British vs American English – Grammar Differences


British vs American English – Grammatical DifferencesEnglish language is used differently in the United States and in England and in other English speaking countries. There are some differences between American and British English in vocabulary, spelling, pronunciation as well as a few grammatical differences. In this section I’m only going to tell you the grammatical differences.

1. The use of present perfect
The American English prefers the simple past tense to the present perfect tense.

American:
• They just arrived home.
• We just finished our meal.
• Did you have lunch yet?

British:
• They have just arrived home.
• We have just finished our meal.
• Have you had lunch yet?

Perfect tense “Have”
American:
They have most likely landed by now.

British
They most likely have landed by now.

2. The use of subjunctive
The American English tends to hide “should” from the sentence.
[It’s Necessary/ essential / vital / urgent / imperative… that + (hidden should) + verb]

American:
• It’s essential that she be told the truth.
• It’s vital that you be taken to hospital.
• It’s important that Barry stop smoking.

British:
• It’s essential that she should be told the truth.
• It’s vital that you should be taken to hospital.
• It’s important that Barry should stop smoking.

3. Asking for the person on the phone
American:
Hello, is this Julie?

British:
Hello, is that Julie?

4. Use of look like /as If
American:
He looks like he is an expert.

British
He looks as if/like an expert.

5. The use of tags
The Americans use tags much less often than the British. Americans often use “right” and “OK” as tags.
American:
• You’re coming with us, right?
• I’ll bring the baggage in, OK?

British:
• You’re coming with us, aren’t you?
• I’ll bring the luggage in, shall I?

6. The names of the rivers
The Americans put the word “river” after the name, whereas the British put it before.
American:
Colorado River

British
River Thames

7. The title of an important person
The Americans normally put both the title and the descriptions of offices in front of the names.
American:
• President Roosevelt
• Prime Minister Churchill


British
• President Roosevelt
• Churchill, the Prime Minister
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