1. cazann34
    Offline

    cazann34 Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2012
    Messages:
    519
    Likes Received:
    41
    Location:
    Scotland, UK

    American grammar and British grammar.....

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by cazann34, Jun 1, 2013.

    I have read that there are vast differences from American grammar and British grammar but as is usually with the internet, this has not been made clear. Can anyone explain what the differences are? Of course I have 'googled' this and as per usually come up with confusing information.
     
  2. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,772
    Likes Received:
    7,281
    Location:
    Scotland
    Hi cazann! Have you got a specific instance in mind? Perhaps I can help?

    As somebody who is American, but has lived in Scotland for the past 28 years, I'm starting to lose focus on this issue "a wee bittie" though! :) Half the time I can't remember which usage is which! But I can confirm there are lots of differences, in spellings, in word usage, in meaning, and maybe even in grammar itself.

    Sometimes these differences are pretty funny. There aren't too many people in the UK named "Randy," for example.
     
  3. ProsonicLive
    Offline

    ProsonicLive Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Messages:
    119
    Likes Received:
    6
    To put it in very loose terms, some spellings and slang
    american: digitize
    UK:digitise (that may be incorrect)
    American: Color
    UK:Colour
    American:Fag" a derogatory term for a homosexual. in modern terms it could be derogatory for any person who is disliked"
    UK:Fag" while not unheard of as a derogatory statement, it is much more common as defining a stick,twig,limb or cigarette."
    these are only the first examples that came to mind. other than slightly different spellings, there is not a lot of difference. we can read their writing, they can read ours.
     
  4. the1
    Offline

    the1 Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2011
    Messages:
    217
    Likes Received:
    16
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    Growing up in Australia, and having predominately used Australian English which is obviously based from the UK... today from my perspective, there are not really any variations to the language. Australian English is a mesh of UK and the US. Obviously there is difference in the way some things are spelled but if I were to say 'digitised' instead of 'digitized', I'm sure you still know what I mean.
     
  5. Aprella
    Offline

    Aprella Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 8, 2013
    Messages:
    156
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Belgium
    There are difference in grammar! I study English and University and we have to pick British or American English. If are not allowed to use American words/grammar if we picked British our exam.
    There are also a lot of differences in pronunciation. (advertisement is a great example of this). I cannot remember any grammar rules right now but there was a thing with tense usage... If you want I'll post it later when I'll come across it when studying (that will at the end of the coming week I think)
     
  6. The Peanut Monster
    Offline

    The Peanut Monster Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 9, 2013
    Messages:
    125
    Likes Received:
    16
    Location:
    New Zealand
    I speak NZ English, based on UK English with significant American influence. I've lived and studied in both the UK and the US. I wouldn't say the differences are "vast". And I'm not sure its a grammar issue as it is so much a vocab/spelling/punctuation thing - thats where the most prominent differences are. Grammar I'd say is more or less the same (formal grammar rules that is). Vernacular grammar is obviously a bit different between the two countries.
     
  7. cazann34
    Offline

    cazann34 Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2012
    Messages:
    519
    Likes Received:
    41
    Location:
    Scotland, UK
    Hi Jannert,
    It's a general grammar question (not punctuation but the wording aspect of grammar), I found such conflicting information online my head started to spin and I thought the best thing to do was to ask people in the know - forum members.

    This made me laugh out loud. There's NO boys named Randy in Britain (not to my knowledge anyway) If you don't understand, look up the name in British slang and your see why.
     
  8. cazann34
    Offline

    cazann34 Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2012
    Messages:
    519
    Likes Received:
    41
    Location:
    Scotland, UK
    That would be great thank you in advance. The difference in tense was one of the aspects I wanted answered, especially since the majority of the critiques have been a about tenses mistakes - I'm just curious to know if its my 'bad' grammar or a confusion caused my variation in American and British grammar.
     
  9. Aprella
    Offline

    Aprella Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 8, 2013
    Messages:
    156
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Belgium
    Okay! I'll let you know if I come across something!
     
  10. Ian J.
    Offline

    Ian J. Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2012
    Messages:
    299
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    London, England
    Not grammar per se, but still related:

    I just looked up '-ize' vs '-ise' (and '-yse') on the internet and found this page which I will need to make a note of: http://oxforddictionaries.com/words/ize-ise-or-yse. It basically says in British English, either '-ize' or '-ise' are commonly used, but for the following must always be '-ise':

    advertise; advise; apprise; chastise; comprise; compromise; despise; devise; disguise; excise; exercise; improvise; incise; prise (meaning ‘open’); promise; revise; supervise; surmise; surprise; televise

    and the following must be '-yse':

    analyse; breathalyse; catalyse; dialyse; electrolyse; hydrolyse; paralyse; psychoanalyse
     
  11. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,834
    Likes Received:
    10,013
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    There are differences in elision points in some speaking regions and amongst certain speakers.

    Some, but by no means all, speakers of BrE will say, "He said he would call, but he never."

    That elision point is not heard in AmE. It would always be, "He said he would call, but he never did."
     
  12. Ian J.
    Offline

    Ian J. Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2012
    Messages:
    299
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    London, England
    I see that as slang and not conventional in British English really. I'd certainly add the 'did' at the end.
     
  13. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,834
    Likes Received:
    10,013
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    Hence, the reason I said "some, but by no means all..." And the use of this particular elision point in BrE has lasted much longer than is typical of the shelf life for slang. It's an alternate structure for many speakers, not slang. Slang is a very different phenomenon.
     
  14. minstrel
    Offline

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,722
    Likes Received:
    4,821
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    I haven't noticed any major differences in grammar between British and American English. However, there does appear to be a difference in placement of adverbs between American English and Irish English. For example, an American would say "He tied his shoelaces quickly" and an Irishman would say "He tied quickly his shoelaces." I stumbled over that kind of construction a couple of times when I first read James Joyce.

    I once saw a documentary about U2 making an album in Ireland, and Brian Eno was producing. He met a couple of Irish girls and was jokingly trying to convince them that he was Quincy Jones. He said his passport would confirm this. The girls said "Show us it." That construction is almost unheard-of in the USA. Here, we'd say "Show it to us," never "Show us it."
     
  15. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    fyi, the word has exactly the same meanings in the US... but parents don't always consider the sad consequences of what they name their offspring, leaving them to battle ridicule throughout their school days and beyond...

    ima hogg is one infamous example, though she rose above it to become a well-respected figure in her native texas... i had to caution my own youngest daughter to not give her firstborn the name of 'aspen' for the obvious to me [but unnoticed by her] reason... so she relegated it to middle name status and went with the safer 'ryan' for his first name...
     
  16. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,834
    Likes Received:
    10,013
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    Just to add to the collection of differences... Was watching Game of Thrones last night and heard the following lines:

    "That give you any ideas?

    "Might do."

    The use of do in the elided sentence is not a structure you would hear in AmE. We would say, "It might." There was also mention of something tasting nice during the show. It would be unusual for an American to say nice for the taste of food. Good is the norm in AmE in that context.
     
  17. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,601
    Likes Received:
    5,875
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    If you told someone in the US, they're going to put bitumen on the metal road, few people would have a clue what you meant. ;) "Pissed"means angry in the US and drunk in Oz. "Bloody" is not a curse word in the US.


    I don't mind the extra 'a's and 'u's in British spellings but my brain rejects 'sceptic' sounding the same as 'skeptic'.
     
  18. KaTrian
    Offline

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2013
    Messages:
    5,564
    Likes Received:
    3,561
    Location:
    The Great Swamp
    This structure has become something of a joke in our household. A accuses B: "You drank all the milk!" B replies: "I nevah!" It just sounds so awesome. I think we picked it up from Jeeves and Wooster or something.

    Same here. My brains read /septik/...
     
  19. Ian J.
    Offline

    Ian J. Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2012
    Messages:
    299
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    London, England
    I've never seen any of 'Game of Thrones', but from the sound of those quotes it feels like they're using some contemporary colloquial British English. I'm not sure if I like that idea. I'd much prefer to hear 'might have' or 'might've' than 'might do'.
     
  20. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Americans do not use "have got" - they never say "Have you got a pen?" or "I've got three apples." Or so that's what I heard from my American friends.

    Not having studied this in depth and also that American English has become so prevalent that I can't often tell which is which anymore, I'd say my personal impression is that Americans use a lot more slang than Brits do. (this could be due to the fact that British slang just sound like normal words to me lol and thus I don't notice) I can't give any examples as I don't remember any, but I do remember whenever I speak to an American, they always use all kinds of words and phrases I've just never heard of. The meaning is very clear from the context, so I don't struggle to understand, but I do not grasp the exact meaning with all its nuances.

    However that may impact more on speaking than writing.

    Also, I agree with Ian - when I saw that GoT quote, my first thought was: "It should've been 'might have', not 'might do'." You'd use "might do" for, I dunno, "You gonna go out today?" - "Might do."
     
  21. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,834
    Likes Received:
    10,013
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    I wouldn't say never. There are some structures that do see some use, and others that are decidedly never used in the general dynamic of any speaking region. If we were to give it a scale from 1 to 10 where 1 is never and 10 is always or standard, I would give the above mentioned "have got" structure a 4 in AmE.

    I have a friend who lives in Reading who taught me the meaning and use of stonking just the other day. What a great word! I love it's sound. :D

    Even in this slightly different use connoting action, might do would still be a solid 1 in AmE. The full structure would be perfectly normal to hear, a 10, as in, I might do that, but never elided to just might do.

    Except.... Now that I think of it, there is one case where one might hear that structure in AmE, but the meaning is very different, and it's not the same elision, so I would consider it a different structure. In this case the elision occurs only in the dropping of the subject pronoun, not the action and subject pronoun. You might hear an American say might do in its meaning of something serving or working or sufficing.

    "I know you asked for a large screwdriver, but I could only find this medium one."

    "Hmm. Might do. We'll give it a try"
     
  22. Ian J.
    Offline

    Ian J. Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2012
    Messages:
    299
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    London, England
    In BrE, that could even be reduced to just 'might':

    Alan: 'You gonna go out today?'

    Bob: 'Might.'

    Though I feel it reads pretty poor compared to hearing it in real life, and I can't say I'd be happy to write in that form for any of my work, regardless of the character's speech quirks. I think also that 'might do' can't be workably contracted, whereas 'might have' can be contracted to 'might've', which perhaps explains why that specific instance of using the single word 'might' has come about.
     
  23. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,834
    Likes Received:
    10,013
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    One phrase which I am hearing with great regularity now in the U.S. is spot on. I can quite easily remember a time when that phrase was as rare as fortnight to hear and had a marked Hail Britannia! sound it for us.

    For some reason the American zeitgeist is embracing it. :)
     
  24. Ian J.
    Offline

    Ian J. Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2012
    Messages:
    299
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    London, England
    I found something out recently that made me pause for thought:

    One of the famous differences between American and British English is 'Fall' vs 'Autumn'. However, while they now seem to be almost exclusive in either country respectively, the term 'Fall' is apparently not American but British. It seems that sometime in the 18th Century BrE adopted 'Autumn' from the French 'Automne' and replaced 'Fall' with it, but AmE held on to the original word! :)
     
  25. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,834
    Likes Received:
    10,013
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    I think what you mean is that Fall is not an American neologism, but original to the language, where Autumn is a French borrowing, causing the elder word to survive on in the U.S. and find rare use in the U.K. Not surprising. That mn consonant cluster at the end of autumn is decidedly not Anglo-Saxon. There are a few other words like this. Pail instead of bucket is one, though bucket is used with equal frequency in the U.S. and tends to depend one lives.
     

Share This Page