Writing Styles In English - 10 Ways US English Is Different From UK English4 minute
Ever wondered why you pause every time you’re writing a paragraph and you come across words such as ‘analyze’ or ‘apologise’ to simply double check whether the right way to spell them is with an ‘S’ or a ‘Z’ but at the back of your head both sound oddly correct? Because honesty, Ditto! There are multiple differences between written and spoken English in the USA and UK that go unnoticed in a learning curriculum, but come back to haunt you while you chalk language down on paper.
Spellings aside, many words in both these countries have very different meanings and often tend to make one come across as half-witted or even rude when not addressed rightfully to the concerned audience. To highlight a few, ‘Pants’ in the US mean trousers whereas in the UK are used in place of the word underpants. So, when you address a British audience and want to compliment the colour of their ‘Pants’, make sure to choose your words wisely. Likewise, even some food terminologies such as ‘Chips’ and ‘Biscuits’ mean different things in both countries. Pringles would not so much mean chips as ‘crisps’ in the UK, where the word ‘chips’ is interpreted as what Americans would call French fries. And don’t you make the mistake of ordering a biscuit in the US assuming they’re cookies because you’d be more than just satiated with a whole bread roll that arrives instead. Since you know better now, the next time you hear ‘I’m going to set you up with my friend, he’s quite good!’ in the UK, you might want to rain check on that date because quite good is just not good enough.
More noteworthy or rather detectable differences in the English language in both these countries are in their respective vocabularies and accents. Distinct words are made use of to depict the same meanings. In the US for example, a legal advocate is a lawyer, whereas in the UK, he would be known as a solicitor. Similarly, ‘apartment’ in the US becomes ‘flat’ in the UK, ‘I think’ becomes ‘I reckon’, ‘TV’ becomes ‘telly’ and the most commonly known difference, ‘friend’ converts to ‘mate’. Differences in accents are a rather easier to recognise distinction and more so today, with movies and sitcoms shot in both accents made vastly popular and accessible. More often than not you’ll find the ‘R’ in words like ‘Car’ or ‘Father’ partially or completely faded during pronunciation making them sound like ‘Kha’ or ‘Fatha’ in British English whereas ‘R’ is almost always clearly pronounced in the US. Likewise, some words containing the alphabet ‘O’ sound different in the US than in the UK. You probably also face conjecture every time you try to spell words like meter(/metre), centre (/center) or theatre(/theater) debating for several minutes in your head if they end with an ‘er’ or an ‘re’. I wish I knew then that both are a one hundred percent correct! Most words that end with an ‘re’ in the UK end with an ‘er’ in the US. Similarly, several words that end with ‘nce’ in the UK such as licence, defence, offence, etc. end with ‘nse’ in the US and are spelt as license, defense, and offense respectively. Even as I write this article, I’m auto corrected time and again by a software that pursues the English language of a country that presumes French fries to be called chips. Then again would you rather pursue a country whose President ‘Trump’ translates to ‘Fart’ in the UK? Thought so.