American English has brought into England by the colonists in the seventeenth century. It was the language spoken in England at that time, i.e. Elizabethan English. Now different dialects and accents found in the different parts of North America. This was because America has been peopled from different parts of England and Ireland.

Differences between British English and American English One of the main differences between the British and the American English is off course the spellings. There was an effort to simplify and rationalize English spelling from the time of Benjamin Franklin and Webster, who makes the spellings more compatible with its phonetics. Here are some common examples in which American spellings are differ from that used in Britain.

Illustration by Vikram Roy © 2012.

British English

American English

-our

-or

Colour

Color

Honour

Honor

Behaviour

Behavior

-re

-er

Theatre

Theater

Centre

Center

Metre

Meter

Fibre

Fiber

-ce

-se

Licence

License

Offence

Offense

-se

-ze

Analyse

Analyze

Realise

Realize

Recognise

Recognize

Double Consonant

Single Consonant

Travelling

Traveling

Cancelled

Canceled

Woollen

Woolen

Others

Story

Storey

Cheque

Check

Motor

Moped

Words connected with cars and driving are often cited as examples of such differences, probably because so many differences are found in them.

British English

American English

Side-light

Parking-light

Number plate

License plate

Indicator

Turn signal

Hand brake

Emergency brake

Aerial

Antenna

Driving licence

Driver’s license

Petrol

Gasoline

Lorry

Truck

Motor car

Automobile

Others

Lift

Elevator

Post

Mail

Mobile phone

Cellular phone

Underground

Subway

Biscuits

Cookies

Trousers

Pants

Underwear

Shorts

Wearing

Changing

Toffee

Candy

Photographing

Mugging

Friend

Pal

All right

O.K.

Boy

Guy

Autumn

Fall

Holiday

Vacation

Rubber

Eraser

Noah Webster’s Dictionary, published in 1806 A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language, the first truly American dictionary. He learns 26 languages including, Anglo-Saxon, Anglo-European, Sanskrit, in order to research the origin of American tongue. His dictionary An American Dictionary of the English Language is published in 1828, had 70,000 entries. He alters many of these entries, ‘musick’ to ‘music’, ‘centre’, to ‘center’ etc.

American and British English are actually more similar than differ; both came from the same tongue. The greatest differences between these two variants are noted in colloquial speech. In fact many American words are used in Britain that decreases the difference between the British and the American lexicon.

There are lakhs of different words and phrases. I can’t put the entire dictionary in this post!

Thanks!

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About VIKRAM ROY

Hi, I am Vikram, a friend of you! I would like to take this opportunity of personally welcoming you to my blog! You can read my book “The Alchemist A Mystery In Three Acts” Available now on Amazon.com : http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005IDUD4C Always love, Vikram Roy

26 responses »

  1. boot – trunk
    humour – humor
    tyre – tire

    there are a million others – it’s just those damned Yanks trying to make themselves better than the rest…

  2. willowdot21 says:

    America and the UK two nations divided by one tongue!
    you have OR and Our well in English English they mean two different things:eg: “this OR that.” and “this is OUR place not yours.” …the meanings of word differ a lot and can cause great confusion! Great article thanks for sharing!

  3. In British English:
    1) “metre” is a unit of measurement and “meter” is a device that measures and records something.
    2) “licence” is a noun and “license” is a verb.

  4. zari says:

    Vikram, thanks for the reminder on the differences between the language of English, from the British and American angle. Very informative and enlightening.

    Quite refreshing.

  5. I had a feeling Firefox and LibreOffice’s spelling checkers have been screwing with me. They’ve been offering me American English corrections though I’m certain they’re set to British. 😦

  6. Have about 2 dozen subscribers to my blog from mostly England but other English speaking as well i.e. India, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. What I have found startling is that how many of these non American English speakers are hip to so many slang and what I thought were uniquely American phrases. Must be sharing rock and roll music and TV episodes has spread awareness. Also seems Canadian and US pretty much identical. Many Jamaican and Trinidad here in Miami, Florida but their English is quite different and the children often do not do well in US school as a result. Seems Caribbean English does not include objective or possessive case for pronouns as nominative or subject case used for other two. Vocab different too. I remember one student from Trinidad who got the question about what a wrench was wrong as he did not know the term. Back home a wrench is a spinner.

    • VIKRAM ROY says:

      Its right Carl, even I have noticed that slangs are growing like pop-corns in Indian mouth. Even people can’t speak fluent English communicating through a couple of slangs!

  7. tripman222 says:

    Great article. It’s kind of funny to read it from the other side of the Atlantic, but it’s really interesting to see the European equivalents of all these words and phrases.

  8. Happy Birthday. And I had one question. Photographing and mugging? Really? I hadn’t heard that one, though my husband who is from India, learned British English.

    • VIKRAM ROY says:

      Hi Holly! Mugging is an informal and obsolete journalistic use for photographing! I am not sure but I read something like that… you should confirm it! If possible please help me to update this information here too! 🙂

      In India, education system is based on British English only! But now the popularity of Hollywood films mixing both American and British pronunciation! Even Hinglish, a blending of the words “Hindi” and “English” is getting live in modern youths!

      Thanks!

  9. troy says:

    Looking over the list you provided it seems Canadian English is yet a hybrid of the two. Just more confusion for me 😉

  10. ronkozloff says:

    Thanks, Vikram. Much appreciated.

    Ron Kozloff

  11. Interesting post. And interesting comments too. Wow, Webster learned 26 languages. Including Sanskrit! That’s impressive.

  12. Excellent recap of our common language. There are also variances of American-English as spoken in the USA. For example, soda (meaning a carbonated beverage) is often referred to as pop. And a bag (as in something in which you put your groceries) is in certain parts called a sack. America has produced its very own Tower of Babel (or is that babble)?

  13. I’m fairly well travelled, and have experienced many of these differences. A fun time!

  14. granbee says:

    Vikram, love this post–it explains why my friends think I am living in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean! You see, I get a HUGH kick out of mixing the American English and British English spellings and terms up together! I love words like “lorry” and “petrol”, for they hint to me of scenic drives, rather than madly dashing rush hour traffic!

  15. I have to say (even though I am a born & bred Brit), the American versions are far easier & sensible. I use a whole mixture in my writing!

  16. Ravi Ojha says:

    I’ve kept this post saved in my lappy. Its a great confusion solution for me. Thanks. Till now I’ve missed up a lot of times in both British-American English.

  17. Ben Leib says:

    The car thing is probably because automobiles were invented after US English had already evolved and diverged from Britain’s.

  18. sidmary says:

    wow. this is really helpful as a CIE student who gets the marks deducted for using American spelling!!! thank you for this post.

  19. Deep says:

    That was a very informative piece! Nice read 😀

  20. Lisa says:

    Interesting to read, thanks. Appreciate your visit to my blog, and for liking “What’s That I See”. Hope you stop back by soon.

  21. Excellent! Thanks Vikram.

  22. Thanks for this interesting post, Vikram.
    When I stayed in England on a scholarship grant by the British Council,
    I had to adjust to such spellings (and phonetics), having been used to
    the ‘American English’.

    You have a fascinating blog. I must express my appreciation for your likes
    on my posts, “Light” and “Pieta”, which led me to discover your site.

    See you around. 😉

  23. See the Scottish movie, ‘Angels Share’, it needs subtitles. Though they claim to speak English.

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