Over the years, English has acquired the status of an international language. Rightly so, as it’s increasingly being utilized as a means of communication in business, over the internet, for pedagogy in schools and universities, etc. As is the case with languages, English too has its own set of variants, the most common being British (UK) and American (US). Although mutually understandable, these two alternatives have certain marked differences in accent, pronunciation, vocabulary, spelling and grammar. In US English, the words are usually spelled as they are pronounced unlike in UK English where spellings are usually a product of the resultant cultural or geographical influence, its origin, etc.

On account of globalization and advancements in technology, the gap between these two is diminishing and their preferences in different parts of the world is gradually changing. It is however beneficial to be aware of the differences between the two, some of which are listed below:-

1. Vocabulary

A good number of words that are used for everyday purposes differ in UK and US English.

2. Spelling

One of the most common ways to ascertain one variant of English from the other is the spelling used. Words that end in ‘re’, ‘yse’, ‘ence’, ‘our’ in UK English end in ‘er’, ‘yze’, ‘ense’ and ‘or’ in US English

3. Grammar

There is a bit of contrast when it comes to grammar of both English variants especially the usage of tenses, verbs, nouns, etc.
E.g.: I forgot there was a test today (UK). I’d forgotten there was a test today (US). The past participle ‘gotten’ is used instead of ‘got’. Burned (burnt), cleaned (cleant), smelled (smelt) are some more examples of a change in verb.

These supposed inconsistencies are not of a major concern unless of course there are documents that have to be submitted to a particular English speaking region (e.g.: market research questionnaires, business documents) or when you’ve to appear for English proficiency tests like IELTS, TOEFL, etc. At such instances, it would be a plus if you follow the spelling, vocabulary and grammar patterns of the respective region or country.

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