American English

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American English or United States English is the dialect of English language spoken in the United States. It is different in some ways from other variations of English, such as British English. Historically, many types of American English can be found in old local dialects of England.

Many people today know about American English even if they live in a country where another form of English is spoken. This is partly because people hear and read American English via the media, for example CNN television, and the Internet, where the most common form of English is American English.

Because people all over the world use American English as well as other versions of English the English language can add new words. English has been changing for centuries, adding new words to its vocabulary. For example, the English language spoken in India, which has more than one billion people, will add more American English words to go along with its British English base and many other words adopted into English usage in India from any of the 200+ Indian languages.

Sometimes people will learn American English as it is spoken in America. For example, in telephone call centers in India and other places, people often learn American English in order to sound more like their customers who call India from America. These people often continue to use American English in everyday life.

Many word definitions are different in American English. Most changes in a language start with small things. For instance Italian, Spanish, and French all came from Latin.

Spelling in American English[change | edit source]

There are many words that sound the same between American English and British English, but are spelled differently. For example:

  • Words originally from the French that end in "-our" in British English (behaviour, colour, honour, neighbour, etc.) end in "-or" in American English (behavior, color, honor, neighbor).


Words of French origin that end in -re in British English (metre, centre) end in -er in American English. In these cases Canadian usage is to keep the British (and French) spelling.

  • Verbs that end in -ise in British English (criticise, realise) end in -ize in American English (criticize, organize, realize). However, the -ize ending is optional in British English, and is shown as an alternative in British dictionaries.
  • One of the changes introduced by Noah Webster is the change of the double "l" from words like "travelled" to "traveled".

Many of these differences can be traced to the works of Anglophobe Noah Webster, who produced the American dictionary following the American War of Independence.

Some more differences in American English:

  • aluminium is spelled "aluminum"
  • doughnut is spelled "donut"
  • draught is spelled "draft"
  • gaol (not common) is spelled "jail"
  • plough is spelled "plow"

There are also some words in American English that are a bit different from British English, e.g.:

  • aeroplane is called "airplane"
  • ladybird is called "ladybug"
  • lift is called "elevator"
  • toilet is called "bathroom", "restroom" or "comfort station"
  • lorry is called "truck"
  • nappies are called "diapers"
  • petrol is called "gas" (or "gasoline")
  • the boot of a car is called a "trunk"
  • a dummy is called a "pacifier"
  • trousers are called "pants"
  • underground is called "subway"
  • football is called "soccer"
  • braces are "suspenders" ("suspenders" in British-English refers to items of apparel worn around the lower leg by males to prevent socks/sox from sagging, and around the upper leg by women wearing stockings)

Related pages[change | edit source]