American vs British English forms- How and when to use them

American vs British English forms- How and when to use them

There is a serious concern arising among English-learning aspirants regarding which is the better choice, the American or British form of English. And this is not a simple matter as there is more than the differences we observe in spelling, pronunciation, and accent.

We are almost living in two different English worlds within the entire English language world. Most of our online spoken English class students face this dilemma. The first and foremost thing to address is that we must acknowledge the presence of both and the difference between them. If we are following or considering UK-based programmes and telecasts, we are surely receiving British English in its accent, and similarly, Hollywood movies will give you American style and structure.

As an online English speaking course in India, we believe that it is not about right or wrong English; but it is about the purpose of usage.

What is British English and American English?

The main difference is that British English keeps the spelling of words it has absorbed from other languages, mainly French and German. Whilst American English spellings are based mostly on how the word sounds when it is spoken.

English was introduced to what is modern day America in the 17th century by the British settlers. Since then, the language has evolved and has been influenced by the many waves of immigration to the USA. As online English tutor, I believe spellings are and always have been the main topic of debate.

English forms- When to use them

The audience:

It is critical to keep in mind the people to whom you are addressing your matter in English. The audience plays a vital role in deciding which is the correct ‘English’ to apply. Take the case for any online English classes around you.

When it comes to dealing with people who are close, like family members, relatives, and friends, the decision is simple. That is the choice of American English. Nowadays, we are speaking more American English in most places in the world.

For instance, if you are working with a British company or a company based in European territory. In this case, you need to understand and be familiar with British English vocabulary and terms. You need to be aware of the difference, as some words or titles may vary.

The location:

In this section, what matters is where you will be moving. If you are going towards the USA, then you definitely need to be more aware of slang, native American style, and their accent.

Subsequently, if the head office or main office or even client’s location is Europe, you need to improve your knowledge about British English. You need to be familiar with the accent, pronunciation, and spelling accordingly. If you are learning English online, this is easily observed when you enroll to courses based in respective countries.

Writing material:

You will find spelling differences many times, so while writing mail or documents, you need to be careful about which English you need to use and to whom this message is going.

You will find British spelling and writing terms in literature as most of the books are written a long time ago, and at that time, British English was followed.

So, in short, it is not about right or wrong English; it is about the purpose or the aim.

It is to be understood that we do need to understand the difference. These differences are simply in spelling, grammar rules, and on the topic of all this, the accent and pronunciation.

  • If you are appearing for exams based on English communication level, you need to pick and use British English.
  • If the book or article is to be used by British readers, then definitely British English is required and your knowledge of the spelling and rules is necessary.
  • If the readers belong to American states or cities, then the focus shifts to that location.

Frequently asked questions:

Three major frequently asked questions are answered below, and this should help you clear up a few doubts that you may have come across related to language and accents.

Which language, British or American, is best to study for international language exams such as IELTS or TOEFL?


IELTS accepts both versions of English. The rule is to use the same English throughout the attempt of the exam. You must not provide a mix of both, or in other words, do not provide a combination of American and British spelling or grammar rules. Although it makes little difference and you can follow the rules and spellings of either format, British or American, it is preferable to use the British accent and content when taking IELTS.


We need to understand the background of the exam of this kind. The TOEFL is preferred by North American institutions. This test is supported by a California-based test prep organization, so eventually the audios and writing materials will carry more American spelling and grammar rules. Again, it is not the case that as a user of a non-American form of English, you are ineligible to take this exam. Simply put, you need to practise and follow American English while preparing for this exam.

Is it correct to use American or British spelling? Why are there different spellings of the same word?

This is purely a difference between the American and British forms of English. Even in the pronunciation dictionary, you will find two different versions, and you will be told that one is American and the other is British.

For many years, people have been confused and often argued or dismayed with each other about the correct pronunciation of a few words and letters. People can now understand that both versions are correct because of available information and online updates, and the only difference is that one uses American spelling and the other British spelling.

If we look from the dictionaries' point of view, we would also find British and American references and the meaning as well as the pronunciation. So, either of them can be correct, and it is not that you need to follow one of them only. But at the same time, it is necessary to be aware and comprehend both of them. The main point is that we need to listen, read, and take in the most widely available forms. Both the British and the Americans have a strong presence and influence today.

We have a detailed blog on the spelling differences between American and British English. Do check it out.

Which is better, American or British?

The one major difference highlighted in the details of both forms is that American English is easier to write and speak, whereas British English is considered heavier as it is more found in literature and books of education. In reality, both have their relevance, and it is necessary to understand that we must be familiar with the existence of both of them, and we must believe that use of any one of them is OK till they are not mixed or combined.

Some myths are established since the originators of the content belong to certain countries and use a particular language. For example, literature in British English or international language exams organised and conducted by American companies. So, we must not be derailed or complicate the matter by overthinking what is more appropriate and applied English.

In conclusion, we would like to say that both the forms of the English language are accepted, and to avoid confusion, one must use either of them. In general, we use more British English in formal and written contents and American English in speaking.

Related Article: British vs American English


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