Most people are well aware of some of the more obvious differences between British and American English. In British English, they prefer “have,” while in American English, they prefer “take.” For instance: BE: I’m going to have a nap. In American English, it’s shortened, but cutting off the “s” as well. towards, which is one of the most common mix-ups: BE: She walked towards the light. There are even a few differences in punctuation between British and American English.
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In addition to cutting out letters, sometimes Americans cut out entire words—at least when their sentences are compared to British sentences. One such word is the shortened form of mathematics, which is “maths” in British English and “math” in American English.
Then there are those words that are left with an “s” or not depending on which dialect you speak.
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This is by no means a comprehensive list of every grammatical quirk between the two versions of English, just a selection of differences that I thought were fun or interesting based on my experiences as an American living abroad where British English is the dominant language. There are a lot of differences in regular and irregular verbs in British and American English.
I think I should also point out that with British TV shows on American screens and vice versa, not to mention the interaction we’re able to enjoy on forums across the internet, it’s possible some British or American English has slipped into your vocabulary, so some differences are starting to disappear. Interestingly, when Americans do use “got,” the “have” and “do” forms are often mixed up between the question and answer, while in British English they are more consistent. That means that we tack on various endings on some verbs in one dialect that we don’t in others.
First, speakers of British and American English have different preposition preferences. Take this example from the BBC: BE: We’ve got a new car! A couple of the verbs that are irregular in British English are burn, learn, and smell. These little words are so small you might not have noticed the differences when talking to your British/American friends. Even when asking a question, the “do” form of “have” is much more common in American English, while British English typically uses “got” for specific situations: BE: Have you got a sister? Each example is grammatically correct, but one or the other might sound a little strange to you depending on where you’re from: British English: I will come home college. British English speakers will also use the word “got” more than American English speakers. In terms of past-time adverbs such as yet, just, or already, Brits usually use the present perfect verb tense and Americans use the past simple verb tense. Where Brits will say “have got,” Americans will typically say “have.” Like this: BE: I’ve got to go now. Again, both forms are correct, and you can get the same meaning across either way: BE: Have you phoned her yet? The use of the verbs “have” and “take” are also a little different. In this case, I’m talking about “can” and “could.” When using perception verbs like see, hear, and smell, British English often calls for “can” and “could,” while American English ignores them entirely, like this: BE: I could hear Jane talking in the other room. The reasoning for this one is that “mathematics” is plural, so the shortened “maths” in British English should be too.