Grammatical Differences between British and American English
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Differences between British and American English:
Lift vs elevator
Biscuit vs cookie
Sweets vs candy
When we think about the differences between British and American English, our first thought usually goes to vocabulary and accent. The differences between the two Englishes actually go much deeper than that.
Did you know British and American English use different grammar?
Well, they do. But while the differences in grammar usage don’t necessarily affect meaning we should be aware of these differences so we can make sure our students are aware of them.
The present perfect
American English uses the present perfect far less than British English. The past simple is more likely to be used in its place. This is usually in two situations.
- When talking about an action in the past that has an effect in the present
I can’t find my glasses. Have you seen them anywhere? (BrE)
Did you see them anywhere? (AmE)
- In sentences with just, already and yet
Have you read this book yet? (BrE)
Did you read this book yet? (AmE)
In British English collective nouns can be followed by either a singular or a plural verb. In American English they are always followed by a singular verb. So the sentence My team are winning is acceptable in British English but not American English.
Have and take
When have and take are used delexically, have is used more frequently in British English while take is more common in American English. This can be seen in phrases such as have/take a bath/shower, have/take a nap, have/take a decision.
British English and American English use different prepositions in different situations.
- At the weekend (BrE)
On the weekend (AmE)
- At school (BrE)
In school (AmE)
- Different from/to (BrE)
Different from/than (AmE)
Past tense verbs
There are a number of verbs which have different past simple and past participle forms, such as:
- dived vs dove
- got vs gotten
- spilt vs spilled
What does this mean for our teaching?
It depends where and who you are teaching. If you are teaching American English and you are a British English speaker, for example, you will probably be using British English materials. This means you will have to get comfortable with the materials before you teach from them so you can become aware of the differences. This applies to your vocabulary use and accent too. If you find you use a different word or grammatical structure of phoneme, draw your students’ attention to the difference and move on. It should not place any extra burden on your students.
While we’re on the topic, there is no better English between the two or, indeed, between any Englishes. You cannot denounce one as incorrect or bad because you do not speak it. Instead you need to highlight the differences between the different Englishes for your students so they can appreciate the diversity we have within our language.
If your students need English for a specific purpose – for example, they are going to study in Australia – then you must make sure your students are exposed to that variety of English so they are adequately prepared.
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LAST UPDATED: 27th August 2021
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If we are using your personal information to send you direct marketing, you have the right to object at any time. If you exercise this right, we will stop processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes. However, we may keep your information on a “suppression list” to ensure your information is not added to any marketing lists at some point in the future.
Automated decision making and profiling
- ‘Profiling’ is the automated use of personal data held on a computer to analyse or predict things that have a legal effect, or other similarly significant effects, on the individual. Examples would include economic situation, health, personal preferences or interests and location. You have the right not to be subject to a solely automated decision (that is, a decision made electronically, with no human intervention), and this may include profiling (although there is no general right to object to profiling). If you are concerned the Everything TEFL Ltd has made a solely automated decision about you, you can object.
- Please note, Everything TEFL Ltd is allowed to carry out automated decisions with no human intervention where you have given your explicit consent to this processing (although you have the right to withdraw your consent).
- We are also permitted to make automated decisions with no human intervention in the following circumstances:
- The automated decision is necessary to enter into, or perform a contract, or complete a contract involving you and the Everything TEFL Ltd.
- The automated decision is allowed under a law passed at the European Union level, or at the level of the European Union or EEA member state level (i.e., is allowed under national law). The law will provide safeguards to protect your rights and freedoms.
However, you still have a general right to object in both of the above circumstances, providing reasons why you think the processing is having a negative effect on you. If you do object, we will carefully consider your reasons, and decide whether to review the decision-making process in your specific case.
Right to data portability
- If you have provided your information to Everything TEFL Ltd, you have the right to request and receive a copy of that information in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format.
- You also have the right to ask us to send the information we hold about you to another organisation.
- There are some situations in which the right to data portability does not apply. For further information, please contact us.
Exercising your rights concerning the processing of your personal information
If you wish to exercise any of the above rights concerning the way in which we process your personal information, please contact:
Risk Management Team
Everything TEFL Ltd
28 – 32 Pembroke Street,
Republic of Ireland
Telephone: +353 (1) 554 6227
Email: [email protected]
Your right to complain to a national data protection regulator (data protection supervisory authority)
- If you think we have processed your personal information unfairly or unlawfully, or we have not complied with your rights under GDPR, you have the right to complain to a national data protection regulator.
- Complaints about how we process your personal information can be considered by the data protection regulator.