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ESL Article: British vs. American English (3)

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The differences in American and British grammar are as small and few as holds true for both versions of their lexicon. Still, here are some of them:

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Use of the Present Perfect
In British English the present perfect is used to express an action that has occurred in the recent past that has an effect on the present moment. For example:

"She’s lost her purse. Can you help her look for it?"
In American English the following is also possible:
"She lost her key. Can you help her look for it?"

In British English the above would be considered incorrect. However, both forms are generally accepted in standard American English. Other differences involving the use of the present perfect in British English and simple past in American English include "already", "just" and "yet".
British English:

"I’ve just received an email."
"I’ve already answered it."
"Have you completed your article yet? "

American English:

"I just received an email." OR "I’ve just received an email."
"I’ve already answered it." OR "I already answered it."
"Have you completed your article yet?" OR "Did you complete your article yet?"

There are two forms to express possession in English. -- "have" or "have got"

"Do you have a computer?" "Have you got a computer?" "She hasn’t got any hobbies." "She doesn’t have any hobbies." "She has an interesting new book." "She’s got an interesting new book."

While both forms are correct (and accepted in both British and American English), "have got" ("have you got", "he hasn’t got", etc.) is generally the preferred form in British English while most speakers of American English use the "have" ("do you have", "he doesn’t have" etc.)

Present Progressive (also known as Present Continuous)
There are some verbs in British English that cannot be used in the Present Progressive while in American English they can. Here are two examples:

British English
"I like this conversation more and more."

American English
"I’m liking this conversation more and more."

British English
"I remember this quite clearly."

American English
"I’m remembering this quite clearly."

Americans tend to use adjectives instead of adverbs. Instead of "That’s really good" you might hear them say "That’s real good" or instead of "I’m doing very well" they say "I’m doing pretty good".

Here are some more examples:

British English   American English
He did that really quickly. He did that real quick.
Let’s take things slowly. Let’s take things slow.
Her car drives more quickly. Her car drives quicker.

There are a number of nouns that are uncountable (they don’t have a plural form) in British English while they do have a plural form in American English.
Here are some examples:

British English   American English
types of accommodation accommodation
types of food foods
a lot of fruit many foods
strands of hair hairs

British and American English are more similar than they are different. New media and globalization enable more and more people to participate in an active exchange of ideas and experiences and therefore the geographical differences in the versions of English are becoming less instead of greater.

If you have any English grammar or vocabulary questions,
please post them on this English Grammar Forum.

Next:ESL Article: An American-Russian Dialogue (1)

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