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07 / 11 / 2006

UK AND US ENGLISH DIFFERENCES-1: meaning and examples

Good morning everybody.

Many English students that I have met over the years are too obsessed, in my opinion, with the dialect of English that they are learning. I have heard statements such as, "I want to learn American English because I have friends in New York" or "I want to learn British English since it's the 'correct' English" or even "I only want to learn the English spoken in Cambridge."

Every single language on Earth has different dialects and varieties! The Spanish spoken in Costa Rica, for example, is very different from the Spanish spoken in Madrid; however, they are both Spanish and they are both legitimate and 'correct' varieties to their speakers.

As a student of English, your objective should be to enthusiastically expose yourself to as many different English dialects and accents as possible (England, US, Canada, Australia, Ireland, Scotland, South Africa, New Zealand, Jamaica...). Don't be afraid of dialects, welcome them! A true sign of an advanced English student is his or her ability to understand speakers from different dialects or varieties.

In the preface to his book A to Zed, A to Zee: A Guide to the Differences between British and American English (Editorial Stanley, 2000), Glenn Darragh states that the differences between US and British English in "grammar, syntax and spelling are relatively minor. The main differences [...] are [vocabulary] and culture."

For the next several days we will look at differences in Spelling, Grammar, & Vocabulary in standard British and standard North American English. We hope this will help you appreciate the differences and to see that those differences are very minimal, similar to the differences between, say, Mexican Spanish and Madrid Spanish. These Daily Vitamins were originally sent between February 16th and February 23rd, 2004.

Please post any questions about today's Daily Vitamin in the Daily Vitamin Plus! forum section on our website.

Enjoy your day!