Comparison of American and British English

American and British English are one and the same language, but there are a few differences. These two forms of English differ mainly in pronunciation and vocabulary, and sometimes in grammar, spelling, and punctuation.


It is important to pay attention to the differences between American and British English if you want your translation to make a good impression.


In addition to the differences in language, different units of measurement are often used for temperature, weight, length, surface area, or volume. At German American Translations we make sure to use the correct commonly accepted units of measurement in our professinal translations.

Differences in American and British spelling

Some words are spelled differently in American and British English. For example, the word ending:

                                                   AE                             BE

...or in AE is ...our in BE                color                          colour in AE is   in BE                theater                       theatre in AE is ...ce  in BE                 license                       licence

...ze in AE is  in BE                 specialize                   specialise

...ed in AE is ...   in BE                 burned                       burnt


and the letter:

i in AE is sometimes an e in BE       inquiry                       enquiry

i in AE is sometimes a y in BE         tire                            tyre

a in AE is sometimes an e in BE      gray                           grey

a in AE is sometimes a y in BE        pajamas                     pyjamas 

French endings are sometimes dropped in American English: in                                        program                     programme

...ue in                                         catalog                       catalogue in                                         shop                           shoppe

Differences in American and British grammar

There are few differences in American and British grammar. One example is the way the verbs have, got, and do are used. In British English you would say "Has she got a pet?" American English uses the expression "Does she have a pet?" Whereas Americans say "I don't have," the British say "I haven't."

Differences in American and British vocabulary

Some British words do not exist at all in American English and others have a completely different meaning. The word chips, for instance, means potato chips in AE but French fries in BE. British English uses the word crisps. There are numerous other words that have different meanings in British and American English. It is important to pay attention to these differences in order to avoid misunderstandings.