My opinion on the differences between American English and British English

I found this Q&A below on a communication strategy site. Just have a read.

Question: Why do Americans' spellings differ so much? Example: Color instead of Colour, Humor instead of Humour, organization instead of organisation. The list goes on! In fact most words that Americans spell "-ize" and "-zation" we (Australia, UK, NZ etc.!) spell "-ise" and "-sation".

When did America decide to change this? and why??

Answer: On July 4, 1776, the 13 American Colonies declared their independence from Great Britain. Cultural independence followed the political. In 1783 Noah Webster, the first American lexicographer, began reforming certain spellings and (like George Bernard Shaw a century later) advocated further changes.

French-derived spellings — like "honour," "catalogue," and "centre" — were Anglicized to honor, catalog, and center. In words where the "s" sounded like "z" or the "c" like an "s," the letters followed the sound: realize, defense, and so forth.

American spelling has also updated a few of the "ough" words: plow and draft, rather than plough and draught. I look forward to transforming all the "ough" words to spellings that represent their sounds.

Perhaps one could turn the question around and ask why British spelling has resisted such sensible changes? English friends have told me that they had problems remembering where the "u" went: coulor?

English spelling — whether American or British — needs gentle, but thorough, revision so that writers can spend time on their rhetoric and meaning, rather than on their spelling.

Here’s a comment of mine had I been given the chance to riposte:

Well I must admit that I prefer British English to American, so please pardon me if you find my argument overtly biased.

You said that the “British spelling has resisted such sensible changes”. You may be right in that aspect, but in other parts of the language, I find British English much more sensible and less self-contradictory than its American counterpart.

Here are specific examples, to name a few.


It is a common knowledge that BriEng uses the DD/MM/YYYY format while the AmEng uses the MM/DD/YYYY. The Japanese, UN (United Nations), computer programmers, and scientists prefer to choose the YYYY/MM/DD instead.

While the British and Japanese date format looks neater due to its chronological order (one ascends from DD to YYYY and the other descends), the American version is definitely a farce. Why do Americans need to put the middle value (i.e. the Month) at the front? Does anyone have the gut to answer this question?

The Americans have popularised the term 9/11 as to mean the September 11th. Even the British have followed their suit (because it should be called 11th September) due to its overtly-popular usage. However, they are inconsistent in one point: why do they call their independence day as “Fourth of July”? Shouldn’t they reform it to “July Fourth”???


The Americans still retain the “u” for certain so-called exceptional words such as “glamour” and “saviour”. They contradict themselves again.


Why do they need to drop one letter “I”?


Seriously, what’s the problem with using two “I” letters in a single word?

AXE (BritEng) and AX (AmEng)

Oh, apparently they detest using the vowel “e” too!

SULPHUR (BritEng) and SULFUR (AmEng)

The Americans should consider reforming the word “Physics” into “Fysics” too.

STOREY (BritEng) and STORY (AmEng)

Americans really love having homonyms, don’t they?


The 24-hour clock (18:00 or 1800), which in the UK would be considered normal in many applications (for example, air/rail/bus timetables) is largely unused in the U.S. outside of military or medical applications.

Why are they reluctant to use the 24-hour system? Why did their forefathers choose to divide the day’s timing into two separate parts (i.e. AM and PM) and why do they choose to keep such a buffoonish heritage?

For the rest of the world over (outside of USA), normal human beings like me prefer to opt for the simpler, direct-to-the-point, and more practical usage of the 24-hour system.


How do you read 2700?

The British bloke answers “two thousand seven hundred”.

The American guy replies “twenty seven hundred”.

Albeit longer in pronunciation, the Britons’ preference of not “colloquialising” the thousand-numbering system is indeed laudable.


In BritEng, it is “got”. In AmEng, it is “gotten”. Oh dear, hasn’t the language been enough corrupted yet?

If anyone would like to retort or support my points above, please don’t hesitate to do so by commenting on the "riposte" below.

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