Some differences between the American English variety and the British English variety

In British English the present perfect is used to express an action that has occurred in the recent past that has an effect on the present moment. For example:

I’ve lost my key. Can you help me look for it?
In American English the following is also possible:
I lost my key. Can you help me look for it?

In British English the above would be considered incorrect. However, both forms are generally accepted in standard American English. Other differences involving the use of the present perfect in British English and simple past in American English include already, just and yet.

British English:

I’ve just had lunch
I’ve already seen that film
Have you finished your homework yet?

American English:

I just had lunch OR I’ve just had lunch
I’ve already seen that film OR I already saw that film.
Have your finished your homework yet? OR Did you finish your homework yet?


There are two forms to express possession in English. Have or Have got

Do you have a car?
Have you got a car?
He hasn’t got any friends.
He doesn’t have any friends.
She has a beautiful new home.
She’s got a beautiful new home.

While both forms are correct (and accepted in both British and American English), have got (have you got, he hasn’t got, etc.) is generally the preferred form in British English while most speakers of American English employ the have (do you have, he doesn’t have etc.)


There are also a few differences in preposition use including the following:

* American English – on the weekend
British English – at the weekend

* American English – on a team
British English – in a team

* American English – please write me soon
British English – please write to me soon

Past Simple/Past Participles

The following verbs have two acceptable forms of the past simple/past participle in both American and British English, however, the irregular form is generally more common in British English (the first form of the two) and the regular form is more common to American English.

* Burn
Burnt OR burned

* Dream
dreamt OR dreamed

* Lean
leant OR leaned

* Learn
learnt OR learned

* Smell
smelt OR smelled

* Spell
spelt OR spelled

* Spill
spilt OR spilled

spoilt OR spoiled


Here are some general differences between British and American spellings:

Words ending in -or (American) -our (British) color, colour, humor, humour, flavor, flavour etc.
Words ending in -ize (American) -ise (British) recognize, recognise, patronize, patronise etc.

The best way to make sure that you are being consistent in your spelling is to use the spell check on your word processor (if you are using the computer of course) and choose which variety of English you would like. As you can see, there are really very few differences between standard British English and standard American English. However, the largest difference is probably that of the choice of vocabulary and pronunciation.

colour (warna)
cheque (cek)
autumn (musin gugur)
shop (toko)
far /fa/
new /nyu/
different from (berbeda dari)
have you got it? (apakah kau mempunyai itu?)
he has got much better at playing tennis.

color (warna)
check (cek)
fall (musim gugur)
store (toko)
far /fa:/
new /nu/
different than (berbeda dari)
do you have it? (apakah kau mempunyai itu?)
he has gotten much better at playing tennis.


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