Use of the Present Perfect
In British 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 lost my key. Can you help me look for it?
In American English the following is also possible:
I lost my key. Can you help me look for it?
In British English the above would be considered incorrect. However, both forms are generally accepted in standard American English. Other differences involving the use of the present perfect in British English and simple past in American English include already, just and yet.
I've just had lunch
I've already seen that film
Have you finished your homework yet?
I just had lunch OR I've just had lunch
I've already seen that film OR I already saw that film.
Have your finished your homework yet? OR Did you finish your homework yet?
There are two forms to express possession in English. Have or Have got
Do you have a car?
Have you got a car?
He hasn't got any friends.
He doesn't have any friends.
She has a beautiful new home.
She's got a beautiful new home.
While both forms are correct (and accepted in both British and American English), have got (have you got, he hasn't got, etc.) is generally the preferred form in British English while most speakers of American English employ the have (do you have, he doesn't have etc.)
The Verb Get
The past participle of the verb get is gotten in American English. Example He's gotten much better at playing tennis. British English - He's got much better at playing tennis.
Probably the major differences between British and American English lies in the choice of vocabulary. Some words mean different things in the two varieties for example:
Mean: (American English - angry, bad humored, British English - not generous, tight fisted)
Rubber: (American English - condom, British English - tool used to erase pencil markings)
There are many more examples (too many for me to list here). If there is a difference in usage, your dictionary will note the different meanings in its definition of the term. Many vocabulary items are also used in one form and not in the other. One of the best examples of this is the terminology used for automobiles.
|American English - hood||British English - bonnet|
|American English - trunk||British English - boot|
|American English - truck||British English - lorry|
Once again, your dictionary should list whether the term is used in British English or American English.
There are also a few differences in preposition use including the following:
|American English - on the weekend||British English - at the weekend|
|American English - on a team||British English - in a team|
|American English - please write me soon||British English - please write to me soon|
Past Simple/Past Participles
The following verbs have two acceptable forms of the past simple/past participle in both American and British English, however, the irregular form is generally more common in British English (the first form of the two) and the regular form is more common to American English.
|Burn||Burnt OR burned|
|Dream||dreamt OR dreamed|
|Lean||leant OR leaned|
|Learn||learnt OR learned|
|Smell||smelt OR smelled|
|Spell||spelt OR spelled|
|Spill||spilt OR spilled|
|Spoil||spoilt OR spoiled|
Words ending in -or (American) -our (British) color, colour, humor, humour, flavor, flavour etc.
Words ending in -ize (American) -ise (British) recognize, recognise, patronize, patronise etc.
Use the following drop-down list to find the American English equivalent of these British Expressions.
Use the following drop-down list to find the British English equivalent of these American English words.