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Thread: Difference of usage between British and American English

  1. #1
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    Arrow Difference of usage between British and American English



    Apart from differences in vocabulary, grammar and pronuciation, I have noted a few differences in usage between BrE and AmE. I found these comparing the BrE and AmE versions of a Grammar Book. usually both are correct in each varietu of English, but one is more usual in BrE, while the other is more common in AmE.

    BrE : I'll phone her
    AmE : I'll call her

    BrE : I feel a bit hungry
    AmE : I feel a little hungry

    BrE : We decided to go by car
    AmE : We decided to drive

    BrE : horrible
    AmE : awful

    BrE : cross the road
    AmE : cross the street

    BrE : look for somewhere else to stay
    AmE : look for another place to live

    BrE : I am going on holiday
    AmE : I am leaving on vacation

    BrE : When you have finished with it...
    AmE : When you are finished with it... (this is wrong in BrE)

    BrE : to advise someone
    AmE : to give someone advice

    BrE : When will you know your exam results ?
    AmE : When will you find out how you did on the exam ?

    BrE : this evening
    AmE : tonight

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    BrE : When you have finished with it...
    AmE : When you are finished with it... (this is wrong in BrE)
    just to add my own AmE to this, i'd say "done" rather than "finished"
    "When you're done with it..."

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    Some of your British examples are also used by Americans.

    The British use "have" a little differently than we Americans, such as....

    "I'm going to have a bite" OR "We had a laugh".

    And, I'd never heard "hire" used in this way until I talked to British and "Commonwealth" folks I met in Japan...

    "I'm going to hire a video." In American English we'd only use the word "rent". "Hire" is only used to talk about paying a person to do something.

    How about...
    BrE: "boot"
    AmE: "trunk"

    I used to have the British English vs. American English debate all the time while in Japan.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brooker
    Some of your British examples are also used by Americans.
    I know. These are just differences I noticed they took the pain to change from the BrE version of my grammar book to the AmE version (they also changed the names, so that Sue becomes Amanda, and George becomes Dave, or the like).

    The British use "have" a little differently than we Americans, such as....

    "I'm going to have a bite" OR "We had a laugh".
    Yes, and also in most cases when Americans say "take" : have a bath, have a walk, have a nap, etc.

    "I'm going to hire a video." In American English we'd only use the word "rent". "Hire" is only used to talk about paying a person to do something.
    I thing that "hire" is used more in phrases like "hire a car" or "hire a boat" in Britain. I'd say "rent a video".

    But these are more vocabulary differences (words only used in BrE or AmE), while those I cited are supposedly correct in both AmE and BrE, but more common in one variety of English (i.e. the dictionary is never going to mention that "to phone" is BrE and "to call" in AmE, although "to ring (up)" or "to buzz" are BrE, and "to call up" is AmE).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    (they also changed the names, so that Sue becomes Amanda, and George becomes Dave, or the like).
    Those all sound like American (or English) names to me. (Funny that Sue and Dave are my parents' names, and they're both American )

    I thing that "hire" is used more in phrases like "hire a car" or "hire a boat" in Britain. I'd say "rent a video".
    I've actually heard an Aussie say, "Hire a video". That's why I thought it was so strange.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brooker
    Those all sound like American (or English) names to me. (Funny that Sue and Dave are my parents' names, and they're both American )
    I think you are mising the point. All English names (including those of Latin, Greek or Hebrew origin) are used in all English-seapking countries. It's just that some names are more common in one country than in another, and sometimes the age associated with a name can be quite different depedning on the country. Btw, George was in the BrE book, while Dave was the AmE one, although many US presidents from George Washinton to George Bush were of course American. But I didn't make the book, just noticing that they changed the names when they could have kept them as they were.

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    I reckon it's the strength of English that it is so easily capable of absorbing new phrases and vocabulary. It's always changing and adapting - an essential trait in this fast-paced world of ours. No surprise then, when some phrases sometimes sound odd and others sound familiar.

    I lived in the States for 10 years (many years back) and even now, I find the odd Americanism creeping into my speech.

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    the american language is told much slower than the way of the anglish from europe.

    to say, something is not in the formal way as in america to the euroepeans.

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    hello everybody, I´m new on this board :)
    thank you for some differences between BE and AE. As a native german speaker it´s sometimes confusing for me. At school we learn BE but in everyday life you´ll be surrounded by the AE: films, tv-shows ect. Also most people who speak an excellent English over here tend to speak with an "American accent".

    here some more examples:

    he/she is pissed
    AE: he/she is angry
    BE: he/she is drunk

    a funny one that actually happend to a friend:

    wake-up call
    in BE short: a knock-up
    in AE: well, hum... a completely another meaning lol

    A happy belated Easter to all!

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    Something I noticed is that I purchased a novel while in England by a rather well known British author and I really enjoyed the book. Two years later I purchased a new book by the same author in America. It was actually a sequel to the first book. One thing I noticed was that the American edition seemed to be written in an American voice.
    What I mean by that is in the phraseology of the language. For instance, in the English edition, it might have said that one of the characters was at the pub having a drink with his mates. In a similar situation with the same characters it stated that the character went to the bar to have some drinks with his buddies.
    I seemed to find dozens of Americanisms in the novel that weren't in the British edition which changed the whole feel of the novel.
    I actually got a little angry when I realized that there were separate British and American editions of the same book, written supposedly in the same language.
    Since then I have purchased all books written by British authors from Amazon U.K. Sometimes they even change the titles of the books so that they don't offend American sensibilities. For example the novel "Blackman" written by Richard Morgan, was publish under the title "13" in the USA. Ridiculous! I have run across a couple other examples.
    I guess the editors of the American publishers feel that they have to edit the British writers so stupid Americans will read them.

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    Cool...in both versions:)

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