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When confronting differences between the English language of the United States and Great Britain one notes that spellings of the same words can be decidedly different. The following list shows some common examples of the variances between American and British spellings.

 American  British
 center  centre
 check (money)  cheque
 color  colour
 curb  kerb
 gray  grey
 honor  honour
 inquire  enquire
 jail  gaol
 jewelry  jewellery
 labor  labour
 organization  organisation
 pajamas  pyjamas
 peddler  pedlar
 program  programme
 realize  realise
 recognize  recognise
 theater  theatre

 

The two versions of the English language also diverge when it comes to the names for many everyday objects and events. It is easy for a visitor from across the Atlantic to provoke amusement from the natives by calling a cloth used to wipe one's mouth a napkin in England, or by asking an American waiter for the W.C. The following is a list of some common American terms and their counterparts in the United Kingdom.

 

 American  British
 apartment  flat
 bathroom  toilet, W.C., or loo
 candy  sweets
 checkers  draughts
 closet  cupboard
 corn  maize
 cracker  biscuit
 diaper  nappy
 drugstore  chemist's
 faucet  tap
 gas, gasoline  petrol
 hood (of car)  bonnet
 line  queue
 napkin  serviette
 oven  cooker
 round-trip ticket  return ticket
 suspenders  braces
 truck  lorry
 trunk (of car)  boot
 underpass  subway
 undershirt  vest
 vacation  holiday

 

Compounding spelling and word choices, there are also punctuation differences between American and British English. While American English always uses double quotation marks to indicate speech, British English, especially in older texts, sometimes uses single quotation marks. More recent British publications sometimes use double quotation marks.

In both American and British English, periods and commas at the end of a quote come before the closing marks when the quote is a full sentence, or a full sentence broken up by a connecting phrase such as "He said":

"When we go to the beach," he explained precisely, "we always take tanning oil."

In American English, the placement of periods and commas remains the same even when the quote is a sentence fragment. But in British English, periods and commas punctuating sentence fragments are placed outside quotation marks.

American English:

They described the forum as "a stimulating event," but decided that in the future "they would return only on certain conditions."

British English:

They described the forum as "a stimulating event", but decided that in the future "they would return only on certain conditions."