Nowadays, more and more people speak English. All over the world, children, teenagers, and adults study it doing their best to master it. However, which English do we know? Which one are we familiar with? Are we aware of the multitude of Englishes existing here, there, and everywhere? We are about to find out!
All of us, sooner or later, discover that there isn’t only one English. When you encounter a sentence which seems incorrect or a word with a wrong spelling, do not take for granted you are right. Depending on the place you live or the teacher you have, the English you speak may differ from the one your friend speaks. Why does it happen? The English language is not unique. Actually, it presents many varieties. Among all of them, the most common are British and American English. While probably you study standard British, the majority of native speakers are American. Let’s take a closer look on some particular examples.
Sometimes, the English grammar may be tricky. As you have probably noticed, the past simple and past participle forms of some verbs may be double. For instance, the verbs such as burn, dream, lean, learn, smell, spell, spill may end in -ed (burned, dreamed, …) or -t (burnt, dreamt, …). While British English accepts both forms, American English prefers the -ed ending. Then, there is the use of the tenses. The Britons are more disposed to choose Present Perfect than Americans who will rather substitute it with Past Simple, as we can see in the two following sentences:
Have you finished studying yet? (BrE)
Did you finish studying yet? (AmE)
It is not only English grammar that can make you feel confused. Some words in BrE and AmE share the same meaning, even if their forms do not have anything in common. Let’s take a look at the table below:
The most common spelling differences occur in words which end in -re (eg. centre, theatre) in BrE and in -er in AmE (eg. center, theater). There are numerous cases of words in which the ending in -our (eg. behaviour, flavour) in the British version of the language looses ‘u’ in the American one (eg. behavior, flavor).
English is a language spoken by a staggering number of users. It is supposed to be universal, as different nations speak it in order to talk about politics, business, and so on. It is obvious that encountering a sentence looking suspicious makes you wonder. If you are a novice, having doubts is pretty natural. What is more, it is highly positive. It makes you ponder and discover that apart from the form you know, there is another way to express yourself!
By Kaja Brąz