What Are The Differences Between British Vs American English
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There is a saying that says America and Britain are two nations divided by a common language. And while it seems silly, it is largely true. Though both countries speak English, there are quite a few differences between British vs American English – and it’s not just limited to accent and pronunciation.
Of course these are not the only two countries who speak English and we could talk for days about the differences between world Englishes, but UK and US English are undoubtedly the most widely spoken, so we’re going to focus on those two.
Accent and pronunciation are the two most obvious differences between British and American English but in fact there are a large number of differences between the two besides these. British and American English differ in terms of vocabulary, spelling, grammar, punctuation and numbers.
British vs American English: Vocabulary
This is the most commonly identified difference between the two Englishes. There are numerous words which mean different things in the different countries and different words for the same thing. For example:
British vs American English: Grammar
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
British vs American English: Spelling
American spelling has dropped the –u from certain words – for example, color, honor.
American English uses –ize while British English uses –ise.
Words in American English end in –er but –re in British English – for example center versus centre.
American English simplifies words more than British English – for example program versus program, and fetus versus foetus.
British vs American English: Dates
What is possibly the most confusing convention of all is that of dates. Americans shorten dates using the practice of month-date-year while Brits use date-month-year – for example, 3 May 2018 would be 5/3/2018 in the US but 3/5/2018 in the UK. This can cause not only confusion but also miscommunication.
How does this affect our learners?
As you can see, the majority of these differences are not going to cause major problems for your learners and their comprehension. However, they need to be made aware of these differences, especially those of vocabulary, so that they are not confused if they come across any discrepancies. Problems may arise, however, as a result of different accents and pronunciation, though, so make sure you deal with this during your lessons as well.
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.
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.
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LAST UPDATED: 19th July 2023
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- You have objected to the processing (see below), and we need to decide whether the legitimate grounds we have to process the information override your legitimate interests.
Processing you think is unlawful
- If you tell us that you think we are processing your personal information unlawfully, but you do not want the information to be erased, you have the right to require us to restrict the processing of that information.
- We will ask you for an explanation about why you think the processing is unlawful, and may also ask that you provide evidence to support this view.
Processing of personal information you think is inaccurate
- You can tell us if you think the personal information we are processing about you is factually inaccurate. You can require us to restrict how we use your personal information until we can verify the accuracy of the information. We will ask you for an explanation about why you think the information is inaccurate, and may also ask that you provide some supporting evidence of the alleged inaccuracy.
- If we find that the personal information we are processing about you is inaccurate, we will take appropriate steps to correct the information.
Personal information is no longer needed by ELEARNING FUTURES LTD but needed by you in connection with a legal claim
- In most circumstances, we will securely delete or dispose of personal information when we no longer need it for our legitimate business purposes. Our approach to retention is outlined in our corporate retention schedules.
- However, if the personal information we no longer need would assist you in establishing, exercising or defending a legal claim, you can require us to keep the information for as long as necessary. We may ask you to provide an explanation and any available supporting evidence that a legal claim is ongoing or contemplated.
Right to erasure of personal data (“the right to be forgotten”)
In the following circumstances, you have the right to require that ELEARNING FUTURES LTD securely deletes or destroys your personal information:
- If the personal information we hold about you is no longer necessary for the purposes for which we originally collected it.
- The processing is based on consent – if you have previously given your consent to ELEARNING FUTURES LTD collecting and processing your personal information, and you notify us that you withdraw your consent. Please note: withdrawing your consent does not mean the processing of your personal data which occurred before the withdrawal was unlawful.
- We are processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes, and you want us to stop.
- If you think ELEARNING FUTURES LTD has processed your personal information unlawfully.
If you think any of the above situations apply, we may ask you for an explanation and further information to verify this.
Right to object to processing
You have the right to object to the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD processing your personal data in the following circumstances:
Personal information used for direct marketing
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 ELEARNING FUTURES LTD has made a solely automated decision about you, you can object.
- Please note, ELEARNING FUTURES 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 ELEARNING FUTURES 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 ELEARNING FUTURES 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
ELEARNING FUTURES LTD,
21-22 Old Steine,
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.