There is no such thing as American-English…there is English and there are mistakes

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
fulfill fulfil
center centre
analyze, authorize analyse, authorise
aging ageing
dialog dialogue
anesthesia, anaesthesia

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 alreadyjust 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
anti-clockwise counter-clockwise
articulated lorry trailer truck
autumn  fall
barrister attorney
bill (restaurant) check
biscuit cookie
block of flats apartment building
Bonnet (Clothing) Hat
bonnet (car) hood
boot trunk
caravan trailer
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
clothes peg clothespin
coffin casket
crisps potato chips
crossroads intersection; crossroads (rural)
cupboard cupboard (in kitchen); closet (for clothes etc)
diversion detour
drawing-pin thumbtack
drink-driving drunk driving
driving licence driver’s license
dual carriageway divided highway
dummy (for baby) pacifier
dustbin garbage can, trash can
dustman garbage collector
engine engine, motor
estate agent real estate agent
estate car station wagon
film film, movie
flat apartment, flat, studio
flat tyre flat tire
flyover overpass
gearbox (car) transmission
gear-lever gearshift
Girl Guide Girl Scout
ground floor ground/first floor
handbag handbag, purse, shoulder bag
high street main street
holiday vacation
hood (car) convertible top
jam jam, preserves
jug jug, pitcher
juggernaut 18-wheeler
lift elevator
lorry truck, semi, tractor
mad crazy, insane
main road highway
maize corn
maths math
motorbike motorcycle
motorway freeway, expressway
motorway highway, freeway, expressway, interstate highway, interstate

Sources:

www.diffen.com

www.englishclub.com

 

 

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54 thoughts on “There is no such thing as American-English…there is English and there are mistakes

  1. I’m with you on this one and I’m not even British! When we moved to Australia from Finland I spoke not a word of English – I was 7 years old 🙂 Given Australia was settled by the white man as a British penal colony the schools here teach the ‘proper’ Australianised Qneen’s English. But imagine my dilemma (and that of other non-English speaking migrants) for a moment if you will – Finnish is a phonetic language. English is not. It is very confusing to have the same word, spelled (spelt?) the same way, pronounced differently, with different meanings. Throw into the mix the contamination of language from the other colonies – aka America – and it gets even more confusing. And pronunciation is weird too – like ph is sounded as f. Some letters are sometimes not sounded at all. However, given I was young and impressionable, I learned the Queen’s English as best I could. But even now, many decades later, friends tell me I sometimes use weird words or mix metaphors or do other strange non-English things …. And of course the modern phenomena of social media has created a minefield for language perfectionists. One of my pet hates is text messages with words spelled in all sorts of weird combinations of letters, numbers, no grammar or connecting words or punctuation. But then, they do tell us that language is a living thing 🙂
    BTW I was top of the class for spelling and creative writing 🙂

    1. Don’t even get me started on ‘text speak’ that’s a whole new blog post 😂. As I say, I get that language is a living and evolving thing, but refuse to be corrected on it. English is a very complex language, especially if it’s not your first, but that is what I think makes it quite special.

      You by the way, seem to have done a fantastic job, because there is not a hint anywhere in your comment that would suggest you were not born here.

      I love that you refer to it as ‘The Queen’s English’ we are a dying breed, good to see someone that speaks it… (like what I do) 😂

  2. I (I’ve) just had a good chuckle reading this. All I known is the english spoken in America, so I am admitting my guilt. Some of these terms sound so strange to me.

  3. I am from across the water and have the worst grammar and spelling. I actually really enjoyed this post maybe I might learn something, however I make no promises.

  4. The may I/can I issue is a thing in America, too. Many a teacher has responded in the same way to a child who asked if they can go to the bathroom with, “I don’t know, can you?”

  5. You forgot “jumper” (which is really a type of dress) and “sweater.” An estate agent here would likely be someone settling the estate of a deceased person. Are you only allowed to buy houses of dead people? Creepy! You are very cute and I won’t holler (what’s the the British-English word for that?) about this post but I’m taking you out of the Will.

  6. I LOVE this. Mostly because I am obsessed with anything British. Who does not know that humor is spelled “humour” across the pond?? Also, the way things are pronounced in Britian are usually more grammatically correct that here. For instance, “vitamin”. Why that became a long ‘i’, I just don’t know!

    1. Ha Ha…glad you liked it…hope I’m forgiven….Im not a ‘USA-basher’….was just really not having someone correct my correct spelling. Mostly these things just make us laugh….especially when you say Moscow. I spent half a film once, trying to work out where Moscow was before I realised it was the capital of Russia….all because you say it ‘funny’.

  7. And this is how Donald Trump started out. Next you’ll be building walls and undoing years of good work lol. Funny post though 🙂

  8. Love this post! My personal hate is “Jewellery” spelt wrong – the US version is “jewelry”.

    Also, being English, I use the word “whilst” … although not wrong, I hate the American use of “while” instead! It just doesn’t sound right.

    I could wax lyrical about this subject for a fortnight (Americans never use that phrase, always 2 weeks!)

  9. I have to pitch in. I can’t help it! I have a good British friend and a good American friend. One thing that’s always annoyed me is that when it came up in a conversation that I was bilingual (English/French) they both replied the same thing: “oh, I’m bilingual too, I speak American English and British English”. I’ve always been corrected a number of times whilst writing humour/labour/colour… Bleh.

    Interestingly enough, Canadian English is a kind of hybrid between the two. It’s not really surprising though as we’re pretty much a result of British colonisation and American influence due to proximity.

  10. Hi,
    I’m sure you get this a lot, but I think your blog name is great. I know Linda Hobden.
    Thanks for coming by my site and liking my post about how to generate over 13,000 page views in a month to your blog. I wanted to come to inroduce myself and thank you.
    In response to what you wrote, it reminds me of Henry Higgins and Liza Doolitle– why can’t the British teach their children how to speak, or in this case, the Americans? Am I dating myself or do you know the reference?
    Janice

  11. Hi again,
    I meant to add that I read you’ve only been blogging for a few months. Congratulations on the engaged community you’ve built. I help new bloggers at my site, as you may have noticed.
    Janice

  12. Hey, My not-blogging email is actually called BroadwayMusicalFan. I know all the lyrics to all the songs, and I own the movie. You relate to Henry clearly. What about poor Eliza? Despite her best efforts she had trouble pleasing him. My parents danced to I’ve Grown Accustome to Her Face at their Wedding!
    Janice

    1. Oh a girl after my own heart! I love loads so f musicals but this one is pretty good. *breaks into song* ‘The rain in Spain 🇪🇸 stays mainly on the plane”….. I think she’s got it !

  13. Hi!
    I’m back! Do you mind if I ask how you found my article on how to generate over 13,000 page views to your site? I like to know what promotional methods work for me. Thanks in advance for answering my question.
    Janice

  14. I’ve been corrected on the way I write dates. Today is 13.8.17 not 8.13.17. I also had an online argument with an American about ‘football’ as the correct translation of the German ‘Fussball’. He accused me of translating the parts of the word rather than the word. I don’t think he ever understood that he was wrong. Good post.

  15. Love this. And yes, you’re right!

    Different ‘than’
    Couple, as in ‘a couple of hats’, with no ‘of’.
    ‘Who’s got the tomato ketchup? I do’
    Joolery ( not ‘jewellery’)
    Nucular (not nuclear)
    Deteriate (not deteriortate)
    I was obligated to go (not ‘obliged’)

    But then again, I love some stuff they say, that just doesn’t sound right when English people say it. Y’all. And English people just can’t talk about tearing the world a brand new asshole, convincingly.

  16. Whilst I am comfortable with both British-English and American-English, I wonder why it is that just because something came first, ie British-English, that means that it is best or the most correct? You blokes across the pond are so stuck in your ‘old ways’.

      1. But, just now in honor of or deference to my U.K. brethren such as yourself, I just left the word ‘leapt’ in the novel I am writing despite spellcheck suggesting that I change it.

  17. Also blame Microsoft for giving people the option of “what” English as a dropdown. I’m Canadian and we have struggled to keep the “u”. Also as Canadian I have had to explain what certain words means to Americans. My take is people have gotten lazy with their English. Always enjoy your posts. Thanks!

  18. A few of the other students on my uni course are from across the pond. We didn’t get into arguments about language/grammar but we did have many debates about what constitutes: cookies, biscuits, cream, puddings, desserts. If only we had been as focused on our studies!

  19. Oh Matt, this is a brilliant post! As a Canadian living in the US, I’m sure you can understand how I experience a lot of cognitive dissonance whenever someone here ‘corrects’ me for spelling (or saying) things ‘incorrectly’! I was asked, “Oh, is that Canadian English?” No, it’s just English the way it is supposed to be!! 😉 Cher xo

  20. hehehe u know my hackles would be raised here. While I can appreciate your loyalty to quaint “English” words, I prefer to think that we here in America have just made the next logical steps on the path to linguist perfection.

    But not to worry, this still means we’re bilingual 😉

  21. I have to say that I loved your post, and found it very interesting – however, I’m wondering how you are critiquing my comment at the moment. Ha! For many years I have been interested in grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc., and this has led me to a life of writing, editing, editing again, and again. As you can imagine, your post had me feeling a little self-conscious about my writing know-how, but I thoroughly enjoyed the lesson. For that, I thank you! Now, I’m going to go and re-read my comment before I submit. Thank you for colouring my day with a little humour. By the way, my spell-check is underlining the words “colouring” and “humour” in red. 😉

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