends on the circumstances, but if you are not going to live in the USA, definitely recommended to teach British English. To name a few arguments in favor of this solution:

  • British English is well established. It is necessary to study to pass most standardized international tests. You can be sure that with the knowledge of British English you’ll be understood in any point of the globe.
  • British English allows you to form a complete understanding of the grammar. Learning complex rules, you will be able without any difficulty to use different designs in any situation.
  • British English American more diverse. You have a great opportunity to expand vocabulary and make your speech is much richer. In addition, you receive the opportunity to read your favorite English works in the original.

Many modern centres and Tutors offer a variety of programs for the study of British and American English. If you wish to get acquainted with two language options, begin study with the classics and then gradually enrich the knowledge base.