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The English language was first introduced to the Americas by British colonization, beginning in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. The language also spread to numerous other parts of the world as a result of British trade and colonisation and the spread of the former British Empire, which, by 1921, included about 470–570 million people, about a quarter of the world's population. Written forms of British and American English as found in newspapers and textbooks vary little in their essential features, with only occasional noticeable differences.[1]

Over the past 400 years, the forms of the language used in the Americas—especially in the United States—and that used in the United Kingdom have diverged in a few minor ways, leading to the versions now often referred to as American English and British English. Differences between the two include pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary (lexis), spelling, punctuation, idioms, and formatting of dates and numbers. However, the differences in written and most spoken grammar structure tend to be much less than in other aspects of the language in terms of mutual intelligibility. A few words have completely different meanings in the two versions or are even unknown or not used in one of the versions. One particular contribution towards formalizing these differences came from Noah Webster, who wrote the first American dictionary (published 1828) with the intention of showing that people in the United States spoke a different dialect from those spoken in the UK, much like a regional accent.[2]

This divergence between American English and British English has provided opportunities for humorous comment: e.g. in fiction George Bernard Shaw says that the United States and United Kingdom are "two countries divided by a common language";[3] and Oscar Wilde says that "We have really everything in common with America nowadays, except, of course, the language" (The Canterville Ghost, 1888). Henry Sweet incorrectly predicted in 1877 that within a century American English, Australian English and British English would be mutually unintelligible (A Handbook of Phonetics). Perhaps increased worldwide communication through radio, television, the Internet and globalization has tended to reduce regional variation. This can lead to some variations becoming extinct (for instance the wireless being progressively superseded by the radio) or the acceptance of wide variations as "perfectly good English" everywhere.

Although spoken American and British English are generally mutually intelligible, there are occasional differences which might cause embarrassment—for example, in American English a rubber is usually interpreted as a condom rather than an eraser;[4] and a British fanny refers to the female pubic area, while the American fanny refers to an ass (US) or an arse (UK).

Word derivation and compounds


  • Directional suffix -ward(s): British forwards, towards, rightwards, etc.; American forward, toward, rightward. In both dialects distribution varies somewhat: afterwards, towards, and backwards are not unusual in America; while in the United Kingdom upward and rightward are the more common options, as is forward, which is standard in phrasal verbs such as look forward to.[5][6][7] The forms with -s may be used as adverbs (or preposition towards) but rarely as adjectives: in the UK, as in America, one says "an upward motion". The Oxford English Dictionary in 1897 suggested a semantic distinction for adverbs, with -wards having a more definite directional sense than -ward; subsequent authorities such as Fowler have disputed this contention.
  • American English (AmE) freely adds the suffix -s to day, night, evening, weekend, Monday, etc. to form adverbs denoting repeated or customary action: I used to stay out evenings; the library is closed Saturdays. This usage has its roots in Old English but many of these constructions are now regarded as American (for example, the OED labels nights "now chiefly N. Amer. colloq." in constructions such as to sleep nights, but to work nights is standard in British English).
  • In British English (BrE), the agentive -er suffix is commonly attached to football (also cricket; often netball; occasionally basketball and volleyball). AmE usually uses football player. Where the sport's name is usable as a verb, the suffixation is standard in both dialects: for example, golfer, bowler (in Ten-pin bowling and in Lawn Bowls), and shooter. AmE appears sometimes to use the BrE form in baller as slang for a basketball player, as in the video game NBA Ballers. However, this is derived from slang use of to ball as a verb meaning to play basketball.
  • English writers everywhere occasionally make new compound words from common phrases; for example, health care is now being replaced by healthcare on both sides of the Atlantic. However, AmE has made certain words in this fashion that are still treated as phrases in BrE.
  • In compound nouns of the form , sometimes AmE prefers the bare infinitive where BrE favours the gerund. Examples include (AmE first): jump rope/kipping rope; racecar/racing car; rowboat/rowing boat; sailboat/sailing boat; file cabinet/filing cabinet; dial tone/dialling tone; drainboard/draining board.
  • Generally AmE has a tendency to drop inflectional suffixes, thus preferring clipped forms: compare cookbook v. cookery book; Smith, age 40 v. Smith, aged 40; skim milk v. skimmed milk; dollhouse v. dolls' house; barber shop v. barber's shop.[8]
  • Singular attributives in one country may be plural in the other, and vice versa. For example, the UK has a drugs problem, while the United States has a drug problem (although the singular usage is also commonly heard in the UK); Americans read the sports section of a newspaper; the British are more likely to read the sport section. However, BrE maths is singular, just as AmE math is: both are abbreviations of mathematics.
  • Some British English words come from French roots, while American English finds its words from other places, e.g. AmE eggplant and zucchini are aubergine and courgette
  • Similarly, American English has occasionally replaced more traditional English words with their Spanish counterparts.

Vocabulary


The familiarity of speakers with words and phrases from different regions varies, and the difficulty of discerning an unfamiliar definition also depends on the context and the term.

Words such as bill and biscuit are used regularly in both AmE and BrE but can mean different things in each form. The word "bill" has several meanings, most of which are shared between AmE and BrE. However, in AmE "bill" often refers to a piece of paper money (as in a "dollar bill") which in BrE is more commonly referred to as a note. In AmE it can also refer to the visor of a cap.[9] In AmE a biscuit (from the French twice baked as in biscotto) is what in BrE is called a scone and a biscuit in BrE is in AmE a cookie (from the Dutch 'little cake'). As chronicled by Winston Churchill, the opposite meanings of the verb to table created a misunderstanding during a meeting of the Allied forces;[10]The%20Second%20World%20]]in BrE to table an item on an agenda means to for discussion whereas in AmE, it means to remove it from discussion, or at times, to suspend or delay discussion.

The word "football" in BrE refers to association football, also known as soccer. In AmE, "football" means American football. The standard AmE term "soccer", a contraction of "association (football)", is of British origin, derived from the formalization of different codes of football in the 19th century, and was a fairly unremarkable usage (possibly marked for class) in BrE until relatively recently; it has lately become perceived incorrectly as an Americanism. In international (i.e. non-American) context, particularly in sports news outside English-speaking North America, American (or US branches of foreign) news agencies also use "football" to mean "soccer", especially in direct quotes.

Similarly, the word "hockey" in BrE refers to field hockey and in AmE, "hockey" means ice hockey.

Words with completely different meanings are relatively few; most of the time there are either (1) words with one or more shared meanings and one or more meanings unique to one variety (for example, bathroom and toilet) or (2) words the meanings of which are actually common to both BrE and AmE but that show differences in frequency, connotation or denotation (for example, smart, clever, mad).

Some differences in usage and/or meaning can cause confusion or embarrassment.

Similarly, in AmE the word pants is the common word for the BrE trousers and knickers refers to a variety of half-length trousers (though most AmE users would use the term "shorts" rather than knickers), while the majority of BrE speakers would understand pants to mean underpants and knickers to mean female underpants.

Sometimes the confusion is more subtle.

Most speakers of American English are aware of some uniquely British terms, It is generally very easy to guess what some words, such as "driving licence", mean.

Speakers of BrE are likely to understand most common AmE terms, examples such as "sidewalk (pavement)", "gas (gasoline/petrol)", "counterclockwise (anticlockwise)" or "elevator (lift)", without any problem, thanks in part to considerable exposure to American popular culture and literature.

Other examples:

  • In the UK the word whilst is commonly used as a conjunction (as an alternative to while, especially prevalent in some dialects). In AmE while is more commonly used in both contexts.[11] Other conjunctions with the -st ending are also found even in AmE as much as in BrE, despite being old-fashioned or an affection. Whilst tends to appear in non-temporal senses, as when used to point out a contrast.
  • In the UK generally the term fall meaning "autumn" is obsolete. Although found often from Elizabethan literature to Victorian literature, continued understanding of the word is usually ascribed to its continued use in America.[12]
  • In the UK the term period for a full stop is not used; in AmE the term full stop is rarely, if ever, used for the punctuation mark. For example, Tony Blair said, "Terrorism is wrong, full stop", whereas in AmE, "Terrorism is wrong, period."[13] The use of the interjection: period to mean "and nothing else; end of discussion" is beginning to be used in colloquial British English, though sometimes without conscious reference to punctuation.

It is increasingly common for Americans to say "Happy holidays", referring to all, or at least multiple, winter (in the Northern hemisphere) or summer (in the Southern hemisphere) holidays (Christmas, Hanukkah, Winter solstice, Kwanzaa, etc.) especially when one's religious observances are not known; the phrase is rarely heard in the UK. In the UK, the phrases "holiday season" and "holiday period" refer to the period in the summer when most people take time off from work, and travel; AmE does not use holiday in this sense, instead using vacation

In AmE, the prevalent Christmas greeting is "Merry Christmas", which is the traditional English Christmas greeting, famously found in the English Christmas carol "We Wish You a Merry Christmas", and which appears several times in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.[14] In BrE, "Happy Christmas" is a common alternative to "Merry Christmas".

Generally in English numbers over one hundred have the word "and" inserted before the last two digits.

Likewise, in the USA, the word "on" is left out when referring to weekdays.

Both BrE and AmE use the expression "I couldn't care less" to mean the speaker does not care at all.

In both areas, saying, "I don't mind" often means, "I'm not annoyed" (for example, by someone's smoking), while "I don't care" often means, "The matter is trivial or boring".

A number of English idioms that have essentially the same meaning show lexical differences between the British and the American version; for instance:

In the US, a "carpet" typically refers to a fitted carpet, rather than a rug.

Lexical items that reflect separate social and cultural development.

The US has a more uniform nationwide system of terms than does the U.K., but the division by grades varies somewhat among the states and even among local school districts.

In the UK the US equivalent of a high school is often referred to as a "secondary school" regardless of whether it is state funded or private. Secondary education in the United States also includes middle school or junior high school, a two- or three-year transitional school between elementary school and high school. "Middle school" is sometimes used in the UK as a synonym for the younger junior school, covering the second half of the primary curriculum—current years four to six in some areas. However, in Dorset (South England) it is used to describe the second school in the three-tier system, which is normally from year five to year eight. In other regions, such as Evesham and the surrounding area in Worcestershire, the second tier goes from year six to year eight, and both starting secondary school in year nine. In Kirklees, West Yorkshire in the villages of the Dearne Valley there is a three tier system: first schools year reception to year five, middle school (Scissett/Kirkburton Middle School) year six to year eight and high school ([23])year 9 to year 13.

A public school has opposite meanings in the two countries. In AmE this is a government-owned institution open to all students, supported by public funding. The BrE use of the term is in the context of "private" education, i.e., to be educated privately with a tutor.[24] In England and Wales the term strictly refers to an ill-defined group of prestigious private independent schools funded by students' fees, although it is often more loosely used to refer to any independent school. Independent schools are also known as "private schools", and the latter is the term used in Scotland and Northern Ireland for all such fee-funded schools. Strictly, the term public school is not used in Scotland and Northern Ireland in the same sense as in England, but nevertheless Gordonstoun, the Scottish private school, is sometimes referred to as a public school, as are some other Scottish private schools. Government-funded schools in Scotland and Northern Ireland are properly referred to as "state schools"—but are sometimes confusingly referred to as "public schools" (with the same meaning as in the US); whereas in the US, where most public schools are administered by local governments, a state school is typically a college or university run by one of the states.

Speakers in both the United States and the United Kingdom use several additional terms for specific types of secondary school.

In the US, a magnet school receives government funding and has special admission requirements: in some cases pupils gain admission through superior performance on admission tests, while other magnet schools admit students through a lottery. The UK has city academies, which are independent privately sponsored schools run with public funding and which can select up to 10% of pupils by aptitude. Moreover in the UK 36 local education authorities retain selection by ability at 11. They maintain grammar schools (state funded secondary schools), which admit pupils according to performance in an examination (known as the 11+) and comprehensive schools that take pupils of all abilities. Grammar schools select the most academically able 10% to 23% of those who sit the exam. Students who fail the exam go to a secondary modern school, sometimes called a "high school", or increasingly an "academy". In areas where there are no grammar schools the comprehensives likewise may term themselves high schools or academies. Nationally only 6% of pupils attend grammar schools, mainly in four distinct counties. Some private schools are called "grammar schools", chiefly those that were grammar schools long before the advent of state education.

In the UK a university student is said to "study", to "read" or, informally, simply to "do" a subject.

BrE:

AmE:

At university level in BrE, each module is taught or facilitated by a lecturer or tutor; professor is the job-title of a senior academic (in AmE, at some universities, the equivalent of the BrE lecturer is instructor, especially when the teacher has a lesser degree or no university degree, though the usage may become confusing according to whether the subject being taught is considered technical or not; it is also different from adjunct instructor/professor). In AmE each class is generally taught by a professor (although some US tertiary educational institutions follow the BrE usage), while the position of lecturer is occasionally given to individuals hired on a temporary basis to teach one or more classes and who may or may not have a doctoral degree.

The word course in American use typically refers to the study of a restricted topic or individual subject (for example, "a course in Early Medieval England", "a course in integral calculus") over a limited period of time (such as a semester or term) and is equivalent to a module or sometimes unit at a British university. In the UK, a course of study or simply course is likely to refer to the entire programme of study, which may extend over several years and be made up of any number of modules, hence it is also practically synonymous to a degree programme. A few university-specific exceptions exist: for example, at Cambridge the word paper is used to refer to a module, while the whole course of study is called tripos.

A dissertation in AmE refers to the final written product of a doctoral student to fulfil the requirement of that program. In BrE, the same word refers to the final written product of a student in an undergraduate or taught master's programme. A dissertation in the AmE sense would be a thesis in BrE, though dissertation is also used.

Another source of confusion is the different usage of the word college. (See a full international discussion of the various meanings at college.) In the US this refers to a post-high school institution that grants either associate's or bachelor's degrees, while in the UK it refers to any post-secondary institution that is not a university (including sixth form college after the name in secondary education for years 12 and 13, the sixth form) where intermediary courses such as A levels or NVQs can be taken and GCSE courses can be retaken. College may sometimes be used in the UK or in Commonwealth countries as part of the name of a secondary or high school (for example, Dubai College). In the case of Oxford, Cambridge, Aberdeen, London, Lancaster, Durham, Kent and York universities, all members are also members of a college which is part of the university, for example, one is a member of King's College, Cambridge and hence the university.

In both the US and UK college can refer to some division within a university that comprises related academic departments such as the "college of business and economics" though in the UK "faculty" is more often used. Institutions in the US that offer two to four years of post-high school education often have the word college as part of their name, while those offering more advanced degrees are called a university. (There are exceptions: Boston College, Dartmouth College and the College of William & Mary are examples of colleges that offer advanced degrees, while Vincennes University is an unusual example of a "university" that offers only associate degrees in the vast majority of its academic programs.) American students who pursue a bachelor's degree (four years of higher education) or an associate degree (two years of higher education) are college students regardless of whether they attend a college or a university and refer to their educational institutions informally as colleges. A student who pursues a master's degree or a doctorate degree in the arts and sciences is in AmE a graduate student; in BrE a postgraduate student although graduate student is also sometimes used. Students of advanced professional programs are known by their field (business student, law student, medical student). Some universities also have a residential college system, the details of which may vary but generally involve common living and dining spaces as well as college-organized activities. Nonetheless, when it comes to the level of education, AmE generally uses the word college (e.g., going to college) whereas BrE generally uses the word university (e.g., going to university) regardless of the institution's official designation/status in both countries.

In the context of higher education, the word school is used slightly differently in BrE and AmE. In BrE, except for the University of London, the word school is used to refer to an academic department in a university. In AmE, the word school is used to refer to a collection of related academic departments and is headed by a dean. When referring to a division of a university, school is practically synonymous to a college.

"Professor" has different meanings in BrE and AmE.

"Tuition" has traditionally had separate meaning in each variation.

In both the US and the UK, a student takes an exam, but in BrE a student can also be said to sit an exam. When preparing for an exam students revise (BrE)/review (AmE) what they have studied; the BrE idiom to revise forhas the equivalent to review for in AmE.

Examinations are supervised by invigilators in the UK and proctors (or (exam) supervisors) in the US (a proctor in the UK is an official responsible for student discipline at the University of Oxford or Cambridge). In the UK a teacher sets an exam, while in the US, a teacher writes (prepares) and then gives (administers) an exam.

BrE:

AmE:

In BrE, students are awarded marks as credit for requirements (e.g., tests, projects) while in AmE, students are awarded points or "grades" for the same. Similarly, in BrE, a candidate's work is being marked, while in AmE it is said to be graded to determine what mark or grade is given.

There is additionally a difference between American and British usage in the word school. In British usage "school" by itself refers only to primary (elementary) and secondary (high) schools and to sixth forms attached to secondary schools—if one "goes to school", this type of institution is implied. By contrast an American student at a university may talk of "going to school" or "being in school". US and British law students and medical students commonly speak in terms of going to "law school" and "med[ical] school", respectively. However, the word is used in BrE in the context of higher education to describe a division grouping together several related subjects within a university, for example a "School of European Languages" containing departments for each language and also in the term "art school". It is also the name of some of the constituent colleges of the University of London, for example, School of Oriental and African Studies, London School of Economics.

Among high-school and college students in the United States, the words freshman (or the gender-neutral terms frosh or first year, sometimes freshie), sophomore, junior and senior refer to the first, second, third, and fourth years respectively. For first-year students, "frosh" and "freshie" are another gender-neutral terms that can be used as a qualifier, for example "Frosh class elections". It is important that the context of either high school or college first be established or else it must be stated directly (that is, She is a high school freshman. He is a college junior.). Many institutes in both countries also use the term first-year as a gender-neutral replacement for freshman, although in the US this is recent usage, formerly referring only to those in the first year as a graduate student. One exception is the University of Virginia; since its founding in 1819 the terms "first-year", "second-year", "third-year", and "fourth-year" have been used to describe undergraduate university students. At the United States service academies, at least those operated by the federal government directly, a different terminology is used, namely "fourth class", "third class", "second class" and "first class" (the order of numbering being the reverse of the number of years in attendance). In the UK first-year university students are sometimes called freshers early in the academic year; however, there are no specific names for those in other years nor for school pupils. Graduate and professional students in the United States are known by their year of study, such as a "second-year medical student" or a "fifth-year doctoral candidate." Law students are often referred to as "1L", "2L", or "3L" rather than "nth-year law students"; similarly, medical students are frequently referred to as "M1", "M2", "M3", or "M4".

While anyone in the US who finishes studying at any educational institution by passing relevant examinations is said to graduate and to be a graduate, in the UK only degree and above level students can graduate. Student itself has a wider meaning in AmE, meaning any person of any age studying at any educational institution or level, whereas in BrE it tends to be used for people studying at a post-secondary educational institution and the term pupil is more widely used for a young person at primary or secondary school, though the use of "student" for secondary school pupils in the UK is increasingly used, particularly for "sixth form" (years 12 and 13).

The names of individual institutions can be confusing.

When it comes to the admissions process, applicants are usually asked to solicit letters of reference or reference forms from referees in BrE. In AmE, these are called letters of recommendation or recommendation forms. Consequently, the writers of these letters are known as referees and recommenders, respectively.

In the context of education, for AmE, the word staff mainly refers to school personnel who are neither administrators nor have teaching loads or academic responsibilities; personnel who have academic responsibilities are referred to as members of their institution's faculty. In BrE, the word staff refers to both academic and non-academic school personnel. As mentioned previously, the term faculty in BrE refers more to a collection of related academic departments.

In the UK, political candidates stand for election, while in the US, they run for office. There is virtually no crossover between BrE and AmE in the use of these terms. Also, the document which contains a party's positions/principles is referred to as a party platform in AmE, whereas it is in BrE commonly known as a party manifesto. The term general election is used slightly differently in British and American English. In BrE, it refers exclusively to a nationwide parliamentary election and is differentiated from local elections (mayoral and council), EU Parliamentary Elections and by-elections; whereas in AmE, it refers to an election for any government position in the US, in AmE the term is differentiated from the term primary (an election that determines a party's candidate for the position in question).

In AmE, the term swing state, swing county, swing district is used to denote a jurisdiction/constituency where results are expected to be close but crucial to the overall outcome of the general election. In BrE, the term marginal constituency is more often used for the same and swing is more commonly used to refer to how much one party has gained (or lost) an advantage over another compared to the previous election.

In the UK, the term government only refers to what is commonly known in America as the executive branch

In financial statements, what is referred to in AmE as revenue or sales is known in BrE as turnover.

A bankrupt firm goes into administration in BrE; in AmE it goes bankrupt, or files for Chapter 7 (liquidation) or Chapter 11 (reorganization). An insolvent individual or partnership goes bankrupt in both jurisdictions.

If a finance company takes possession of a mortgaged property from a debtor, it is called foreclosure in AmE and repossession in BrE. In some, limited scenarios, repossession may be used in AmE, but it is much less common compared to foreclosure. One common exception in AmE is for automobiles, which are always said to be repossessed. Indeed, an agent who collects these cars for the bank is colloquially known in AmE as a Repoman.

In BrE, the term curriculum vitae (commonly abbreviated to CV) is used to describe the document prepared by applicants containing their credentials required for a job. In AmE, the term résumé is more commonly used, with CV primarily used in academic or research contexts, and is usually more comprehensive than the résumé.

Americans refer to transportation and British people to transport.[25] (Transportation in the UK has traditionally meant the punishment of criminals by deporting them to an overseas penal colony.) In AmE, the word transport is mainly used only as a verb, seldom as a noun or adjective except in reference to certain specialized objects, such as a tape transport or a military transport (e.g., a troop transport, a kind of vehicle, not an act of transporting).

Differences in terminology are especially obvious in the context of roads. The British term dual carriageway, in American parlance, would be divided highway or perhaps, simply highway. The central reservation on a motorway or dual carriageway in the UK would be the median or center divide on a freeway, expressway, highway or parkway in the US. The one-way lanes that make it possible to enter and leave such roads at an intermediate point without disrupting the flow of traffic are known as slip roads in the UK but in the US, they are typically known as ramps and both further distinguish between on-ramps or on-slips (for entering onto a highway/carriageway) and off-ramps or exit-slips (for leaving a highway/carriageway). When American engineers speak of slip roads, they are referring to a street that runs alongside the main road (separated by a berm) to allow off-the-highway access to the premises that are there; however, the term, frontage road is more commonly used, this term is the equivalent of service road in the UK. However, it is not uncommon for an American to use service road as well, in the stead of frontage road.

In the UK, the term outside lane refers to the higher-speed overtaking lane (passing lane in the US) closest to the centre of the road, while inside lane refers to the lane closer to the edge of the road. In the US outside lane is used only in the context of a turn, in which case it depends in which direction the road is turning (i.e., if the road bends right the left lane is the "outside lane" but if the road bends left it is the right lane). Both also refer to slow and fast lanes (even though all actual traffic speeds may be at or around the legal speed limit).

In the UK drink driving is against the law, while in the US, where the action is also outlawed, the term is drunk driving. The legal term in the US is driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (of alcohol) (DUI). The equivalent legal phrase in the UK is drunk in charge of a motor vehicle (DIC) or more commonly driving with excess alcohol.[26]

In the UK, a hire car is the US equivalent of a rental car. The term "hired car" can be especially misleading for those in the US, where the term "hire" is generally only applied to people and the term "rent" is applied to goods. To an American, a "hired car" would therefore imply a driver is being hired with the car, such as a taxi, limousine, Uber driver, etc.

In the UK, a saloon is a vehicle that is equivalent to the American sedan. This is particularly confusing to Americans, because in the US the term saloon is used in only one context: describing an old bar (UK pub) in the American West (a Western saloon). Coupé

In the UK, a silencer is the equivalent to the US muffler. In the US, the word silencer has only one meaning: an attachment on the barrel of a gun designed to stop the distinctive crack of a gunshot.

Specific auto parts and transport terms have different names in the two dialects, for example:

There are also differences in terminology in the context of rail transport. The best known is railway in the UK and railroad in America, but there are several others. A railway station in the UK is a railroad station or train station in the US; trains have drivers (often called engine drivers) in the UK, while in America trains are driven by engineers; trains have guards in the UK and conductors in the US; a place where two tracks meet is called a set of points in the UK and a switch in the US; and a place where a road crosses a railway line at ground level is called a level crossing in the UK and a grade crossing in America. In the UK, the term sleeper is used for the devices that bear the weight of the rails and are known as ties or crossties in the United States. The British term platform in the sense "The train is at Platform 1" would be known in the US by the term track, and used in the phrase "The train is on Track 1". Also, the British term Brake Van or Guard's Van, is a Caboose in the US. Finally the American English phrase "All aboard!" when getting on a train is rarely used in the UK; the nearest British equivalent is "Take your seats!", and when the train reaches its final stop, in the UK the phrase used by announcers is "All change!" while in America it is "All out!"

Traditionally, a show on British television would have referred to a light-entertainment program (BrE programme) with one or more performers and a participative audience, whereas in American television, the term is used for any type of program. British English traditionally referred to other types of program by their type, such as drama, serial etc., but the term show has now taken on the American meaning. In American television the episodes of a program first broadcast in a particular year constitute a season, while the entire run of the program—which may span several seasons—is called a series. In British television, on the other hand, the word series may apply to the episodes of a program in one particular year, for example, "The 1998 series of Grange Hill", as well as to the entire run. However, the entire run may occasionally be referred to as a "show". The term telecast, meaning television broadcast, is not used in British English. A television program would be broadcast, aired or shown in the UK.

A long-distance call is a "trunk call" in British English, but is a "toll call" in American English. The distinction is a result of historical differences in the way local service was billed; the Bell System traditionally flat-rated local calls in all but a few markets, subsidising local service by charging higher rates, or tolls, for intercity calls, allowing local calls to appear to be free. British Telecom (and the British Post Office before it) charged for all calls, local and long distance, so labelling one class of call as "toll" would have been meaningless.

Similarly, a toll-free number in America is a freephone number in the UK. The term "freefone" is a BT trademark.

Style


Generally, a non-restrictive relative clause (also called non-defining or supplementary) is one that contains information that is supplementary, i.e. does not change the meaning of the rest of the sentence, while a restrictive relative clause (also called defining or integrated) is, one which contains information essential to the meaning of the sentence, effectively limiting the modified noun phrase to a subset that is defined by the relative clause.[34] An example of a restrictive clause is "The dog that bit the man was brown."

H. W. Fowler, in A Dictionary of Modern English Usage of 1926 followed others in suggesting that it would be preferable to use which as the non-restrictive (what he calls non-defining) pronoun and that as the restrictive (what he calls defining) pronoun, but he also stated that this rule was observed neither by most writers nor by the best writers.[37]A%20Dic]] He implied that his suggested usage was more common in American English.[38]thatmeans, for instance, that which cannot be replaced by that when it immediately follows a preposition (e.g. "the basic unit from which matter is constructed")[37]A%20Dic]] – though this would not prevent a stranded preposition (e.g. "the basic unit matter is constructed ").[40]

Style guides by American prescriptivists, such as Bryan Garner, typically insist, for stylistic reasons, that that be used for restrictive relative clauses and which be used for non-restrictive clauses, referring to the use of which in restrictive clauses as a "mistake".[34]Garner's%20Modern%20English%20]] According to the 2015 edition of Fowler's Dictionary of Modern English Usage whichd in restrictive clauses, and that fact is then interpreted as the absolute rule that only that may introduce a restrictive clause", whereas in BrE "either that or which may be used in restrictive clauses", but many British people "believe that that is obligatory".[41]

Writing


Before the early 18th century English spelling was not standardized. Different standards became noticeable after the publishing of influential dictionaries. For the most part current BrE spellings follow those of Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language (1755), while AmE spellings follow those of Noah Webster's An American Dictionary of the English Language (1828). In the United Kingdom, the influences of those who preferred the French spellings of certain words proved decisive. In many cases AmE spelling deviated from mainstream British spelling; on the other hand it has also often retained older forms. Many of the now characteristic AmE spellings were popularized, although often not created, by Noah Webster. Webster chose already-existing alternative spellings "on such grounds as simplicity, analogy or etymology".[42] Webster did attempt to introduce some reformed spellings, as did the Simplified Spelling Board in the early 20th century, but most were not adopted. Later spelling changes in the UK had little effect on present-day US spelling, and vice versa.

There have been some trends of transatlantic difference in use of periods in some abbreviations.

In British English, "( )" marks are often referred to as brackets, whereas "[ ]" are called square brackets and "{ }" are called curly brackets.

British and American English differ in the preferred quotation mark style, including the placement of commas and periods.

American newspapers commonly use a comma as a shorthand for "and" in headlines.

Numerical expressions


There are many differences in the writing and speaking of English numerals, most of which are matters of style, with the notable exception of different definitions for billion.

The two countries have different conventions for floor numbering. The UK uses a mixture of the metric system and Imperial units, where in the US, United States customary units are dominant in everyday life with a few fields using the metric system.

Monetary amounts in the range of one to two major currency units are often spoken differently.

It is more common to hear a British-English speaker say one thousand two hundred dollars than a thousand and two hundred dollars, although the latter construct is common in AmE. In British English, the "and" comes after the hundreds (one thousand, two hundred and thirty dollars). The term twelve hundred dollars, popular in AmE, is frequently used in BrE but only for exact multiples of 100 up to 1900. Speakers of BrE very rarely hear amounts over 1900 expressed in hundreds, for example twenty-three hundred.

In BrE, particularly in television or radio advertisements, integers can be pronounced individually in the expression of amounts.

In spoken BrE the word pound is sometimes colloquially used for the plural as well. For example three pound forty and twenty pound a week are both heard in British English. Some other currencies do not change in the plural; yen and rand being examples. This is in addition to normal adjectival use, as in a twenty-pound-a-week pay-rise. The euro most often takes a regular plural -s in practice despite the EU dictum that it should remain invariable in formal contexts; the invariable usage is more common in Ireland, where it is the official currency.

In BrE the use of p instead of pence is common in spoken usage. Each of the following has equal legitimacy: 3 pounds 12 p; 3 pounds and 12 p; 3 pounds 12 pence; 3 pounds and 12 pence; as well as just 8 p or 8 pence. In everyday usage the amount is simply read as figures (£3.50 = three pounds fifty) as in AmE.

AmE uses words such as nickel, dime, and quarter for small coins. In BrE the usual usage is a 10-pence piece or a 10p piece or simply a 10p, for any coin below £1, but pound coin and two-pound coin. BrE did have specific words for a number of coins before decimalisation. Formal coin names such as half crown (2/6) and florin (2/-), as well as slang or familiar names such as bob (1/-) and tanner (6d) for pre-decimalization coins are still familiar to older BrE speakers but they are not used for modern coins. In older terms like two-bob bit (2/-) and thrupenny bit (3d), the word bit had common usage before decimalisation similar to that of piece today.

In order to make explicit the amount in words on a check (BrE cheque), Americans write three and 24⁄100 (using this solidus construction or with a horizontal division line): they do not need to write the word dollars as it is usually already printed on the check. On a cheque UK residents would write three pounds and 24 pence, three pounds ‒ 24, or three pounds ‒ 24p since the currency unit is not preprinted. To make unauthorized amendment difficult, it is useful to have an expression terminator even when a whole number of dollars/pounds is in use: thus, Americans would write three and 00⁄100 or three and no⁄100 on a three-dollar check (so that it cannot easily be changed to, for example, three million), and UK residents would write three pounds only.[46]

Dates are usually written differently in the short (numerical) form.

When using the name of the month rather than the number to write a date in the UK, the recent standard style is for the day to precede the month, e. g., 21 April.

Phrases such as the following are common in the UK but are generally unknown in the US: "A week today", "a week tomorrow", "a week Tuesday" and "Tuesday week"; these all refer to a day more than a week in the future.

The 24-hour clock (18:00, 18.00 or 1800) is considered normal in the UK and Europe in many applications including air, rail and bus timetables; it is largely unused in the US outside military, police, aviation and medical applications. British English tends to use the full stop or period (.) when telling time, compared to American English which uses colons (:) (i.e., 11:15 PM or 23:15 for AmE and 11.15 pm or 23.15 for BrE).[47] Usually in the military (and sometimes in the police, aviation and medical) applications on both sides of the Atlantic 0800 and 1800 are read as (oh/zero) eight hundred and eighteen hundred hours respectively.

Fifteen minutes after the hour is called quarter past in British usage and a quarter after or, less commonly, a quarter past in American usage. Fifteen minutes before the hour is usually called quarter to in British usage and a quarter of, a quarter to or a quarter 'til in American usage; the form a quarter to is associated with parts of the Northern United States, while a quarter 'til is found chiefly in the Appalachian region. Thirty minutes after the hour is commonly called half past in both BrE and AmE; half after used to be more common in the US. In informal British speech, the preposition is sometimes omitted, so that 5:30 may be referred to as half five. The AmE formations top of the hour and bottom of the hour are not used in BrE. Forms such as eleven forty are common in both dialects. To be simple and direct in telling time, no terms relating to fifteen or thirty minutes before/after the hour are used; rather the time is told exactly as for example nine fifteen, ten forty-five.

Demographics


Linguist Braj Kachru, quoted by the Christian Science Monitor in 1996, stated that "American English is spreading faster than British English". The Monitor* stated that English taught in Europe, India, and parts of Asia and Africa is more British-influenced, while English taught in Latin America, Japan, Mainland China, Taiwan and South Korea is more American-influenced; however, most English use outside the classroom is more influenced by the United States: Americans greatly outnumber Britons; in addition, as of 1993, the United States originated 75 percent of the world's TV programming.[48] A BBC columnist assessed in 2015 that "American English is the current dominant force globally, like it or not".[49]

See also


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