The USA and the United Kingdom: countries separated by the same language

Two countries separated by the same language: the United States of America and the United Kingdom. The main differences between these two variants of English are not just phonetic, but also lexical, grammatical and orthographic.

In terms of the lexicon, there is a tendency to use different words to express the same concept: in the USA they say elevator, while in the United Kingdom they say lift; cookies in the United States become biscuits in the UK; and finally, an apartment in America is called a flat in England.

From a grammatical point of view, there are differences in the tenses. When British English uses the present perfect, American English prefers the simple past. Regarding the verb “to have”, in the United Kingdom they tend to use the form to have got; while in the United States they use the simplified to have. In American English the past participle of get is gotten, while in British English it is got.

Last but not least, orthography: many terms with double ‘l’ in British English only have one in American English (e.g. traveller becomes traveler). Furthermore, British words that end in ‘..tre’ ‘..our’ ‘..ogue’ or ‘..ise’ change to ‘..ter’ ‘..or’ ‘..og’ and ‘..ize’ in American (e.g. colour becomes color and centre changes to center). These differences show us how Americans’ way of writing is closer to pronunciation.

In short, in order for a written or translated text to be understood and appreciated by English-speaking readers, it is important to know whether the target audience is American or British.

To avoid any unpleasant surprises, it is important to trust an agency with expert mother-tongue translators, like STUDIO TRE, which knows these differences well!

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