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Main differences between American and British English

When you need to translate into English, you should be aware that there are differences between British and American English that make translation that little bit harder. Although most words sound (and are) the same in both British and American English, there are some fundamental differences between the two. We often use the same words but spell them differently in British and American English.


Different spellings

If you’re translating into American English, the rule of thumb is that spelling in American English tends to be closer to the way the word is pronounced. British spelling, on the other hand, tends to respect older forms of words which were originally adopted by English and which were borrowed from other languages.


Cheque or check?

For example, a translation agency that is asked to translate cheque will find that the word is spelt differently in American English. Since the word sounds exactly the same as check, the convention in American English is to spell it the same way.


Correct spelling eliminates confusion

Whether you’re a writer, an exchange student or a business person, you need to have a clear understanding of the main differences between American and British English, especially in terms of spelling. Spelling will avoid confusion, as well as help you come across as more professional and a true citizen of the world.


Words ending with “re” and “nce”

Words that end in “re” are often spelt differently. So, British English uses centre and fibre while American English will use center and fiber.


Defence or Defense?

Also, when using words that end in “nce”, British spelling often uses nce ending while American English users prefer “nse”. Thus, while British English users spell it defence, American English users use the same word but pronounce it differently and spell it defense. Another example is license – British English – as opposed to license – American English.


Words ending with ise

Also, another difference between British and American English that you need to be aware about relates to words that end with the letters ise. In British English, the word apologise is spelt with ise ending while the same word in American English is spelt as apologize with an ize ending.


All these rules can confuse those who are not good at distinguishing between American and British English. If you are learning English as a second language, then matters can become quite confusing. Depending on where you plan on learning the language (i.e. America or Britain) you will need to use the appropriate rules. Unless you understand the rules of spelling you won’t be able to master the language.


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