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ESSAY:Three differences between use of the British English and American English

Updated on May 5, 2011

Three differences between use of the British English and American English

Similarly to the British English, American English is a term that describes a language that is spoken in the United States of America (Peters 2004:34). It is also a broad term and shows the collection of words, pronunciation patterns which are used in the United States but that does not imply that every American speaks American English as it is defined in books. Here are some different use of the British English and American English.

First, the difference use in tenses. In British English the present perfect is used to express an action that has occurred in the recent past that has an effect on the present moment. For example: I've misplaced my pen. Can you help me find it? In American English, the use of the past tense is also permissible: I misplaced my pen. Can you help me find it? In British English, however, using the past tense in this example would be considered incorrect.

Second, there are also have different in vocabulary. While some words may mean something in British English, the same word might be something else in American English and vice versa. For example, Athlete in British English is one who participates in track and field events whereas Athlete in American English is one who participates in sport in general. There are also some words like AC, Airplane, bro, catsup, cell phone etc. which are common in American English and not used very often in British English. Some words widely used in British English and seldom in American English are advert, anti clockwise, barrister, cat's eye.

Third, we talk about the different in the use of preposition. Here are also a few differences between British and American English in the use of prepositions. For example: While the British would play in a team, Americans would play on a team. Another example: While the British would go out at the weekend, Americans would go out on the weekend. So be careful of using preposition.

Inconclusion, it is clear that the poor non-native speaker has an almost impossible task to keep the two languages separated. The best he can do is to acquire a good reference book. Some book that can tell you such as Practical English Usage, M. Swan (1995), Oxford University Press or The Right Word at the Right Time (A guide to the English language and how to use it) (1985) Readers Digest.


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