A virtual trip to the UK & the USA
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.
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.)
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.
Go to the audio page and do the first listening exercise (syllables).
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.
Click here for a more extensive list.
A 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.
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.
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
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.
I could care less or I couldn't care less?
Go to the video page and watch the video with John Cleese.
There are quite a few differences in spelling between British and American English.
For spoken English, these differences are barely audible, 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!
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.
Try to do the exercise on the spelling of British and American English words.
Click here to open the exercise.
Spelling of Verbs
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'.
The second category of difference includes verbs that use either the -ed ending or the base form of the verb for the simple past.
The third category of difference includes verbs that have either the -ed ending or an irregular spelling for the simple past.
What about grammar?
You discovered that some English words have different meanings and some are spelt differently in American and English 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 differences have a look on this website from the British Council and the BBC.
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.
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