Comparing the British and American accents
When speaking, a person’s accent, regardless if it’s a British accent, American, or otherwise, is often the first thing that is noticed, and it can provide many subtle clues regarding a person’s background. Although English is the primary language used throughout the United States of America and the United Kingdom, if a Brit and American are placed side-by-side, one can quickly identify each person’s country of origin. This is due to the many differences that exist between the British and American accents that developed after the Revolutionary War.
One of the most obvious differences between the two accents is the way Americans and Brits pronounce common words. This difference usually lies within the way certain vowels are pronounced along with how a person places stress on specific syllables. For example, a British person would use a soft “a” sound when pronouncing the word “tomato”. Alternatively, a person speaking with an American accent would use a hard “a” sound. In general, this pronunciation difference applies to many different words used in American English; however, only careful study of the British accent can help a person to identify when they need to alter their pronunciation.
Between the two accents, consonants can also be pronounced very differently. American speakers tend to use a stronger “r” sound in words such as “ear” and “more”. An American accent can also be noted by using a “d” sound when two “t’s” are combined in a sentence such as in the word “better”. Those speaking with a British accent tend to enunciate a sharp “t” sound.
Use of Prepositions
Prepositional usage is another marked difference between the two accents that can take some time for a person to get use to get used to when learning to speak with a British accent. Depending upon the message a person is trying to convey, they may need to alter the use of words such as “on” and “at” to speak with the correct accent. For example, Americans would say they are going somewhere “on” a specific day while Brits would choose the word “at”.
Differences in Tense
Learning to use the correct tense is essential for understanding the difference between the two accents. In fact, those with an American accent can choose to use the past tense when describing a past event that affects the present. However, those who speak with the British style would never do so. Instead, they rely on the present perfect tense which is sometimes associated with the tendency for others to view those who speak with a British accent to be more formal and educated. Americans may also use the simple past tense more frequently while British people stick with present perfect the majority of the time.
Although both Americans and the British speak the same language, it can be hard to tell by the vocabulary each person may choose. Many common words in the English language are used to convey different meanings depending upon if a person is British or American. For example, an American may ask for a cookie while a British speaker may request a biscuit. There are also many different colloquial and slang words used that may be misinterpreted by someone who is unfamiliar with the differences between a British and American accent. Another example of this would be an American parent shopping for a stroller while the British prefer to use the term buggie for toting their tots.
Additional Subtle Differences
In addition to differences in the way words are pronounced, vocabulary and the use of tense, British and American accents can be found in the choices a person uses when spelling certain words. A person may also find that certain words are rarely used in one accent versus another. Those with a British accent also convey time differently by stating that a particular time is “a quarter past” versus the American way of saying that something is “a quarter after”. Although subtle, these slight differences can make it clear which type of accent is most familiar with using in their everyday speech.
When comparing the two types of accents, one of the most compelling differences that can be noted is the reaction that using an American accent versus a British impact can have on the listener. Interestingly, British seems to have an air of sophistication that leaves the speaker seeming to be more intelligent than someone who speaks with an American accent. Often, those who learn to speak with a British accent find that it can have a positive impact upon how they are perceived by others that can make them more employable. Those interested in learning to speak with a clear British accent can benefit from using the e-course “Learn the British accent-Fast” that is designed to help people from all walks of life perfect a traditional British sound.