British Standard English and American Standard English
Apart from some minor differences in phonology, vocabulary, spelling, and grammar, British and American English are very similar. According to Kortmann (2005), the differences are strongest on the level of phonology, followed by those on the level of vocabulary. Spelling differences and especially grammatical differences are less significant.
The table below illustrates some examples of the typical differences between British Standard English and American Standard English.
|British English||American English|
|Phonology (RP versus GA)||e.g. |
pronunciation of /r/ only when it precedes a consonant: hairy  vs. hair 
-> /r/ is dropped in word-final positions in many British varieties (speakers of Irish and Scottish English follow the American pattern rather than the British pattern
|Pronunciation of /r/ in all distributions: GA = rhotic accent |
-> retroflex /r/ in word-final position in most American varieties
|Pronunciation of /a/ usually as  in words like can’t, dance etc. in British varieties||Most American varieties: pronunciation of /a/ in words like can’t, dance etc. as |
|In British varieties /t/ is usually not pronounced as a flap  between two vowels the first of which is stressed||/t/ usually pronounced as a flap  between two vowels the first of which is stressed -> sitter |
Colour, labour, favour
Color, labor, favor
|Grammar||e.g. perfect: |
Experiential perfect: Have you ever gone to Rome?
|Simple past: Did you ever go to Rome?|
|e.g. perfect: |
With certain adverbs (e.g. just, already, recently): He has just finished his homework; She has left already.
|Simple past can be used: He just finished his homework; She left already.|
|No use of additional past participle form gotten of the verb get||Two past participle forms of get: got and gotten. Their use marks a semantic difference: |
-> gotten = used to indicate situations which are dynamic or in progress
-> got = used to indicate static situations and resultative states:
They’ve gotten interested (‘have developed interest in…’)
They’ve got interested (‘are interested’)
Trunk (of a car)
(Information adapted from Finegan (2004) and Kortmann (2005) )
Read more on British and American English:
Crystal, D. (2004). The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language (2nd ed., reprinted). Cambridge et al.: Cambridge University Press.