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    Pronunciation

    Pronunciation

    One aspect of American and British English pronunciation differences is differences in accent.

    The General American (GA) and the Received Pronunciation (RP) accents have some significant points of difference. However, regional accents in each country may show even greater differences.

    Received Pronunciation (RP), also called the Queen's or King's English, Oxford English or BBC English, is the accent of Standard English in England. General American (GA), also known as Standard American English (SAE), is a major accent of American English.


    PhonemicChart
    A short history
    Click here for a short history on the differences between British and American English.
    (You can change the number of times you wish to hear a line by clicking on the number in the top richt corner.)

    Phonemic chart
    Click here to open the new British Council phonemic chart. This will help you hear the sounds of British English.
    Try to repeat and practice all the sounds and sample words.

    Online dictionary with audio pronunciations
    Visit the Macmillan Online Dictionary and listen to the British and American pronunciation of every word.

    Type the word you wish to hear in the Search box. Click on Pronunciation to listen to the British pronunciation of the word. Switch to the American version by clicking on View American Definition (in small letters under the definition).
    Again, click on Pronunciation for the American pronunciation of the word.

    Exercise
    Go to the audio page and do the first listening exercise (syllables).

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    Vocabulary

    Here are a few words that are different in British and American English. This list highlights some of the variety that exists within English, but it is not a complete list by any means.
                                                          
    Britis American
    British
    American
    British
    American
    American football
    football
    draughts
    checkers
    motorway
    super highway or freeway
    aubergine
    eggplant
    dustbin
    garbage can or trash can
    nappy
    diaper
    autumn
    fall
    film
    movie
    number plate
    license plate
    bank note
    bill
    first floor
    second floor
    petrol gas or gasoline
    bill (restaurant)
    check
    flat
    apartment
    post
    mail
    biscuit
    cookie
    fortnight
    two weeks
    postal code
    zip code
    boot (car)
    trunk
    garden
    yard
    reception (hotel)
    front desk
    caravan
    trailer
    holiday
    vacation
    rubber
    eraser
    chemist's shop
    drugstore or pharmacy
    iced lolly
    popsicle
    solicitor
    lawyer or attorney
    chips
    French fries
    interval
    intermission
    spirits
    liquor
    cinema
    theater
    knickers (for girls)
    panties or underwear
    sultana
    raisin
    cooker
    stove
    let
    lease or rent
    sweets
    candy
    courgette
    zucchini
    lift
    elevator
    trousers
    pants
    crisps
    (potato) chips
    lorry
    truck
    tube/underground
    subway

    Click here for a more extensive list.

    wordsA few exercises
    Click here to test your knowledge of a small selection of British and American English words.
    Click here for a word matching exercise.

    Let's translate!
    Click here to open the exercise. Write your answers on a piece of paper.
    Click here to check your answers.

    Go to the video page and make the exercise with the video How to Understand the Difference Between British and American English.


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    SlangSlang

    Slang is the use of informal words and expressions that are not standard in someone's language. Sometimes slang might include words and meanings which are not polite and which might stay in use only for a short time. It is mostly used by people who know each other and it is usually spoken rather than written. For instance, Chicken is slang for someone who isn't very brave.


    A few more examples

    British Slang
    British English
    American Slang
    American English
    all over the shop
    disorganised
    bash
    a big, exciting party
    doris
    wife or girlfriend
    munchies
    snacks, like potato chips, popcorn, pretzels
    flog
    to sell
    windbag
    a boring person who talks too much
    freebie
    something given free, a free sample fishy
    suspicious
    pad
    one's flat, room, home whine
    to complain

    Click here for an online dictionary of slang from a British perspective.
    Here you'll find an online dictionary of slang in American English.

    Go to the video page and make the exercise with the video Hugh Laurie and Ellen.



     
    Care Less
    CareLess

    I could care less
    or I couldn't care less?

    Go to the video page and watch the video with John Cleese.


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    Spelling

    VocabularyThere are quite a few differences in spelling between British and American English.

    For spoken English, these differences are barely audi
    ble, so don't be too concerned with whether a word is spelled colour or color. With written English, however, if you are unsure about the spelling, ask your teacher or look up the word in the dictionary.


    Just remember that both varieties of English are accepted everywhere.
    It doesn't matter which one you choose, just try to remain consistent in all your writing!


    -our versus -or
    -se versus -ze
    -re versus -er -ogue versus -og
    British
    American
    British American
    British American British American
    colour
    favourite
    honour
    color
    favorite
    honor
    analyse
    criticise
    memorise
    analyze
    criticize
    memorize

    centre
    metre
    theatre
    center
    meter
    theater
    analogue
    catalogue
    dialogue
    analog
    catalog
    dialog
    -l versus -ll
    -oe or -ae versus -e-que versus -ck or -k -ce versus -se
    British
    American
    British
    American
    British
    American
    British
    American
    enrolment
    fulfil
    skilful
    enrollment
    fulfill
    skillful
    encyclopaedia
    manoeuvre
    mediaeval

    encyclopedia
    maneuver
    medieval

    banque
    cheque
    chequer
    bank
    check
    checker
    defence
    licence
    practice
    defense
    license
    practise

    There are many exceptions to the ‘-re’ spelling in British usage. Among these are chapter, December, diameter, perimeter, disaster, enter, filter, letter, member, minister, monster, October, November, number, oyster, parameter, powder, proper, September, sober and tender.

    Other Spelling Differences
    British
    American
    ageing
    aluminium
    draught (current of air)
    grey
    jewellery
    mould
    mum
    omelette
    programme
    pyjamas
    plough
    sceptic
    tyre
    woollen
    aging
    aluminum
    draft
    gray
    jewelry
    mold
    mom
    omelet
    program
    pajamas
    plow
    skeptic
    tire

    woolen

    SpellingBee

    Try to do the exercise on the spelling of British and American English words.
     Click here to open the exercise.



    Spelling of Verbslearnt

    Here are a few examples of the main differences with verbs.

    With this first category, the rule is that if there is a verb form with -t, British English uses it and if there is a form with -ed, American English uses it.

    However, these forms do not exist for every verb and there is variation.  For example, both American and British English would use the word 'worked' for the past form of 'to work', and in American English it is common to hear the word 'knelt' as the past tense of 'to kneel'. 

    Base form
    British
    American
    to dream
    to leap
    to learn
    dreamt
    leapt
    learnt
    dreamed
    leaped
    learned
     

    The second category of difference includes verbs that use either the -ed ending or the base form of the verb for the simple past.

    Base form
    British
    American
    to fit
    to forecast
    to wed
    fitted
    forecasted
    wedded
    fit
    forecast
    wed

    The third category of difference includes verbs that have either the -ed ending or an irregular spelling for the simple past

    Base form
    British
    American
    to knit
    to light
    to strive
    knitted
    lighted
    strived
    knit
    lit
    strove

    What about grammar?
    You discovered that some English words have different meanings and some are spelt differently in American and Engli
    sh English. But what about grammar?

    Grammar is the glue that holds a language together and, therefore, is virtually the same wherever English is spoken. There are a few noticeable differences. If you wish to learn more on grammar dif
    ferences have a look on this website from the British Council and the BBC.


    Comparisons

    How many differences between British and American English can you find from reading these two short texts?
    Click here to open the text. Write all the differences on a piece of paper.

    Click here to open the correction sheet.

    HarryPotter

    If you are a Harry Potter fan, have a look at this website where you can find a comparison of the British edition Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone with the American edition Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone







    Website: M. Pirson