I am fully expecting a tirade of commentary for this post and I would just like to assure my American friends now that this is nothing personal and I’m a really nice guy really. However since I started blogging and reading other people’s posts from around the world, I can’t help but notice….even more so, how the English language has been diluted and become a little lazy across the water. I won’t apologise for pointing some of these mistakes out, because I live in England, where the English language was originated……so I can.
My motivation for this post all began, when one of my American readers kindly pointed out to me that I had posted an article tagged with the word ‘humour’.
“I think you mean humor” , they said
” No.. I mean humour, that is the Oxford Dictionary spelling of the word, and that is what I meant” I replied.
“Oh ok…is that British -English? they asked.
“No!…. it is English, there is only one version, There is no such thing as American- English…there is English and there are mistakes” I confirmed.
It didn’t go down very well….I’m a tolerant guy, and ordinarily I would never point out the differences in how American people spell words versus how it should be spelled, but I do draw the line at being corrected into dropping vowels that have existed in the English language for hundreds of years.
So just to clear things up….before you have the bare-faced cheek to correct an Englishman on their own language….here are a few common words and grammatical errors that are used differently (correctly) in England:
For the purpose of clarification and explanation..I will refer to the ‘mistakes’ as ‘American English’, as much as it pains me to write…it will make it easier to understand and point out the differences.
|‘American English’ / Mistaken Spelling||English|
|color, humor, neighbor||colour, humour, neighbour|
|analyze, authorize||analyse, authorise|
Differences in the use of Prepositions
There are also a few differences between British and ‘American English’ in the use of prepositions. For example: While the British would play in a team, Americans would play on a team. Another example: While the British would go out at the weekend, Americans would go out on the weekend.
Most annoying Pronunciations
Moscow – This is pronounced Moss. Co, not Moss. Cow
Route (pronounced root, not rowt)
Vitamin (the ‘i’ as in little not as in bite)
Aluminium (Its A.luh.mi.nee.um and not A.looo.me.num)
Differences in Verb usage
Americans use the past tense dreamed while in English you would use dreamt in past tense. The same applies to “learned” and “learnt”. Another example of differing past tense spellings for verbs in American and British English is “forecast”. Americans use forecast while in English you would say forecasted in simple past tense.
Time telling in English vs American English
Both nations have a slightly different structure of telling the time. While in English you would say quarter past ten to denote 10:15, it is not uncommon in America to say quarter after or even a quarter after ten.
Thirty minutes after the hour is commonly called half past in both languages. Americans always write digital times with a colon, thus 6:00, whereas Britons often use a point, 6.00.
Differences in use of tenses
In 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 misplaced my pen. Can you help me find it?
In ‘American English’, the use of the past tense is also permissible: I misplaced my pen. Can you help me find it? In English, however, using the past tense in this example would be considered incorrect.
Other differences involving the use of the present perfect in British English and simple past in American English include the words already, just and yet.
English: I’ve just had food. Have you finished your homework ?
American English: I just had food. Have you finished your homework already?
English: I’ve already seen that film.
American English I already saw that film
The most annoying difference and the one that grates on me the most…as it seems to be migrating to the UK.
“Can I get a Cheeseburger please?”
Of course you can get a cheeseburger….but the correct way of asking for one is
“Please may I have a cheeseburger?”
Here is a non-exhaustive list of other differences – so please, before pointing out any mistakes… check the correct English terminology first….sorry (not sorry).
|English||American English/ Mistakes|
|articulated lorry||trailer truck|
|block of flats||apartment building|
|car park||parking lot|
|chemist’s shop||drugstore, pharmacy|
|chest of drawers||dresser, chest of drawers, bureau|
|chips||fries, French fries|
|the cinema||the movies|
|crossroads||intersection; crossroads (rural)|
|cupboard||cupboard (in kitchen); closet (for clothes etc)|
|driving licence||driver’s license|
|dual carriageway||divided highway|
|dummy (for baby)||pacifier|
|dustbin||garbage can, trash can|
|estate agent||real estate agent|
|estate car||station wagon|
|flat||apartment, flat, studio|
|flat tyre||flat tire|
|Girl Guide||Girl Scout|
|ground floor||ground/first floor|
|handbag||handbag, purse, shoulder bag|
|high street||main street|
|hood (car)||convertible top|
|lorry||truck, semi, tractor|
|motorway||highway, freeway, expressway, interstate highway, interstate|