Differences between UK and US English

The United States of America (USA) and the United Kingdom (UK) are two different countries separated by thousands of kilometers. Although the USA was a part of UK’s erstwhile colonial empire, it is now a free and powerful country.


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  1. Varieties in English

Academicians of both the USA and the UK state that their official language of communication is English. However, a prolonged political separation between the two countries has led to the emergence of serious and deep cultural differences.

Moreover, in the USA, there are regional variations in English usage and pronunciation. For instance, English pronunciations in Texas and New York are very different from each other.

  1. What is the UK English?

Member countries in the British Commonwealth tend to use UK English. In the spoken form of UK English, the speaker generally uses vocal and glottal modulations. It is common to follow the pronunciation patterns used by the newsreaders and presenters of British Broadcasting Center (BBC). Moreover, in traditional UK English, words like ‘forwards’, ‘upwards’, ‘towards’, etc. are still used. But in US English, the words ‘forward’, ‘upward’, ‘toward’, etc. have extensively replaced them.

There are various other variations and complexities in the verb forms used in UK English. Furthermore, the format of writing date involves mention of the day preceding the month. For instance, it is standardized to write 1st January in UK English, while in US English it is written as January 1.

  1. What is the US English?

Most of the countries in North America (with the prominent exception of Canada) use US English. In its spoken form, the speaker generally uses a nasal tone. There are many US specific slang words and jargons that are used. For example, ‘money’ is often informally defined as ‘bucks’, and phrases like ‘going to’ are mixed up as ‘gonna.’ In US English, spelling can also be very different. Words having suffix –sation are spelled with suffix –zation in the US. For instance, the words ‘civilisation’, ‘utilisation’, etc. are spelled as ‘civilization’, ‘utilization’, etc. All in all, the US English has its own spelling patterns, marked distinctions in pronunciation rules, and various jargons and slang words that are used informally.

  1. Learning the differences is important

The student community, and particularly the international students, should be very careful with the differences between US and UK English varieties. When applying for admission to US universities, the international students must avoid using more colloquial words and jargons as much as possible. Furthermore, having knowledge of American spelling system is very important. For example, writing kilogramme is correct in the UK, but it should be spelled as kilogram in the USA.

  1. Concluding remarks

After attaining independence in late 18th century, the US language, culture, and customs have evolved independently from the UK. Today, although the USA and the UK are international collaborators on many issues, differences in their respective usage of English language have survived. Academic assistance providers must always counsel the international students suitably for tackling these issues.

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