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  • Hello! I'm Emma from mmmEnglish!

  • My students are always asking me:

  • What's the difference

  • between British English and American English?

  • Which one's the best?

  • Which one should I learn?

  • It's really confusing!

  • In my last lesson I talked about which type of English

  • you should learn.

  • You can watch that right here if you missed it.

  • But in this lesson

  • we are going to look at the main differences

  • between standard British English

  • and standard American English.

  • While it's incorrect to say that one type of English

  • is better than the other

  • or that one is more correct than the other,

  • it is important to be aware of the differences

  • between British and American English.

  • And focus on the type of English that is most

  • relevant for you.

  • And that is what this lesson is all about.

  • The main areas that you'll notice differences between

  • British and American English are

  • accent, obviously, spelling, vocabulary

  • and some areas of grammar including use of

  • prepositions and use of collective nouns.

  • Now if you are studying for an English exam,

  • applying for or studying at an English University

  • or using English professionally for your job

  • then this lesson is especially important for you!

  • Usually in all of these situations,

  • you need to pay attention to spelling and grammar rules

  • because it can affect your score or even your reputation.

  • Okay so let's talk about some of these differences.

  • Starting with accent.

  • It's probably the most obvious difference.

  • But the difference is not as simple as British

  • and American accents, right?

  • Regional accents

  • in both of these countries can differ dramatically.

  • Someone from South London sounds very different

  • than someone from Scotland.

  • And both sound very different from the Queen of England.

  • And it's the same in America,

  • the accent can vary significantly

  • depending on where you are in the country.

  • That said, if we compare standard British English

  • and standard American English accents,

  • there are a few clear differences.

  • There are differences in the way

  • that vowels are pronounced.

  • Hot.

  • Hot.

  • Okay so we would say hot. Hot.

  • Ant.

  • We say ant.

  • Ant. Ant.

  • Leisure. Leisure. Leisure.

  • Leisure.

  • Americans tend to pronounce a flap T

  • when the letter T is between two vowel sounds.

  • Like in these words.

  • The flap T is a flatter sound

  • that actually sounds more like a D.

  • Water. Water.

  • Bottle. Bottle.

  • Little. Little.

  • Daughter. Daughter.

  • Hear that flap T sound?

  • Its also very common in my Australian accent as well.

  • Standard American English clearly pronounces

  • the R after a vowel sound

  • where most British English speakers don't.

  • So for example,

  • car, car.

  • Burger, burger.

  • And I just say burger.

  • Daughter, daughter.

  • You can hear some more of those examples

  • in this video right here.

  • Okay so accent is one difference.

  • But there are some more frustrating differences

  • that can actually get you into trouble, like spelling.

  • Americans spell English words differently

  • to the rest of us.

  • Some of you may actually think that the

  • American spelling is easier.

  • It was changed only a few hundred years ago

  • from the British way to a new American English way.

  • And the reason was to make words

  • look more phonetic.

  • So words are actually spelt more like they sound.

  • It makes a lot of sense right?

  • Words that end in -our in British English

  • so think about the words

  • colour, honour, neighbour.

  • They simply end in -or in American English.

  • In British English verbs that end in an L

  • after a short vowel sound

  • have a double L when -ed or -ing are added.

  • Travelled or modelling for example.

  • But in American English there is only one L.

  • Jewellery is another example of this

  • though even more changes were made to make jewellery

  • more phonetic.

  • Words ending in -ise in British English

  • end in -ize in American English.

  • Like realise, organise.

  • Words ending in -re in British English

  • end in -er in American English, most of the time.

  • Like in the word centre.

  • Words ending in -ence in British English

  • end in -ense in American English

  • like defence and license.

  • You'll also find some small differences with past forms

  • of regular verbs.

  • So the past tense of learn in American English is learned

  • but in British English learned or learnt is possible.

  • Though the -ed form is more common where I'm from.

  • Notice that the pronunciation is the same.

  • The same rule applies for dreamt and burnt.

  • As an extra hint make sure you're using a spellcheck tool

  • that is set to the type of English that you're learning,

  • so that it's correcting your spelling

  • with the right type of English.

  • Vocabulary.

  • The most frustrating difference between

  • British and American English is surely vocabulary

  • - even for native speakers!

  • There are hundreds of everyday words

  • that are just different.

  • And to make matters worse, Australian English

  • Canadian English, New Zealander English

  • South African English,

  • can also use different words for the same thing.

  • The difference is really obvious in nouns

  • especially food, where each type of English

  • has different nouns for the same thing.

  • So for example the herb coriander

  • is called cilantro in America, nothing alike!

  • And there are heaps of differences just like that.

  • I made a whole video about it right here.

  • These differences in vocabulary are something

  • that even native English speakers

  • have to try and understand too.

  • We don't always know exactly

  • what another English speaker is talking about

  • because we use different words for the same thing.

  • In those situations,

  • we usually try to use the context of the sentence

  • to understand what this new word is.

  • And if we still don't know, we just have to ask.

  • If you know what type of English you need,

  • then I highly recommend

  • finding a native English teacher

  • who can help you to learn and understand

  • the English vocabulary that is used in that place.

  • Cambly is a really great place for you to do that

  • because they've got native English teachers from

  • all English-speaking countries.

  • So if you're travelling to Canada,

  • you can find a Canadian teacher to help you.

  • If you're applying for a university in the United Kingdom,

  • then find a teacher who uses the accent, the vocabulary

  • and the spelling rules

  • that will get you really great results in your exams.

  • It will just make it so much easier for you

  • once you arrive.

  • And you can try a free 15-minute lesson with Cambly

  • by using the link in the description just below this video.

  • I've had a chat to a few different teachers there

  • and they've been super friendly and helpful

  • so I really recommend it!

  • Now, prepositions are confusing enough

  • without me telling you that sometimes

  • American and British English

  • use prepositions differently.

  • But don't worry.

  • Most of them are exactly the same

  • but there's just a few that you need to be aware of

  • because they're used differently.

  • "What are you doing on the weekend"

  • is common in American English

  • whereas "What are you doing at the weekend"

  • is more commonly used in the UK.

  • In Australia we mostly use 'on'.

  • When talking about a period in a week,

  • 'through' is really common in American English.

  • My brother works Monday through Friday

  • whereas 'to' is more common in British English

  • and also Australian English.

  • My brother works Monday to Friday.

  • These mean exactly the same thing.

  • The good news is that native English speakers

  • will understand you no matter what

  • whichever one you choose.

  • So it's not a major problem,

  • it's just something that you need to be aware of.

  • When describing something that has recently occurred

  • that affects the present moment,

  • I would use the present perfect, probably.

  • But my American friends would likely use

  • the past simple tense instead.

  • So let me explain with an example.

  • If I've just eaten a big meal and someone asked

  • if I wanted dessert,

  • I'd say "No thanks, I've eaten too much!"

  • But an American would probably choose

  • the past simple and simply say,

  • "No thanks, I ate too much!"

  • Someone speaking British English would probably

  • choose to use the present perfect tense in this situation

  • Collective nouns, which are nouns that refer

  • to a group of things.

  • Like a group of students is called a class

  • or a group of colleagues working on the same project

  • is a team.

  • Or a group of cows is called a herd.

  • A family, an audience, a crowd.

  • These are all examples of collective nouns.

  • And British English and American English

  • treat these nouns

  • differently in English sentences.

  • In American English, collective nouns are singular

  • so they're treated in the same way as other

  • singular nouns are.

  • The team has asked for more resources.

  • The band is really good!

  • The class is meeting at the library after lunch.

  • So even though there are many individuals

  • that make up the class, grammatically, they're treated

  • as a single thing, as one.

  • In British English, collective nouns can be singular

  • but they can also be plural nouns as well.

  • So someone using British English could say

  • either of these different options.

  • The class is meeting at the library after lunch.

  • So referring to the class as a whole.

  • Or the class are meeting at the library after lunch.

  • And that refers to

  • all of the individuals that are part of the class.

  • The difference is simply about whether the group

  • is being referred to as a whole, as a single unit,

  • or as a collection of individuals inside the group.

  • Then it's treated as plural.

  • The team has asked for more resources.

  • So that's the team as one unit.

  • The team have asked for more resources.

  • The team as a group of individuals

  • and the meaning is identical.

  • The band is really good.