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British v American English

English For Israel British v American English

Britain and America are two countries separated by a common language, and you never understand one until you understand the other.

Although spoken British and American English are generally mutually intelligible, there are occasional differences which might cause embarrassment, for example, in American English a rubber is interpreted as a condom, while in British English it means an eraser. 

One of the most notable differences between British and American English is in their pronunciation. 

American English tends to be more straightforward, with less emphasis on individual syllables. British English, on the other hand, often has more complex pronunciation patterns, with more emphasis on individual syllables and a greater variety of vowel sounds.

The use of vocabulary is another difference.

American English often uses words that are different from those used in British English. For example, the Brits say football, while the Americans say soccer. In British English the term period, meaning full stop is not used. In American English the term full stop is rarely, and commonly not understood. 

Grammar is another area where British and American English differ. 

American English often uses the present perfect verb tense less than British English. American English also tends to use the past participle form of a verb more than British English. For example, in American English, you say I have walked, while in British English you say I have been walking.

Spelling is also a notable difference between British and American English. 

British English often uses the letters ou where American English uses just the o, such as in the words colour and color. American English uses the letter z (pronounced zee in America and zed in Britain) where British English uses the letter s, as in the words analyze and analyse. This is particularly important when writing emails.

In terms of punctuation, American English uses double quotation marks (") while British English uses single quotation marks (').

American English is more direct and informal than British English. Americans use contractions in their speech.  Americans also use slang and colloquial expressions more frequently than the British.

Business and Finance

In financial statements, what is referred to in American English as revenue or sales is known in British English as turnover. In American English, having high turnover in a business context generally carries negative implications, although the precise meaning differs by industry.

In British English a bankrupt company goes into administration or liquidation. In American English when a company goes bankrupt it files for Chapter 7 (liquidation) or Chapter 11 (reorganisation).

In American English when a finance company takes possession of a mortgaged property from a debtor, it is called foreclosure, while in British English it's called repossession. In some limited scenarios, repossession may be used in American English, but it is much less commonly compared to foreclosure.

One common exception in  American English is for automobiles, which are always said to be repossessed. Indeed, an agent who collects these cars for the bank is colloquially known in  American English as a repo man.

American English and British English are both interesting and confusing. So which is better? Which is correct?

Both forms of English are considered correct. However, depending on the context and audience, it may be more appropriate to use one form over the other.

For example, if you are writing a formal document for a British audience, it would be more appropriate to use British English.

Similarly, if you are writing a document for an American audience, it would be more appropriate to use American English.

* Since I was born and educated in Britain, but worked primarily in the United States, English For Israel teaches both British and American English.


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