British English Versus American English

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While English is the main language in both America and Great Britain, there are some distinctions between the English language used in both countries and regions. It is often said the two countries are separated by a common language because some of the same words are spelled differently in both nations, some objects have different names and all measurements are made under different systems.

Same words, different spellings

British and American English differ in several ways to end specific spellings of words. In American English for example, this spelling is preferred for words ending in “er:” center, meter. British spellings use “re” (cetre, metre). Likewise, words ending in “or” (favor, color) in American English are spelled with an “our” in British English (favour, colour). One exception of this spelling is glamor/glamour. Both are acceptable in American English, but only glamour is acceptable in the British version. These are just a few examples or word spellings; other differences include words such as organize/organise, traveled/travelled, defense/defence and more.

British English: The organisation’s goals were clear, concise and objective.

American English: The organization continued to grow under the guidance of its current CEO.

Objects with different names

Some objects in both countries have different names, even though they are exactly the same. Americans uses “pants” to refer to long-legged clothing to wear over your legs; whereas, the British refer to underwear as “pants.” This is just one example. Other objects that take different names include coriander/cilantro, pepper/capsicum and zucchini/courgette.

Measurements using different systems

The terms used to describe measurements are also different in the two forms of English. Whereas British English uses centimeters, kilometers and kilograms, the American version uses inches, miles and pounds.

British English: The recipe calls for approximately 6 ounces of melted chocolate.

American English: The recipe calls for approximately 170 grams of melted chocolate.