American English or United States English is the dialect of English language spoken in the United States of America. It is different in some ways from other types of English, such as British English. Many types of American English came from local dialects in England.
Many people today know about American English even if they live in a country where another sort of English is spoken. This may be because people hear and read American English through 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 types of English, the English language gets new words. Because of this, English has been changing for hundreds of years. For example, the English language spoken in India, which has more than one billion people, keeps adding more American English words to go along with its British English base and many other words from any of the 200+ Indian languages.
Sometimes people 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 to sound more like their customers who call from America. These people often keep using American English in everyday life.
Spelling in American English
There are many words that sound the same in both American English and British English, but are spelled differently. For example:
- Words originally from 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 that come from French 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 option in British dictionaries.
- One of the changes introduced by Noah Webster is the change of the double "l" from words like "travelled" to "traveled".
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 are a type of clothing worn around the lower leg by males to stop socks/sox from sagging, and around the upper leg by women wearing stockings)
Images for kids
The red dots show every U.S. metropolitan area where over 50% non-rhotic speech has been documented among some of that area's local white speakers. Non-rhotic speech may be heard from black speakers throughout the whole country.
American English Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.