We dont like to generalize, but, generally speaking, there are differences between British English and American English. And if youre an international student in the USA from an English-speaking country most likely a Commonwealth nation youre probably already very aware of some of them. But American English tends to be taught in many non-English speaking countries, so learning how English can vary will help you no matter where you travel. Its important to note, though, that the vast majority of grammar and word usage is the same in both countries, so we can complain about international student loans without any language barriers.
How to word things
Theres a tendency to talk about a British accent or an American accent as if theres only one of each. But just like in every country, people in one geographic region may not sound exactly like those in other regions. This means their overall accent, specific word pronunciation, and even slang words arent the same. Though it sounds like a lot to learn, youll pick up the local dialect at your school (as well as all kinds of other important terms) pretty quickly.
Most American English has rhotic accents, meaning the letter R is pronounced. In most British English, however, the R is often not pronounced and is sort of skipped over. But heres a fun fact: In the Boston accent which, notably, is in the USA the R is often not pronounced either. So we really are alike!
Some grammar is also used slightly differently between the USA and England, but both are correct and are understood by the other speaker. The biggest example you might notice is that Americans use -ed to end a word in past tense, while the British may use -t instead. This means that I learned about my visa requirements yesterday in the USA becomes I learnt about my visa requirements yesterday in England.
Other differences to note
Youve probably heard the stereotype that Americans love to talk. While this often isnt the case, what is common is greeting someone without expecting a detailed reply. Youll hear a lot of How are you? and Hows your day? from people passing through your life, such as a cashier, waiter, or even colleague. But the expected response is not a story but rather a generic and short Good, thanks.
Though most of your American-English learning skills will focus on vocabulary and grammar, theres another important difference that will affect you on a daily basis: time. In England, and in most other countries around the world, the clock is 24 hours. But in the USA, a 12-hour clock is used with the addition of a.m. (for midnight through noon) and p.m. (for noon through midnight). So, for example, if you meet up with a friend for dinner at 19:00 in England, youll meet up with the same friend at 7 p.m. in the USA.
Learn about American Cultural Values and Differences.