American English & British English - 8 Grammar Differences

By: English Jade - Learn English (engVid)

Hi, everyone. I'm Jade. What we're talking about today is some grammatical differences between American English and British English because although we speak the same language and we understand each other, we actually have two varieties of English and we have different rules; we have some different grammar that comes with that. So I think this video is interesting for you if you're learning English. And I suggest you use this video to just make sure that whichever variety you prefer that you take all the rules associated with that variety. So don't think: "Oh, I like the rule for collective nouns in American English, that's easier, I'll do that but for British English, it's easier to spell like that".

Don't do that. Just keep it standard. Pick one, learn the rules, keep it standard that way. I also think this will be interesting to you if you're a native speaker, so if you're an American, you're a British person and you just want to compare just for interest's sake.

So, let's get started. Number one: collective nouns. A collective noun represents a noun standing for a collection of individuals or not necessarily individuals, but within one bigger thing. So, a good example is government. Government, do you see it as one thing making decisions as the government speaking as one voice, or do you see it as a collection of different political parties, or even different individuals within one thing - the government? In British English, we can make our collective nouns singular or plural to reflect the fact that just because one thing is a group, it doesn't necessarily mean that they're speaking with one voice or one vision. So we can say: "Tom's family is", or: "are coming to visit." In British English.

It just depends. Do you have a happy family? Are you one family happy unit or are you a collection of different individuals making up that family; mom, dad, your brothers, your sisters? In which case, you can use: "are". In British English, we can say that, whereas in American English, we have to just use the singular verb. Here's an example: "The government have cut spending". Government is seen as one thing, so we use the singular verb. Moving on now, rule number two.

American English & British English - 8 Grammar Differences

We have different spelling rules also. Here's one to consider: spelling for "ed" words. In American English, it's generally preferred to spell with "ed". Let me tell you a story about something on my other YouTube channel. I have a video there that generates quite a lot of negative comments sometimes because I say something about Americans and they're not very, very happy when they watch it and sometimes people get really angry. And in a comment, somebody was like: "Hey, you can't even spell! You should spell 'learned' with 'ed', not a 't'". And she was like really angry, said all this stuff in there; taking the video way too seriously.

And then, it started a bit of a comment thread, and people were like: "Hey, you're embarrassing Americans - you can spell it that way" and things like this. So, that's a good example of how when you... When you're used to your variety... I'm used to British English mainly, I'll sometimes see something in the American variety that confuses me. So obviously that girl hadn't seen "learnt" spelt with a "t" before which is okay in British English. So, in American English, you have a couple of exceptions. You would spell: "dreamt" and "smelt" with a "t". I guess because these words sound like they've got "t" endings, whereas in British English, we have an option; we can spell words with a "t" or "ed" in a lot of cases.

Like: "learnt/learned", "burned/burnt", "dreamed/dreamt", and they actually have a different pronunciation as well. We have a couple of exceptions too. We don't say: "smelt" and we don't say: "leapt" - we spell these with "ed". So those are our little spelling differences for you. The third rule now is the past participle of "get". The rule generally... The basic rule is: in British English, we can't say: "gotten". To say: "gotten" is wrong in British English. We use "got" as past participle. Now, I'm observing that people are starting to use "gotten" in British English. It's not considered standard or grammatically correct, but people around my age and people younger than me, they're using "gotten" now and I think that's surely the internet surf; American culture, American film and that kind of thing, and TV series on British people in there for a British language. So, how are we using the past participle of "get" in sentences? You could say..

In American English, you could say: "I've gotten a headache". And that sentence means talking about the past and in general. Before, at some point in time, I've gotten a headache. We can't use "gotten" in British English, so what do we say? If we're talking about the past and the same general meaning, we'd need to say: "I've had a headache." At some point in my life, I have had a headache. But what if we want to talk about now, what do we say? In fact, we can use the same sentence. In American English and British English, if we're talking about now, we can simply say: "I've got a headache." And what's important to notice there is we're not using "gotten" as past participle; we're just using "got". The same as British English. And point number four, if we're talking about dates, we have different conventions about the date.

So in American English, they don't use an article. They would say: "My birthday... My birthday..." I can't say that sound. "My birthday is September the 9th". Sorry, I did my British English thing, I put "the" in there where it doesn't belong in the American English. You'd say: "My birthday is September 9th". In British English, we need to use "the".

We say: "My birthday is the 9th of September". Also using a preposition there. So those are the first four differences. We've got four more differences to look at. Let's go over the last four differences I'm going to talk about between American English and British English. Number five: talking about recent past events. We have a different preference on the grammatical form to use. In British English, we like to use the present perfect.

So we'd say: "I have just seen her". Talking about something that just happened recently, I saw my friend. Then I say: "I have just seen her". Whereas the preferred way to say that in American English is with the past simple and using the adverb. So, you could say in American English: "I just saw her". The adverb here is coming before the verb. And in the present perfect, the adverb is going between the auxiliary verb and the main verb in the sentence. So we say: "I have just seen her". We've got two more examples.

"He already finished". Compared to: "He has already finished". And in the question form: "Did she leave yet?" Compared to: "Has she left yet?" To say about these last two, these will be heard and spoken American English, perhaps not really written. In written English, American, it's also possible to use the present perfect like how we're using it in British English. Let's look at number six now, using "got". In informal spoken American English, "got" can be used in a different way, in a way that's not really acceptable in British English. So "got" can be used for necessity: "I got to go". In British English, we would say the same thing with the present perfect: "I've got to go". Or: "I've got to go". Yeah, so our general preference is using the present perfect a bit more than in American English. Let's look at using "got" for possession. "Possession" means something you own, something that belongs to you.

In American English, informal, spoken - it is possible to say: "I got a car". It's not considered correct, but it's said and it's spoken. Whereas in British English, again, we're using the present perfect, and we say: "I've got a car".

Let's look at the next difference now, number seven: compound nouns. A compound noun is when you have two nouns together and the meaning together is one noun. So, here are some examples. In American English, this is how they're formed: it's [verb] + [noun], and then you get something like this: "jump rope" and "dive board". But compare that to British English where we do the form of: [gerund] + [noun]. And another way of understanding gerund is [verb] + [ing].

So our preferred forms have "ing". So we can say: "skipping rope", means the same as "jump rope", when you do that thing and you jump; exercise or in the playground at school. And the American "dive board" compares to the English "diving board". And that brings us to the last difference that I'm going to talk about today. This is the most complicated difference I think because in American English, it's a lot clearer what is meant and in British English, this subjunctive mood can be quite hard to grasp what's actually being spoken about. So, what is a subjunctive mood? If you want... Here's the situation: your friend wants to find out how to get to Upstate New York, and somebody says to him, the car hire place or whatever, they said: "They suggested he rent a car". And they're talking about now, that meaning is now.

They're giving him an option and an option in the future. Okay? So it's like a hypothetical, it's in the future. Compare that to British English. Two options, first option you can say: "They suggested that he should rent a car". Why is "should" in there? It's a little bit confusing.

Okay? My feeling is that "should" is there because we use "should" in like a polite way for making offers and that kind of thing, or saying the hypothetical, talking about now. "They suggested that he should rent a car". And the second way, even more confusing I think because we have a backshift in the tense. We say: "They suggested that he rented a car". So we backshift there, even though the meaning is still talking about now and, you know, potentially his future actions. So yeah, compare this one to..

We'll compare these two. "They suggested he rent a car". Meaning now in American English, compared to: "They suggested he rented a car". Meaning now also, with the implication of now. So, there are eight grammatical differences for you between American English and English English. If you did like this video, please give it a thumbs up; really appreciate that. And if you like my teaching style, please subscribe to my channel, not only on my engVid channel, but on my other channel as well because I've got two channels. And you can watch all kinds of lessons on my channel, so I'd really appreciate it.

And, oh yes, did I tell you to do the quiz? Go and do the quiz about this because that way, you can exercise your brain and learn more about English and American English. So, see you and come back and see me again. There's a big hug for you, and a good-bye from me. Bye.

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