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DIFFERENCES BETWEEN AMERICAN AND BRITISH ENGLISH

GRAMMAR
Use of prepositions
In British English, at is used with many time expressions, e.g.: at Christmas/five 'o' clock, at
the weekend
In American English, on is always used when talking about the weekend, not at, e.g.: She'll
be coming home on weekends.
In British English, at is often used when talking about universities or other institutions,
e.g.: She studied chemistry at university.
In American English, in is often used, e.g.: She studied French in high school.
In British English, to and from are used with the adjective different, e.g.: This place is
different from/to anything I've seen before.
In American English from and than are used with different, e.g.: This place is different
from/than anything I've seen before.
In British English to is always used after the verb write, e.g.: I promised to write to her
every day.
In American English, to can be omitted after write, i.e.: I promised to write her every day.

In spoken American English it is very common to use the simple past tense as an alternative in
situations where the present perfect would usually have been used in British English. The two
situations where this is especially likely are:
1. In sentences which talk about an action in the past that has an effect in the present. For
example:
Jenny feels ill. She ate too much. (AmE)
Jenny feels ill. She's eaten too much. (BrE)

2. In sentences which contain the words already, just or yet:
A: Are they going to the show tonight?
B: No. They already saw it. (AmE)
A: Are they going to the show tonight?
B: No. They've already seen it. (BrE)

In American English collective nouns are always followed by a singular verb, so an American would
usually say: Which team is losing? Whereas in British English both plural and singular forms of the
verb are possible, as in: Which team is/are losing?

In British English, the auxiliary do is often used as a substitute for a verb when replying to a
question, e.g.:
A: Are you coming with us?
B: I might do.
In American English, do is not used in this way, e.g.:
A: Are you coming with us?
B: I might.

DIFFERENCES IN VOCABULARY
BRITISH ENGLISH AMERICAN ENGLISH
autumn autumn, fall
bill (restaurant) bill, check
biscuit cookie
block of flats apartment building
bonnet (clothing) hat
car park parking lot
chemist's shop drugstore, pharmacy
chips fries, French fries
the cinema the movies
crisps potato chips
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
dustman garbage collector
engine engine, motor
estate agent real estate agent
film film, movie
flat apartment, flat, studio
flat tyre flat tire
flyover overpass
ground floor ground/first floor
handbag handbag, purse, shoulder bag
high street main street
holiday vacation
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
nappy diaper
pants, underpants underpants, drawers
pavement sidewalk
petrol gas, gasoline
pocket money allowance
post mail
postbox mailbox
postcode zip code
postman mailman, mail carrier, letter carrier
pub bar
public toilet rest room, public bathroom
railway railroad
return (ticket) round-trip
road surface pavement, blacktop
roundabout traffic circle, roundabout
rubber eraser
rubbish garbage, trash
rubbish-bin garbage can, trashcan
shop shop, store
single (ticket) one-way
solicitor lawyer, attorney
sweets candy
taxi taxi, taxi cab
telly (informal), TV television, TV
timetable schedule
tin can
torch flashlight
trousers pants, trousers
tube (train) subway
underground (train) subway
vest undershirt
waistcoat vest
wallet wallet, billfold
wellington boots rubber boots, rain boots
whisky whisky/whiskey
windscreen windshield
zip zipper