uk and usa

The Differences between US English and UK English

Although the English language is in the US is derived almost exclusively from the UK, there are still subtle differences between the two languages based on the different backgrounds and histories of each country. This is primarily because both countries have had different influences over the years as different people have come into their respective countries.

Written English

There is actually very little difference between written English in both the US and the UK apart from some minor spelling differences. The most common is the extra “u” in certain words. For example, there is the US word “color” whereas in the UK it is “colour”. However, formal or “standard” English as written is practically identical in both countries.

However, there are some subtle noun and verb differences between both languages that can be seen from time to time. In the UK a group, country or team is often seen as a plural while in the US it is often seen as a singular. For example, in the UK a sentence would read, “Spain are the Champions of the World” while in the US it would be “Spain is the champions of the world”.

The reason for this difference is unknown, although it may have something to do with the American Civil War in which previously Americans would refer to their country as “The United States are….” As opposed to today where it is stated, “The United States is…”

Spoken English

Here, the differences are slightly more pronounced as each country has their own dialects, slang and words that have developed over the past two centuries. Although people from both countries can speak to each other and understand virtually all the words, there are subtle differences based on a number of different factors.

In England, the standard form of the spoken language is generally called “The Queen’s English” or “Oxford English” which does not refer necessarily to the Queen herself or the city of Oxford, but simply the standard form of English that is spoken. In the US, there is a form known as “Standard” English that is used by those in the media, politicians and others who speak to the nation.

There are the standard and common differences between words for objects such as “brolly” in England is “umbrellas” in the US. People live in an “apartment” in the US while UK residents call them “flats”. The “elevator” in the US is called a “lift” in England and so forth. Such differences between two countries are rather expected.

However, there are some curious differences between the US and UK English in terms of specific words. For example, the term “lit” is the past tense term for “light” in the UK. However in the US, “lit” means to set something on fire which is a completely different use of the term.

For the most part, the differences between the US and UK English is minor and people in both countries can understand and converse easily with each other, even if they use certain words or tense phrases that are not found in the other country. However, for those who plan on writing in English, then it is important to understand the differences between both the UK and US standards.