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British vs. American English

Although they are the same language, British and American English have some major differences.

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Even though both are acceptable on the IELTS test, it can be confusing and overwhelming when learning English. Here are some of the more common differences between British and American English.

 

English

Vocabulary

British and American English have evolved quite differently, especially in terms of vocabulary. This is because vocabulary used in British English is derived from different languages than vocabulary used in American English. Although there are a large number of words that are exactly the same, many words are completely different.

Clothes

British
American

trousers
pants

trainers
sneakers

jumper
sweater

dungarees
overalls

nappy
diaper

Food

British
American

chips
french fries

aubergine
eggplant

biscuit
cookie

candy floss
cotton candy

maise
corn

School

British
American

full stop
period

maths
math

rubber
eraser

plaster
band-aid

loo
bathroom

Homes

British
American

flat
apartment

lift
elevator

washbasin
sink

wardrobe
closet

torch
flashlight

Cars

British
American

lorry
truck

windscreen
windshield

bonnet
hood

boot
trunk

indicator
blinker


Spelling

The spelling of words can also be different in British and American English. This can also be due to the languages the words were adopted from. Also, words used in American English tend to be spelled the way they sound. It is also said that vocabulary used in American English was spelled differently to gain some independence.

 

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-RE/-ER

British
American

centre
center

metre
meter

litre
liter

theatre
theater

fibre
fiber

-OUR/-OR

British
American

colour
color

neighbour
neighbor

favourite
favorite

humour
humor

labour
labor

-SE/-ZE

British
American

apologise
apologize

realise
realize

memorise
memorize

organise
organize

specialise
specialize

-LL/-L

British
American

traveller
traveler

signalling
signaling

modelling
modeling

-T/-ED

British
American

dreamt
dreamed

learnt
learned

burnt
burned


Grammar

There are also some differences in grammar. These differences may not be as noticeable as the vocabulary and may be easier to understand.

Shall

British
American

Shall we go to the theatre now?

Should we go to the theater now?
OR
Would you like to go to the theater now?

Got/Gotten

British
American

Has he got the papers yet?

Has he gotten the papers yet?

Collective Nouns + is/are

British
American

The Team are playing a game tomorrow night.

The team is playing a game tomorrow night.

Prepositions

British
American

What do you do at the weekend?

I live in that street.

What do you do on the weekend?

I live on that street.

Needn’t

British
American

She needn’t come to the party.

She doesn’t need to come to the party.

Though there looks to be many differences between British and American English, there are even more similarities. Both forms of vocabulary, spelling, and grammar are accepted on the IELTS test so there is no need to worry. It may be useful to know some vocabulary from both British and American English because either could be used throughout the test. Whatever you use, make sure you know how to spell the word and use it in a grammatically correct sentence.

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