domingo, 29 de novembro de 2015

Seis Diferenças entre o inglês americano e o britânico

There is an old saying that America and Britain are “two nations divided by a common language.”
No one knows exactly who said this, but it reflects the way many Brits feel about American English. My British friend still tells me, “You don’t speak English. You speak American.”But are American and British English really so different?


Vocabulary

The most noticeable difference between American and British English is vocabulary. There are hundreds of everyday words that are different. For example, Brits call the front of a car the bonnet, while Americans call it the hood.
Americans go on vacation, while Brits go on holidays, or hols. New Yorkers live in apartments; Londoners live in flats. There are far more examples than we can talk about here. Fortunately, most Americans and Brits can usually guess the meaning through the context of a sentence.

Collective Nouns

There are a few grammatical differences between the two varieties of English. Let’s start with collective nouns. We use collective nouns to refer to a group of individuals.
In American English, collective nouns are singular. For example, staff refers to a group of employees; band refers to a group of musicians; team refers to a group of athletes. Americans would say, “The band is good.”
But in British English, collective nouns can be singular or plural. You might hear someone from Britain say, “The team are playing tonight” or “The team is playing tonight.”
 
Auxiliary verbs

Another grammar difference between American and British English relates to auxiliary verbs. Auxiliary verbs, also known as helping verbs, are verbs that help form a grammatical function. They “help” the main verb by adding information about time, modality and voice.
Let’s look at the auxiliary verb shall. Brits sometimes use shall to express the future.
For example, “I shall go home now.”  Americans know what shall means, but rarely use it in conversation. It seems very formal. Americans would probably use “I will go home now.”
In question form, a Brit might say, “Shall we go now?” while an American would probably say, “Should we go now?”
When Americans want to express a lack of obligation, they use the helping verb do with negative not followed by need. “You do not need to come to work today.” Brits drop the helping verb and contract not. “You needn’t come to work today.”
 

Past Tense Verbs

You will also find some small differences with past forms of irregular verbs.
The past tense of learn in American English is learned. British English has the option of learned or learnt. The same rule applies to dreamed and dreamt, burned and burnt, leaned and leant.
Americans tend to use the -ed ending; Brits tend to use the -t ending.
In the past participle form, Americans tend to use the -en ending for some irregular verbs. For example, an American might say, “I have never gotten caught” whereas a Brit would say, “I have never got caught.” Americans use both got and gotten in the past participle. Brits only use got.
Don’t worry too much about these small differences in the past forms of irregular verbs. People in both countries can easily understand both ways, although Brits tend to think of the American way as incorrect.
 
Tag Questions

A tag question is a grammatical form that turns a statement into a question. For example, “The whole situation is unfortunate, isn’t it?” or, “You don’t like him, do you?”
The tag includes a pronoun and its matching form of the verb be, have or do. Tag questions encourage people to respond and agree with the speaker. Americans use tag questions, too, but less often than Brits.
Spelling
There are hundreds of minor spelling differences between British and American English. You can thank American lexicographer Noah Webster for this. You might recognize Webster’s name from the dictionary that carries his name.
Noah Webster, an author, politician, and teacher, started an effort to reform English spelling in the late 1700s.
He was frustrated by the inconsistencies in English spelling. Webster wanted to spell words the way they sounded. Spelling reform was also a way for America to show its independence from England.
You can see Webster’s legacy in the American spelling of words like color (from colour), honor (from honour), and labor (from labour). Webster dropped the letter u from these words to make the spelling match the pronunciation.
Other Webster ideas failed, like a proposal to spell women as wimmen. Since Webster’s death in 1843, attempts to change spelling rules in American English have gone nowhere.
 
Not so different after all

British and American English have far more similarities than differences. We think the difference between American and British English is often exaggerated. If you can understand one style, you should be able to understand the other style.
With the exception of some regional dialects, most Brits and Americans can understand each other without too much difficulty.  They watch each other’s TV shows, sing each other’s songs, and read each other’s books.
They even make fun of each other’s accents.
Grammar Rules That Are Changing
Just as words come and go in English, so do grammar rules. Today we will show you three difficult grammar rules that are disappearing from American English.
Don’t end a sentence with a preposition
When I was in school, my English teacher told me that it is wrong to end a sentence with a preposition. For example, “Who are you talking to?” The last word of the sentence, to, is a preposition. In traditional grammar, you would have to move the preposition before the subject.
“To whom are you talking?”
The rule applies to statements as well as questions. “I know where you’re from,” would be, “I know from where you come.” Today, it sounds very old­-fashioned to speak this way.
The rule against ending a sentence with a preposition goes back to the 18th century, when it was fashionable to borrow grammar rules from Latin. British grammarians celebrated Latin as a pure and logical language. They thought they could improve English by importing Latin grammar rules.
One of the Latin rules that survives in English is the ban on ending a sentence with a preposition. But some of the most common phrases in everyday English ignore the rule.
 A large number of writers and editors say it is acceptable to end a sentence with a preposition. The Economist, a 150­-year-old British news magazine, called the rule “an invented bit of silliness rightly ignored by many excellent publications.”
Whom
Another rule that is disappearing is the requirement of using whom when referring to an object pronoun.
Whom is the object form of who. Grammatically speaking, whom has the same function as other object pronouns, such as me, him, her, and them. For example, “There’s the man about whom I was speaking.”
If you put a preposition before whom, you can easily avoid ending a sentence with a preposition. For example, “Who did you go with?” becomes very the formal “With whom did you go?”
Does all this sound unnecessary and confusing? It is.
Fortunately, whom is rarely used in spoken American English today. More and more publications have stopped using it. In fact, whom has been dying for the past 200 years.
But it still has a place in formal writing. And test makers often make questions with whom to confuse students. A few pronouns have died completely, including ye, thee, thy, and thine. They do, however, still appear in religious texts and classic literature.
The singular their, they, them
A third dying rule involves third-person pronouns. English does not have a single word to say both he and she. In other words, there is no gender-neutral singular third­-person pronoun. So what do you say when you do not know if someone is male or female?
In the past, people used the male pronoun he to refer to all people. “Every student has his own opinion.” In later years, his or her came into use. “Everybody has his or her own opinion.” The change from his to his or her reflected the power of the women’s movement in the 1970s.
But many speakers found that his or her sounded a little strange, especially in conversation.
Today more people say, “Every student has their own opinion.” This example uses the plural their with the singular student. Their means the subject could be male or female. But it breaks a very old and very basic grammar rule: pronouns and their antecedents are supposed to agree in number.
But when you say, “Every student has their own opinion”, the singular student does not match the plural their. So is it wrong to say, “Every student has their own opinion”? Well, it depends on who (or whom!) you ask.
More and more mainstream media organizations are allowing they, them, and their as a gender­-neutral pronoun. But disagreement remains. Like fashion and etiquette, grammar changes over time.
Why not invent a gender­-neutral pronoun for English? After all, languages like Swedish and Indonesian have one. Plenty of people have tried. However, more than 100 attempts to create a gender- ­neutral pronoun in English have failed.

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