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An article by Kerry Maxwell and Lindsay Clandfield on recognizing grammatical differences between American and British English. In spoken American English, it is very common to use the simple past tense as an alternative in situations where the present perfect would usually have been used in British English. A: Are they going to the show tonight? A: Can I borrow your book? B: No, I didn’t read it yet.
B: No, I haven’t read it yet. The other team are all sitting down. I’d like to have a bath. Have is frequently used in this way with nouns referring to common activities such as washing or resting, e. I’ll just have a quick shower before we go out. In American English, the verb take, rather than have, is used in these contexts, e. I’d like to take a bath.
Why don’t you take a rest now? A: Are you coming with us? In American English, do is not used in this way, e. In British English, needn’t is often used instead of don’t need to, e. They needn’t come to school today.
They don’t need to come to school today. In American English, needn’t is very unusual and the usual form is don’t need to, e. In British English, shall is sometimes used as an alternative to will to talk about the future, e. In American English, shall is unusual and will is normally used.
Shall we ask him to come with us? In American English, should is often used instead of shall, e. Should we ask him to come with us? In British English, at is used with many time expressions, e. In American English, on is always used when talking about the weekend, not at, e. Will they still be there on the weekend?
She’ll be coming home on weekends. In British English, at is often used when talking about universities or other institutions, e. In American English, in is often used, e. She studied French in high school. In British English, to and from are used with the adjective different, e. In American English from and than are used with different, e.
In British English, to is always used after the verb write, e. I promised to write to her every day. In American English, to can be omitted after write, i. I promised to write her every day.
Note that the irregular past forms burnt, dreamt and spoilt are possible in American English, but less common than the forms ending in -ed. An important point to make is that different doesn’t mean wrong. The truth is that no language or regional variety of language is inherently better or worse than another. The answer here is to point out the difference. The differences are not so numerous as to overload the students and often can be easily dealt with.