How Are British English and American English Different?

How Are British English and American English Different?


Hello everyone. Welcome to the Langfocus channel and my name
is Paul. Today we’ll be answering the question “How
are British English and American English Different?” – one of the most commonly asked questions
by learners of English. And hopefully native speakers of English will
learn a thing or two from this video as well. The truth is that both British and American
English have numerous varieties, in other words various accents and dialects, so in
(the main part of) this video I will try to focus on the most standard, non-regional variety
of each one. Disclaimer: I’m not American, I’m Canadian. But I’m confident that we will someday be
Americans after the invasion. Standard Canadian English is very very close
to General American English, so I will say the American examples myself, unless there’s
a need to distinguish American pronunciation from Canadian. There are several ways in which Britain English
and the American English different: vocabulary, accent, spelling, and grammar. Vocabulary In the US, people generally say “garbash”
or “trash”, while in the UK they generally say “rubbish”. Both literally and figuratively. “The game was rubbish!” Americans “go on vacation”, while Brits
“go on holidays”. And this is also possible in American English. In the US people rent “apartments”, while
in the UK they rent “flats”. In the US, if your apartment is at street
level, then you live on the first floor, and the person above you lives on the second floor. In the UK, you live on the ground floor, and
the person above you lives on the first floor. If that person above you is unable or just
too lazy to take the stairs, in the US they’d take the elevator. In the UK, they’d take the lift. When you’re bored at home, in the US you might
turn on the TV, while in the UK you would turn on the telly. When you step outside of your building to
go for a walk, in the US you might walk on the sidewalk, while in the UK you walk on
the pavement. And if you’re tired of walking, in the US
you might take the subway. In the UK, you take the underground. In the US, it’s perfectly to wear pants when
you’re riding the subway, but in the UK you’d better wear some TROUSERS too because pants
means underpants. And specifically women’s underpants are sometimes
called knickers in the UK. So when someone overreacts, in the US you
might say “Don’t get your panties in a bunch!” In the UK you’d say “Don’t get your knickers
in a twist!”. Paul how dare you be so crude. Now I can’t show this video to my 6 year old
students! Don’t worry, they’ll watch it on their phones
during recess. Going back to the word “pants” for a moment,
it can also be used in British English as an adjective, meaning something is “crappy”
or “it sucks”. For example “That album is pants”. In American English, you might say “That
album sucks”. Accent So I’ll try to focus on General American English,
and for the UK – Received Pronunciation. These are the accents you’re likely to hear
on CNN and the BBC, respectively. R-sounds American English is rhotic, meaning that “r”
sounds are always clearly pronounced. British English is non-rhotic, meaning that
the “r” sound is not pronounced unless it is followed by a vowel sound. Listen to the difference. US: “My father’s in the car”. UK: “My father’s in the car”. Now let’s focus on two words. US: father UK: father. US: car UK: car. Notice that the final r sound is not pronounced
in British English. “Father” ends in a simple schwa vowel
/ˈfɑː.ðə/. And in “car” the a vowel sound is lengthened
in place of the “r” sound. /kɑː/ Now, the thing about British non-rhotic dialects
that I find pretty wild is something called the intrusive r. That means that people sometimes add an r-sound
to a word that doesn’t actually have one, if it’s followed by a vowel in the next word. For example, in the sentence “I saw a film”. In British English it sometimes sounds like
this: “I saw’r a film”. So you can hear that there’s an “r” sound
connecting “saw” and “a”. I once had British on-the-job trainer, and
she said “Hello my name is Paula and I’ll be your trainer today”. I remember thinking “Pauler? What, you can’t say your own name?” But, it wasn’t just her. That was the “intrusive r”. T-sounds In British English (and again, I must emphasize
that I’m talking about the accent referred to as Received Pronunciation), t sounds are
pronounced as hard Ts, in other words voiceless /t/ sounds. In the US, they sometimes sound like /ɾ/
(an alevelar tap) instead of /t/ (an alveolar stop). This normally occurs in an unstressed syllable,
between 2 vowel sounds, or between a vowel and a rhotic sound (like an “r” sound). So in the US people say butter. [ˈbʌɾɚ]. And in the UK, they say butter. /ˈbʌ.tə/. In the US: Stop fighting! /stɑp ˈfʌɪɾɪŋ/. In the UK: Stop fighting! /stɒp ˈfʌɪtɪŋ/. You may have also noticed the “o” sound
in the word “stop” was a little different, which brings me to… O sounds In the word “stop”, the American “o”
sound is an unrounded vowel /ɑ/ while the British “o” sound is rounded /ɒ/. Another example: US hot /hɑt/ UK: /hɒt/. There is also the “o” diphthong in the
word “know” US /noʊ/ (US). In the UK: /nəʊ/ . In the UK the sound is
a schwa followed by /ʊ/ as in “put”. US: show /ʃoʊ/ UK: show /ʃəʊ/ A sounds. In other words, sounds represented by the
letter “a”) /ɑː/ in UK normally becomes an /æ/ sound
in American English. For example, in the UK: half /hɑːf/. And in the US: half /hæf/. Words that are /æ/ in UK remain pretty similar
in US. For example, in the UK: cat /kæt/. And in the US: /kæt/. An exception is a small set of words in which
the “a” is followed by “rr”, in which case the vowel is pronounced as /e/. In the UK: marry /ˈmæɹɪ/ . In the US:
marry /ˈmɛɹi/. Because of the difference, in the US “marry”
and “Merry” sound the same. “Carry” and “Kerry” sound the same. Spelling: American and British spellings are
largely the same, but there are a few notable differences. This is in large part because Noah Webster
(whom the Webster dictionary is named after) made an effort to reform English spelling
in the 1700s, in order to make the words spelled the way they sounded. This resulted in some spelling changes in
American English. Most (but not all) words that end in ~re in
the UK end in ~er in the US. For example: centre/center, theatre/theater,
metre/meter, sombre/somber. Some words that end in ~nce in the UK are
spelled with ~nse in the US. licence/license. Defence/defense, offence/offense. Some words with “ou” in the UK are spelled
with “o” in the US. Colour/color, favour/favor, honour/honor,
labour/labor, etc. The ending ~ise became ~ize in the US. organise/organize. apologise/apologize. A similar change also occurs in other contexts
where the “s” is voiced (in other words it makes a /z/ sound). Analyse/analyze. Cosy/cozy. There are verbs ending with “l” that take
a doubled “l” in British English when a suffix is added. In American English there is no double “l”. travelled/traveled,
cancelled/canceled, marvellous / marvelous. If you’re wondering how the last one fits
in with the others, remember that “marvel” is a verb, and then an adjectival suffix is
added to it). Grammar: There are only very minor differences
in grammar between British English and American English. Auxiliary verbs. Brits use “shall” for the future much
more than Americans, as well as to ask for advice or an opinion. Some difference in preposition use: In the US, people say “on the weekend”,
but in the UK they say “at the weekend”. And in the US, people say “different from”
or “different than”, but in the UK they say “different from” or “different to”. There are some different past tense forms. For example, in American English the past
tense of the world “learn” is “learned”, while in British English it’s more common
to say “learnt”. Actually, both forms are used in either country,
but there is more of tendency towards one form. This is true for other words like dreamed
vs. dreamt, burned vs. burnt, leaned vs. leant. Another example. In the US, the past tense of dive is usually
“dove”. In the UK it’s “dived”. Maybe the American form developed by analogy
with “drive” and “drove”. Anyways, differences like these are not consistent,
but you’ll notice some different past tense forms here and there. Past participles: Sometimes past participles
have a different form. The most well-known example is for the verb
“get”. In the US, there’s get / got / gotten. But in the UK, it’s get / got / got/. ** Both forms have existed since the Middle
English period, but “gotten” has fallen out of use in the UK. “Got” can be used in American English
in the form “have got”, but with the meaning of “have”, not “has received/become”. US: I haven’t gotten the eviction notice yet. UK: I haven’t got the eviction notice yet. Sentences – Alright, let’s check a couple
of sentences and see what we find. In the US: I think we need a lawyer. In the UK: I reckon we need a solicitor. You’ll notice that a couple of words are different. British people often use the word “reckon”
which means “think” or “suppose”. Americans know this word, but rarely use it. And while Americans would typically refer
to a professional legal consultant as a lawyer, in the UK they often say “solicitor” which
is a type of lawyer that does consultation. The type of lawyer who represents you in court
in the UK in usually a barrister, while in the US they are usually referred to as attorneys. Another sentence. In the US: I’m going for a beer with my friends. In the UK: I’m going for a pint with my mates. Notice that British people often “pint”
where Americans would say “beer”. Brits also say beer as a countable noun like
this, but pint is used frequently. And notice that Brits often say “mate”
where Americans would say “friend”. The differences between British English and
American English might seem surprising or amusing, but remember: in this video I’m zooming
in on the differences and focusing on them. For the most part they are actually the same. There are some minor differences in vocabulary,
in pronunciation, in grammar, and in spelling, but any native speaker with a little bit of
exposure to the other will quickly adapt to these differences and be able to understand
the other variety without any problem. The differences are sometimes greater if we
focus on regional dialects and sociolects of British English and American English. While most Americans probably have no trouble
understanding Received Pronunciation, they mayhave some trouble understanding Cockney
English, or the Georgie English of Northeastern England, or other varieties. But as far as standard, non-regional speech
goes, I’d say that the differences are minimal. However, learners of English who focus on
one of the two varieties, will likely have a bit of trouble understanding the other until
they gain significant more exposure to it. The QOD: What other differences between American
and British English are you aware of? In this video I was only able to give a limited
number of examples, so add yours in the comments! Be sure to follow Langfocus on Facebook, Twitter,
and Instagram. And once again, thank you to all of my wonderful
Patreon supporters. And these ones right here on the screen are
my top tier Patreon supporters, so many extra special thanks to them. And to everyone out there, thank you for watching
and have a nice day.

68 thoughts on “How Are British English and American English Different?

  • I lived in a country that taught British English and then moved to the States. My english teachers tried to correct my grammar and vocabulary saying I spoke incorrectly. 🙁 It ticked me off that they made me adjust what I already knew. I still keep some form of British english in my vocabulary and at times I feel like I second guess myself when I speak. 🙁

  • My British friend says "I'm heading to…" but we usually use "I'm going to…" And also in Australia, we have our own little dialect if u will call it that amongst the younger generation, hahaha for example we use these words very often "Sack" (means to give up on something bcs it's difficult/strange) "that's munted" (means it's ridiculous) "I'm having Tucker" (means I'm having food) "fat" (as an adj this means good) and on top of that when talking online to a friend or anyone we have a bunch of little slang we have, I even used some in this comment, such as "Bcs" "idm" "idk" "idc" "ngl" "sma" "lessgo" "def" "tbh" "uso" "u" "tk" "f" these are only a few and it seems like everyday we get more coming in! Hope u guys learnt/learned something

  • We say, Going to THE hospital
    Brits say, Going to hospital
    We say Privacy with a long i
    Brits say Privacy with a short i
    We say Charades with the 1st a short and the 2nd long
    Brits say cmCharades with both a's short.
    We call our Dollar a BUCK
    Brits call their Pound a QUID
    We say Shut your PIE hole
    Brits say Shut your CAKE hole
    We say Dollar BILL
    Brits say Pound NOTE
    We say I'll call you
    Brits say I'll ring you
    We say Trash Bin or Bucket
    Brits say Dust Bin
    We say Finish Line
    Brits say Winning Post
    We say Baby Carriage
    Brits say Pram
    We say Nanny
    Brits say Au Pair

  • Then America has ebonics, does Britain have that, like we'll say "I'm boutta pull up wit mah dawgs" do Brits have ebonics or sum like it

  • Say Faucet in the UK & nobody will know what you are on about, The word is TAP. Say closet in the UK & we will think you want the bathroom. Closet in UK on used as water closet. Say bathroom and we will offer you a bath tub. In Uk it is toilet, lavatory, WC . In UK jello is jelly. Jelly is jam.Freeway is Motorway. I wish you Yanks would speak proper English. After all we invented the Language. Also hate the way you lack of spelling abilities has intruded into Science. Anyone knows that Sulphur is Sulphur and not Sulfur.

  • I don't know how things function exactly in the rest of the world, but in both spanish (from South / Center America and Spain itself), ''mate'' is used more like in a ''formal'', distant way. It is translated as ''compañero'' (which is perceived more like a ''work person'', or just someone that is related to you, but not so much)

    From my perception and experience, ''friend'' has got two meanings from where I live. The typical world for designing or referring to a close friend or a synonym of ''mate''.

    Just saying.

  • I like Simpsons, Every Body Hates Chris, CSI, Blossom and other American series. These I watched in my mother language, PT-BR.
    Homever, for training my favourite English, the British English, I will watch first Dancing Academy, Downtown Abbey, Harry Potter, The Crown, The Last Kingdom, Black Mirror, Doctor Who, Vickings.
    OBS: Dancing Academy is Australian.
    And you?

  • As a non–native speaker who has mostly been taught British English, but constantly interacts with Americans, my English accent is effectively on a permanent back–and–forth between the US and the UK.

  • 8:15, dreamt and and burnt are definitely used in American English. Burnt is usually used as an adjective. (Burnt toast vs burned toast, burnt sounds better)
    To be honest though, I've never heard "dreamed" before.

  • there's no such thing as American English there is correct English spoken in England and incorrect English which is what the American's speak

  • A note about dropping final r's and the intrusive r, many accents in the northeastern states exhibit these traits as well, particularly in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey. As a lifelong Rhode Islander, I would know. XD ("I sor my fatha's cah pahked by the staw.")

  • Please explain to me why the Beatles, and most all other UK singers, sing in US English, yet speak with British accents. It makes no sense to me at all. It points to US English as the proper way to enunciate. Do we both use the same dictionary? Webster's give the proper pronunciation of words, so I am confused as to how Brits don't seem to get it right.

  • A Canadian with a Canadian accent is trying to teach the english speaking world that americans pronounce “marry” and “merry.” As an american, not only is this wrong, its rubbish. 🤣 Im sure brits and americans would both agree theres a VERY clearly pronounced difference between:

    marry vs merry
    carry vs Kerry
    Barry vs berry
    vary vs very
    parry vs Perry

  • As a non native speaker, I just realized that half of my grammar and vocab is British and the other half is American. And as I can’t pronounce the /r/ sound correctly, I naturally tend to go for British pronunciations even though the base of my English is in fact American. I’m so confused right now 🤔

  • As a child I was confused in stories when British children were carrying torches. I would think, why on Earth didn't they bring a flashlight?? lol

  • As a Dane, I am aware that I’m in deep water here. But with family in both the US and the UK, I’ve noticed some differences. For instance “privacy” in the US is pronounced with the “i” like in “ice” but in the UK like in “lift”. If you write wrong with a pencil, in the UK, you’ll need a rubber – in the US rubber has to do with birth control 😎

  • If you went on a date in the US and the person you were supposed to meet 'blew you off', it would mean that they just didn't show up. In the UK if the lady in question 'blew you off' on the first date, you'd think it was your birthday.

  • If u are in India you know both the language version as we use some phrases from each version I hope we ain't no difference 😅

  • I'm from the UK more specifically from Wales, I speak and wright in the american way, friends and others don't like it they will say I misspelled something or be weirded out by words like hood of a car or pants and stuff, I guess it's more of being online and socializing with the USA people more than I do with british people and watching american content on youtube, I have not sat down and watched british TV for a long time maybe 10 years, I'm not a fan of the UK in many ways, its comedy does not get me laughing for a start while american stuff does, Politics of the UK makes my blood boil we have no freedom like in the US..

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