The difference between British and American English

Americans often find it funny how people from the UK speak and write, and vice versa. How did the same language differ in such a special way?
 

1. American spelling was used as a form of protest

The dictionaries of the United States and the Great Britain are very different, as they were compiled by two unrelated authors: the British dictionary was written by the London Philological Society, which simply collected all existing English words, while the American one was compiled by lexicographer Noah Webster. Webster wanted the spelling to be not only easier, but also different from the British one. He excluded the letter u from words in which it is not pronounced, for example, “colour and honour”, making them “color and honor”. The ending -ise was changed to -ize so that the spelling matches the pronunciation. For example, “memorise” has become “memorize”, and so on. Thus, the young states of America showed their independence from the rule of the former metropolis.
 

2. Borrowings from different languages

The second reason is that this “couple” developed differently, as they were influenced by different cultures independently. For example, “coriander” (borrowed by the British from French), and “cilantro (the same coriander)”, the Americans picked up from Spanish. "Aubergine (taken from the Arabic language) in the USA is better known as "eggplant" (for them, this vegetable looks like an egg).

More lexical differences are presented in the table below.
 

American English (AmE)

British English (BrE)    

apartment

Flat

vacation

Holiday

chips

Crisps

(french) fries

Chips

the movies / movie theater

the cinema

soda / pop / soft drink

soft drink / fizzy drink

Sneakers / tennis shoes

Trainers

sweater

Jumper

mailbox

Postbox

band-aid

Plaster

drugstore

chemist’s

cookies

Biscuits

trousers

pants, trousers

pants, panties

underpants, panties

soccer

Football

 

"Football" is used by Americans to call the game that we call American football.

The knowledge gained from this article will help you avoid confused glances and smiles, as well as misunderstandings from natives! You must admit that not all British women will appreciate if you tell them “You have nice pants” which means, “You have beautiful underpants” in British. But in America it may be a more acceptable compliment, since there the word "pants" means only pants.

Stay and "get English" with us, as in the next article, "Differences in Grammar in American and British English" we will continue to reveal this topic.

Author: Andrew Shapovalov

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