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  • Hello everyone.

  • Welcome to the Langfocus channel and my name is Paul.

  • Today we'll be answering the questionHow are British English and American English Different?”

  • - one of the most commonly asked questions by learners of English.

  • And hopefully native speakers of English will learn a thing or two from this video as well.

  • The truth is that both British and American English have numerous varieties, in other

  • words various accents and dialects, so in (the main part of) this video I will try to

  • focus on the most standard, non-regional variety of each one.

  • Disclaimer: I'm not American, I'm Canadian.

  • But I'm confident that we will someday be Americans after the invasion.

  • Standard Canadian English is very very close to General American English, so I will say

  • the American examples myself, unless there's some specific need to distinguish American pronunciation

  • from Canadian.

  • There are several ways in which Britain English and the American English different: vocabulary,

  • accent, spelling, and grammar.

  • Vocabulary

  • In the US, people generally saygarbashortrash”, while in the UK they generally

  • sayrubbish”.

  • Both literally and figuratively.

  • The game was rubbish!”

  • Americansgo on vacation”, while Britsgo on holidays”.

  • And this is also possible in American English.

  • In the US people rentapartments”, while in the UK they rentflats”.

  • In the US, if your apartment is at street level, then you live on the first floor, and

  • the person above you lives on the second floor.

  • In the UK, you live on the ground floor, and the person above you lives on the first floor.

  • If that person above you is unable or just too lazy to take the stairs, in the US they'd

  • take the elevator.

  • In the UK, they'd take the lift.

  • When you're bored at home, in the US you might turn on the TV, while in the UK you would

  • turn on the telly.

  • When you step outside of your building to go for a walk, in the US you might walk on

  • the sidewalk, while in the UK you walk on the pavement.

  • And if you're tired of walking, in the US you might take the subway.

  • In the UK, you take the underground.

  • In the US, it's perfectly to wear pants when you're riding the subway, but in the UK you'd

  • better wear some TROUSERS too because pants means underpants.

  • And specifically women's underpants are sometimes called knickers in the UK.

  • So when someone overreacts, in the US you might sayDon't get your panties in a bunch!”

  • In the UK you'd sayDon't get your knickers in a twist!”.

  • Paul how dare you be so crude.

  • Now I can't show this video to my 6 year old students!

  • Don't worry, they'll watch it on their phones during recess.

  • Going back to the wordpantsfor a moment, it can also be used in British English as

  • an adjective, meaning something iscrappyorit sucks”.

  • For exampleThat album is pants”.

  • In American English, you might sayThat album sucks”.

  • Accent

  • So I'll try to focus on General American English, and for the UK - Received Pronunciation.

  • These are the accents you're likely to hear on CNN and the BBC, respectively.

  • R-sounds

  • American English is rhotic, meaning that “r” sounds are always clearly pronounced.

  • British English is non-rhotic, meaning that the “r” sound is not pronounced unless

  • it is followed by a vowel sound.

  • Listen to the difference.

  • US: “My father's in the car”.

  • UK: “My father's in the car”.

  • Now let's focus on two words.

  • US: father UK: father.

  • US: car UK: car.

  • Notice that the final r sound is not pronounced in British English.

  • Fatherends in a simple schwa vowel /ˈfɑː.ðə/.

  • And incarthe a vowel sound is lengthened in place of the “r” sound.

  • /kɑː/

  • Now, the thing about British non-rhotic dialects that I find pretty wild is something called

  • the intrusive r.

  • That means that people sometimes add an r-sound to a word that doesn't actually have one,

  • if it's followed by a vowel in the next word.

  • For example, in the sentence “I saw a film”.

  • In British English it sometimes sounds like this: “I saw'r a film”.

  • So you can hear that there's an “r” sound connectingsawand “a”.

  • I once had British on-the-job trainer, and she saidHello my name is Paula and I'll

  • be your trainer today”.

  • I remember thinkingPauler?

  • What, you can't say your own name?”

  • But, it wasn't just her.

  • That was theintrusive r”.

  • T-sounds

  • In British English (and again, I must emphasize that I'm talking about the accent referred

  • to as Received Pronunciation), t sounds are pronounced as hard Ts, in other words voiceless

  • /t/ sounds.

  • In the US, they sometimes sound like /ɾ/ (an alveolar tap) instead of /t/ (an alveolar

  • stop).

  • This normally occurs in an unstressed syllable, between 2 vowel sounds, or between a vowel

  • and a rhotic sound (like an “r” sound).

  • So in the US people say butter.

  • [ˈbʌɾɚ].

  • And in the UK, they say butter.

  • /ˈbʌ.tə/.

  • In the US: Stop fighting! /stɑp ˈfʌɪɾɪŋ/.

  • In the UK: Stop fighting! /stɒp ˈfʌɪtɪŋ/.

  • You may have also noticed the “o” sound in the wordstopwas a little different,

  • which brings me to...

  • O sounds

  • In the wordstop”, the American “o” sound is an unrounded vowel /ɑ/ while the

  • British “o” sound is rounded /ɒ/.

  • Another example: US hot /hɑt/ UK: /hɒt/.

  • There is also the “o” diphthong in the wordknowUS /noʊ/ (US).

  • In the UK: /nəʊ/ . In the UK the sound is a schwa followed by /ʊ/ as input”.

  • US: show /ʃoʊ/ UK: show /ʃəʊ/

  • A sounds.

  • In other words, sounds represented by the letter “a”)

  • /ɑː/ in UK normally becomes an /æ/ sound in American English.

  • For example, in the UK: half /hɑːf/.

  • And in the US: half /hæf/.

  • Words that are /æ/ in UK remain pretty similar in US.

  • For example, in the UK: cat /kæt/.

  • And in the US: /kæt/.

  • An exception is a small set of words in which the “a” is followed byrr”, in which

  • case the vowel is pronounced as /e/.

  • In the UK: marry /ˈmæɹɪ/ . In the US: marry /ˈmɛɹi/.

  • Because of the difference, in the USmarryandMerrysound the same.

  • CarryandKerrysound the same.

  • Spelling: American and British spellings are largely the same, but there are a few notable

  • differences.

  • This is in large part because Noah Webster (whom the Webster dictionary is named after)

  • made an effort to reform English spelling in the 1700s, in order to make the words spelled

  • the way they sounded.

  • This resulted in some spelling changes in American English.

  • Most (but not all) words that end in ~re in the UK end in ~er in the US.

  • For example: centre/center, theatre/theater, metre/meter, sombre/somber.

  • Some words that end in ~nce in the UK are spelled with ~nse in the US.

  • licence/license.

  • Defence/defense, offence/offense.

  • Some words withouin the UK are spelled with “o” in the US.

  • Colour/color, favour/favor, honour/honor, labour/labor, etc.

  • The ending ~ise became ~ize in the US.

  • organise/organize.

  • apologise/apologize.

  • A similar change also occurs in other contexts where the “s” is voiced (in other words

  • it makes a /z/ sound).

  • Analyse/analyze.

  • Cosy/cozy.

  • There are verbs ending with “l” that take a doubled “l” in British English when

  • a suffix is added.

  • In American English there is no double “l”.

  • travelled/traveled, cancelled/canceled, marvellous / marvelous.

  • If you're wondering how the last one fits in with the others, remember thatmarvel

  • is a verb, and then an adjectival suffix is added to it).

  • Grammar: There are only very minor differences in grammar between British English and American

  • English.

  • Auxiliary verbs.

  • Brits useshallfor the future much more than Americans, as well as to ask for

  • advice or an opinion.

  • Some difference in preposition use:

  • In the US, people sayon the weekend”, but in the UK they sayat the weekend”.

  • And in the US, people saydifferent fromordifferent than”, but in the UK they

  • saydifferent fromordifferent to”.

  • There are some different past tense forms.

  • For example, in American English the past tense of the worldlearnislearned”,

  • while in British English it's more common to saylearnt”.

  • Actually, both forms are used in either country, but there is more of tendency towards one

  • form.

  • This is true for other words like dreamed vs. dreamt, burned vs. burnt, leaned vs. leant.

  • Another example.

  • In the US, the past tense of dive is usuallydove”.

  • In the UK it's “dived”.

  • Maybe the American form developed by analogy withdriveanddrove”.

  • Anyways, differences like these are not consistent, but you'll notice some different past tense

  • forms here and there.

  • Past participles: Sometimes past participles have a different form.

  • The most well-known example is for the verbget”.

  • In the US, there's get / got / gotten.

  • But in the UK, it's get / got / got/.

  • ** Both forms have existed since the Middle English period, butgottenhas fallen

  • out of use in the UK.

  • Gotcan be used in American English in the formhave got”, but with the meaning

  • ofhave”, nothas received/become”.

  • US: I haven't gotten the eviction notice yet.

  • UK: I haven't got the eviction notice yet.

  • SentencesAlright, let's check a couple of sentences and see what we find.

  • In the US: I think we need a lawyer.