All the time my students ask if there is a difference between American and British English.
Unfortunately the answer to this question is yes. There are many differences between American and British English, especially in pronunciation and spelling; in grammar there are just a few. In fact, English is the first language in many countries and there are differences between them all, these include: Australia, Canada, Ireland, Jamaica, New Zealand, South Africa and the USA.
Here you can check some of these differences:
American English British English
Candy apple Toffee apple
Cotton candy CandyflossDetergent Washing powder
Dishwashing Washing up
Ferris wheel Big wheel
Free time Spare time
French fries Chips
First floor Ground floor
Highway Main road
Movie theater Cinema
Nail polish Nail varnish
Panty hose Tights
Parking lot Car park
Private school Public school
Public holiday Bank holiday¹
Recess Break (play time)
Report card School report
Rubber boots Wellies/wellingtons
Sedan Saloon car
Trolley car Tram
Vacuum cleaner Hoover
Zip code Post code
Another huge difference that causes great confusion is writing the date. When you write the dates in numbers, American and British English differ. It means, to write the date "7th of September 2010", a British would write day/month/year (07/09/2010) and an American would write month/day/year (09/07/2010). This often causes great confusion. So, it's better to write the date in full: 7th of Sptember, 2010 or September 7th, 2010. It also looks nicer.
As one of my favourite writers said about these differences:
"We have everything in common with America nowadays, except, of course, language."
(Oscar Wilde, 1887, The Canterville Ghost).
That's all folks!!!
¹ "Bank holidays" have to follow certain rules, otherwise they are also known as public holidays in the UK.
² If the "sink" is in the kitchen - it's a "sink", but it's in the bathroom it's a "basin".
³When a British hears the word "yard" in connection with "house", we think of a concrete area, usually full of building materials, or work tools.