American English

set of dialects of the English language spoken in the United States

American English or United States English is the dialect of the English language spoken in the United States of America. It is different in some ways from other types of English, such as British English. Many types of American English came from local dialects in England.

American English
RegionUnited States
Native speakers
200+ million
Language codes
ISO 639-3
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Many people today know about American English even if they live in a country where another sort of English is spoken. This may be because people hear and read American English through the media, for example movies, television, and the Internet, where the most common form of English is American English.

Because people all over the world use the English language, it gets many new words. English has been changing in this way for hundreds of years. For example, the many millions who speak Indian English frequently add American English words to go along with its British English base and many other words from the various Indian languages.

Sometimes people learn American English as it is spoken in America. For example, in telephone call centers in India and other places, people often learn American English to sound more like their customers who call from America. These people often keep using American English in everyday life.

The meaning of many words are different in American English. Most changes in a language start with small things. For example, Italian, Spanish, and French all came from Latin.


There are many words that sound the same in both American English and British English, but are spelled differently. For example:

  • Words originally from French that end in "-our" in British English (behaviour, colour, honour, neighbour, etc.) end in "-or" in American English (behavior, color, honor, neighbor).
  • Words that come from French that end in -re in British English (metre, centre, litre) end in -er in American English. In these cases Australian and Canadian English usage is to keep the British (and French) spelling.
  • Verbs that end in -ise in British English (criticise, realise) end in -ize in American English (criticize, organize, realize). However, the -ize ending is optional in British English, and is shown as an in the Oxford British dictionary.
  • One of the changes introduced by Noah Webster is the change of the double "l" from words like "travelled" to "traveled".

Books show that many of these differences come from the writings of English-lover Noah Webster, who made the American dictionary following the American War of Independence.

Some more differences in American English:

  • aluminium is spelled "aluminum"
  • doughnut is sometimes spelled "donut", although Krispy Kreme exclusively uses "doughnut"
  • draught is spelled "draft"
  • gaol (not common) is spelled "jail"
  • plough is spelled "plow"


There are also some words in American English that are a bit different from British English, e.g.:

  • aeroplane is called "airplane"
  • ladybird is called "ladybug"
  • lift is called "elevator"
  • toilet is called "bathroom", "restroom" or "comfort station"
  • lorry is called "truck"
  • nappies are called "diapers"
  • petrol is called "gas" (or "gasoline")
  • the boot of a car is called a "trunk"
  • a dummy is called a "pacifier"
  • trousers are called "pants"
  • underground is called "subway"
  • football is called "soccer"
  • braces are "suspenders" ("suspenders" in British-English are a type of clothing worn around the lower leg by males to stop socks/sox from sagging, and around the upper leg by women wearing stockings)

Regional accentsEdit

General American English is the kind most spoken in mass media. It more vigorously pronounces the letter "R" than some other kinds do. "R-dropping" is frequent in certain places where "r" sound is not pronounced after a vowel. For example as in the words "car" and "card" sounding like "cah" and "cahd". This occurs in the Boston area.