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British or American - What's The Difference?

March 17, 2019

Okay - it seems like a pretty easy question, I know. One's in Europe, the other's in North, well, America.

 

But really, it's that much different in the writing world.

 

(Well, maybe it isn't, but it confused me when I was editing my novel so I'm gonna save you the confusion.)

 

 

There's much more to it than the spelling of the word. In fact, that's the last thing that determines if your piece of art is written in British- or American-style!

 

(Also, for your enjoyment, memes will be provided throughout.)

Punctuation

 

Quotations and conversations, if you may.


British uses a single quotation mark. It also places the full stop after the quotation rather than inside it. Let me visually demonstrate it for you;

 

'Are you sure?' she asked with an arched eyebrow. 'I clearly remember her saying she doesn't "want anything to do with it".'

 

In American writing, however, double quotation marks are used (and is personally my favorite) in conversation. Full stops are also placed inside the quotation rather than outside. Have a look;

 

"Are you sure?" she asked with an arched eyebrow. "I clearly remember her saying she doesn't 'want anything to do with it.'"

 

Both writing styles follow basic punctuation rules that we took in school, though. Visually, I've always preferred the American-style more - but of course it all depends on your own preference.

 

Grammar

 

Brits have always had a more ... sophisticated way of saying things, and that is reflected in writing too. Assuming I want to tell you that tomorrow I'll see my aunt.

 

If I was a character in a British-style piece of writing, I'd be saying;

 

'I shall see my aunt tomorrow.'

 

If I was in an American-style writing, I'd be saying;

 

'I will see my aunt tomorrow.'

 

They're small details that make a smaller difference but matter a lot in setting the mood of your story or the outline of your characters. Such as in British you'd say you're "in a team", but in American you're "on a team".

 

 

Spellings

 

Now this is the one we've known the most all our lives - and probably made fun of a few ... dozen times.

 

(Okay more times than I can count - even though I am neither American nor British.)

 

There are 3 main spelling differences:

- the popular "u" and "no u".

- the "re" and "er" debate

- and the "s" or "z" discussion

 

In the end this lines up with what you decide to choose in the end.

 

 

Personal Opinion

 

I really like American-style more, and the only reason is that I like the appearance of the words on the pages. Other than that it really doesn't matter.

 

Also, my editor has told me that most people that edit with her pick the American - even British authors. According to her, it's more popular in novels.

 

imho, mystery novels look better (and sound better) in British. But again - it all is preference after all.

 

And that, my friends, is what differs - like I said, it isn't really that big of a deal.

 

I hope I've helped with what I could!

 

Also, as my friend Rakan told us yesterday; life sucks but you don't :)

 

~Leena

 

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©2018 by Leena Althekair.