The Active and Passive Voice in Sentences

I admit there is a sentences/grammar theme this week!…

In Monday’s blog post we looked at subjects and objects in sentences and on Wednesday we looked at sentences with two (double) objects. If you missed either of these you can still read them by following the links below:

https://graceenglishlanguageteaching.wordpress.com/2018/03/26/sentence-subjects-objects/

https://graceenglishlanguageteaching.wordpress.com/2018/03/28/sentences-with-double-objects/

So what is active and passive about sentences? 

You can work out the active and passive voices of a sentence by using the subject and object. 

The subject is active, they are actively doing the verb. For example: 

“Grace cleans the office every Friday afternoon.” 

Subject: I
Object: My/the office

Grace is actively cleaning. Put simply, the active does the action.

If I say:

“The office is cleaned by Grace every Friday.”

My/the office is still the subject, it is still having an action done to it. It is the passive participant of the action. 

You can spot the passive voice by the fact that it has be/by-verb + past-participle:

“The office is cleaned by Grace every Friday.”

With me? Test yourself with these:

Which part or voice in each of the following sentences is active, and which is positive?

I will put answers at the bottom of the post. 

1. I posted the letter on Tuesday. 

2. She walked her dog three times a day. 

3. The car is washed by my husband every Saturday morning.

Confused? Send me a message on Twitter @GraceEnglishLT

ANSWERS:

1. Active = I/speaker. Passive = the letter 

2. Active = she. Passive = the dog

3. Active = my/the speaker’s husband. Passive = the car.

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Sentences with Double Objects

On Monday 26th March I posted a blog post explaining the differences between the subject and the object in sentences. 

If you missed it, you can read it here: 
https://graceenglishlanguageteaching.wordpress.com/2018/03/26/sentence-subjects-objects/

Now I would like to discuss something a little more complicated – double objects!

What on earth am I on about? 

A sentence can have two objects – one direct and one indirect. 

Let’s take the sentence: The man sent a letter. 

We can immediately see that the verb in question is ‘to send’

In my last blog post we covered that the main noun/pronoun [person/animal] DOING the verb [action] is the subject i.e. the man

And we said that the noun/pronoun having the verb DONE TO THEM, is the object i.e. the letter

But it isn’t always that simple!  

Let’s now take the sentence: The man sent a letter to his mother. 

Now we have 2 objects: the letter and the man’s mother. 

Direct objects are nouns/pronouns that are having an action done to them, for example, the letter is being sent – the letter is a direct object. It is directly receiving the verb action of being sent.

Indirect objects are nouns/pronouns that are affected by the verb action, they are the recipients of direct objects. So the man’s mother is the indirect object, she is receiving the direct object. 

Let’s take another example: The girl gave her friend her class notes. 

We can quickly see that we have:

The verb: ‘to give’
The subject: The girl 

Now let’s think – which object is direct and which is indirect? ‘Her friend’ comes before ‘class notes’ in the sentence, does that mean her friend is the direct object? Which object is receiving the verb action? Which is a recipient of the direct object? 

Direct object: The direct object is the object which is receiving the verb. The class notes are being given, the verb ‘to give’ is being done to them, so the class notes are the direct object.  

Indirect object: Her friend is receiving the class notes. Therefore, her friend is the recipient of the direct object [class notes] and is the indirect object. 

With me? See how you get on with these practice sentences:

Can you identify the verb, subject, direct object and indirect object for the following sentences? 

Sentence 1: The woman buys the car for her family. 

Sentence 2: The teacher marks homework for her students. 

Sentence 3: The boy purchased some flowers for his mother. 

How did you get on? [Answers at the end of this post] 

A quick note!

There are some rules.. 

  1. Subjective pronouns [pronouns which are the subject] are NEVER direct objects. 
  2. Examples of acceptable objective pronouns [pronouns which are the object] are: ‘us’, ‘them’, ‘you’, ‘me’, ‘him’, ‘her’ 
  3. Do not confuse direct objects and subject complements [if you’re not sure what a subject complement is, see the paragraph below]
  4. Only action verbs can have direct objects, linking verbs can not [linking verbs examples: was, are, is].
  5. If the verb is a linking verb, the subject complement is the word which answers the question of “who” or “what”

What is a subject complement? 

A subject complement is a phrase or clause which is used after a linking verb  and complements the subject of a sentence by describing or renaming it. Let’s take an example: 

I forgot to bring my lunch to work today. I was very happy to find free sandwiches at the meeting. 

Subject: I/me/the speaker 
Verb: ‘to forget’ 
Direct object: My/the lunch
Indirect object: Work. If this confuses you think of if I had said “I remembered to bring my lunch to work today” or “I took my Mum to work today”. Work is receiving the result of the verb action on the direct object.
Linking verb: Was
Subject complement: Answers the questions “What” in response to the use of the linked verb “was”. I/the speaker was happy to find free sandwiches. So “happy” is the subject complement. 

Let’s try another one:

My student forgot to do their homework. They are unhappy about having to do it at lunchtime instead. 

Subject: My/the student
Verb: ‘to forget’
Direct object: Me/the teacher
Indirect object: The/their/the student’s homework
Linking verb: are
Subject complement: Unhappy

Still with me? Test yourself with this one: 

Can you identify the verb, subject, direct object, indirect object, linking verb and subject complement for:

I accidentally locked my car keys inside my car. I was thrilled to find a spare at home. 

How did you get on? [Answers at the end of this post] 

For more practice check out my ‘Double Object Verb Matching Worksheet’ and ‘Double Object Reordering Worksheet’ found at:

https://graceenglishlanguageteaching.files.wordpress.com/2018/03/double-object-verbs-matching-worksheet.pdf

https://graceenglishlanguageteaching.files.wordpress.com/2018/03/double-object-verbs-reordering-worksheet.pdf

 

Feeling confused? Send me a Twitter message @ GraceEnglishLT

 

Answers to example/test questions: 

Sentence 1: The woman buys the car for her family.
Verb: ‘to buy’
Subject: The woman

Direct Object: The car
Indirect Object: Her family. 

Sentence 2: The teacher marks homework for her students.
Verb: ‘to mark’
Subject: The teacher

Direct Object: The homework
Indirect Object: Her/the students

Sentence 3: The boy purchased some flowers for his mother.
Verb: ‘to purchase’
[this is another way of saying ‘to buy’]
Subject: The boy
Direct Object: The/some flowers
Indirect Object: His/the boy’s Mother.

I accidentally locked my car keys inside my car. I was thrilled to find a spare at home. 
Verb: ‘to lock’
Subject: I/me/the speaker
Direct object: My/the keys
Indirect object: My/the car
Linking verb: Was
Subject complement: Thrilled

Sentence Subjects & Objects

 

If you recently downloaded my verb tense guide, you will have seen that part 4 gives examples of sentences in each verb tense and colour codes which part is the verb in question, but also the subject and the object. A preview of my verb tense guide part 4:

subject object

In the above preview, ‘S’ is the subject [in red] and ‘O’ is the object in green. 

Okay, so what is this all about? 

The subject is the person/animal DOING the verb. 

The object is the person/animal having the verb DONE on it/them. 

So using the example given above:

I am/the speaker is the subject, they are walking [verb] the dog. 

The dog is the object because they are having the verb [to walk] done to them, they are being walked.

Some more examples: 

The man is dancing on the table 

Subject is doing the verb on the object

 

The woman is washing the car 

Subject is doing the verb on the object

 

The dog is licking the horse 

Subject is doing the verb on the object

 

With me? What if I write the sentences differently? 

The horse is being licked by the dog. 

Even though the horse is now first in this sentence, it is still the object. The horse is being licked by the dog. So the verb [to lick] is being done by the dog [the subject] and on the horse [the object]. 

The horse is being licked by the dog

 

Is there a way I can spot this? 

Yes!  

Pay attention to the verb:

The dog is licking the horse.  

The horse is being licked by the dog.

If something is being “verbed” i.e. being licked, that verb is BEING DONE to them. If an action is being DONE on them – they are the object.
If something is verb-ing they are DOING the verb. If they are DOING the action on something/someone else – they are the subject. 

 

How can I check that I understand? 

Take a look at the GRAMMAR section of my ‘free worksheets’ for some activities:
https://graceenglishlanguageteaching.wordpress.com/downloadable-worksheets/

Still confused? Send me a message on Twitter via @GraceEnglishLT

Verb Tenses Guide & Worksheets

Hi all! 

As many of you are aware, the English language has 12 verb tenses:

  1. Past simple
  2. Present simple
  3. Future simple
  4. Past perfect
  5. Present perfect
  6. Future perfect
  7. Past continuous
  8. Present continuous
  9. Future continuous 
  10. Past perfect continuous
  11. Present perfect continuous
  12. Future perfect continuous 

Now, if these confuse you, or you have no idea what I’m talking about – DON’T PANIC! 

I have written a free guide to explain them all, found here:
https://graceenglishlanguageteaching.files.wordpress.com/2018/03/a-guide-to-the-12-english-verb-tenses1.pdf

To download your FREE copy simply open the link then right click and ‘save as’ 

If you would like to practice and test yourself, I have uploaded 2 NEW WORKSHEETS today:

  1. https://graceenglishlanguageteaching.files.wordpress.com/2018/03/verb-tense-word-search-1-regular-verbs.pdf 
  2. https://graceenglishlanguageteaching.files.wordpress.com/2018/03/verb-tense-word-search-2-irregular-verbs.pdf

MORE GRAMMAR WORKSHEETS COMING SOON!

Love them? Hate them? Confused – send me a Twitter message @GraceEnglishLT 

Guide sneak peek.png

GELT is changing!

Hello!

I hope you are all having a wonderful 2018 so far!

I am changing how GELT works – I will be keeping current online/Skype students, but I will not be taking any more online/Skype students on for 2018.

Instead I will be offering:

  • One-to-one, face-to-face teaching in Brighton only, at normal lesson rates
  • Weekly group chat MeetUp drop in sessions in Brighton/Hove only, these will be at £5 per person – more details to come soon
  • Free lessons via videos – keep your eyes peeled for updates on where to find these!
  • I will be running online monthly Q&A sessions on Twitter
  • I am in the process of creating a purchasable course, consisting of videos and materials

Some of these will take longer to set up than others – so be sure to keep checking my website, Twitter and Facebook for updates! 🙂

If you wish to be kept up to date with developments, please contact me via the contact form on the website, or email me at: graceenglishlanguageteaching@gmail.com

I am also taking even more teaching courses, to be as best a teacher as I can be!

UK History Halloween Special: British Murders

Us Brits have long had a morbid curiosity for the macabre, and our history is full of it. In this Halloween special, I will give a short glimpse into where it all began, with accounts of some of our earliest infamous murderers…

To begin, a little foray into the history of grave robbing. Approximately 200 years ago, grave robbing was becoming a problem for the recently deceased… Just when you finally thought you might get some peace and quiet, some body snatcher would come along and dig you back up again to, quite literally, sell you for science. Which, while assisting in the development of modern medicine, was somewhat rude! These grave robbers, body snatchers or ‘resurrectionists’ (Book recommendation: a novel by James Bradley, ‘The Resurrectionist’) had stumbled upon a gap in the market – while the number of medical and anatomy schools was increasing, the number of public executions (the usual, and only legal, place to acquire a body for medical science) was decreasing and we hadn’t quite mastered the art of refrigeration. You see the problem… So, for a fee, a body could be acquired by alternative means and delivered under darkness via a back door. The fresher the cadaver, the higher the fee…

“What was it like to enter a Victorian mortuary?
It was a room in a hospital likely to look out upon an internal courtyard, so that members of the public couldn’t see in. Its windows would be rubbed with soap or tallow to obscure the view, but natural light was preferred. In the centre of the room would stand a stone table, without a rim or drain: any fluids ran off it to be soaked up by the sawdust on the floor.
Sometimes there was a secret chamber above the fireplace, where a dubiously acquired corpse would be lifted, via hooks and pulleys, to evade any investigation. The notion that medical students needed to hone their skills by dissecting corpses caused great distress, and in previous centuries had been condemned by the Church.”
Taken from: Lucy Worsley, ‘A very British Murder’, page 197.
(Book & TV recommendation: I 100% recommend this book, along with the corresponding TV show of the same name.)

Burke and Hare: Edinburgh, Scotland (1828) – Anatomy Murderers 

Burke and Hare[1]

For Burke and Hare, spying on funerals and digging up corpses was just too much effort. Why would you spend your evenings sneaking around in the dark and digging up merchandise, when a far simpler solution was at hand? 
The career choice of ‘Anatomy Murderers’ began to form in their minds when one of Hare’s elderly tenants made the mistake of dying whilst still owing Hare £4 in rent – naturally, the only solution the pair could see to regain this loss was to weigh down the old man’s coffin with tanning bark and sell his body to Edinburgh University for £7.10, a tidy profit for their troubles. This made being an elderly or unwell tenant in Hare’s house a rather risky affair, and when a second tenant wasn’t dying of natural causes quickly enough, the pair suffocated him and got him down to the University for their fee.
Unluckily for Burke and Hare, although lucky for Hare’s tenants, no further illnesses struck the property, so they decided to investigate other means. Now, fresher is better (more money) and all that planning, spying, waiting and digging is a tiresome, messy business. So instead, Burke and Hare wandered the poorest communities and lured back drunkards, prostitutes, the elderly and the disabled. They suffocated, forcefully overdosed and broke the backs of at least 16 victims, in just ten months. Selling them onto Edinburgh University for between £7 and £10 a piece.

William Palmer: Rugeley, England – The Victorian ‘Prince of Poisoners’ 

“The greatest villain that ever stood in the Old Bailey.”
Charles Dickens on William Palmer in ‘The Demeanor of Murderers’.

William Palmer[2]

As the local doctor, William Palmer should have been an upstanding and trustworthy member of the community. Which many may have considered him to be, until it was discovered that he had poisoned 15 people including his wife, four infant children (the eldest making it to 2 and a half months, the youngest just 7 hours), his own brother and his mother in law!
As with Burke and Hare, Palmer’s motive was money. He insured his relatives, poisoned them with strychnine (traditionally used for killing rodents), noted their death as being due to “convulsions”, pocketed any additional cash on the body – as with a friend who had the misfortune of visiting Palmer’s home while in possession of a large sum of cash, and gambled the insurance money away on a horse racing addiction. His motives for killing his own children are also thought to have been financial, although admittedly not for insurance money, but rather so that he didn’t have to pay to feed them.

Constance Kent: Road (now Rode), England (1860) – The Rise of the British Whodunnit

WHODUNNIT

In the 1860s, Detectives were still new to England (see my blog post on Thursday 6th October 2017 on ‘Jack the Ripper and the Victorian Policeman’ for further information on the Victorian British Police force). Not only were detectives new, and not entirely trusted, but society was still unfamiliar with the notion of a female murderer – let alone a female who had murdered a child, a child who was her blood relative. (Book Recommendation: ‘The Suspicions of Mr Whicher or The Murder at Road Hill House’ by Kate Summerscale. It is an in-depth look into The Constance Kent Case and the rise of the British detective.)

Constance[3]

Constance was one of the ten children of a wealthy Home Office Factory Inspector, Samuel Saville Kent and his wife, Mary Ann Kent. In 1852, her childhood was rocked by the sudden death of her Mother, Mary. Constance’s father went on to marry Constance’s former governess, Mary Drew Pratt with whom he had a further five children – including the murder victim, Francis Saville Kent.
Constance had an intense dislike for her stepmother due to her mistreatment of her Mother – it is thought that her father had not waited for the death of his first wife before bedding his later second wife and that the second Mrs Kent was verbally condemning of the first Mrs Kent. It is also considered that both her father and stepmother showed a preference for the younger, second Mrs Kent’s children.
On the night of June 29th 1860, four year old Francis was removed from his bedroom and later found wrapped in his nightshirt and blanket down the outdoor toilet, with several stab wounds to his chest and hands and his throat slit to the point of almost being decapitated.
Cue the perplexing whodunnit situation – it must have been someone within the family home, but who, when, why and how?
The Police attempted a conviction on the boy’s nursemaid (and Mr Saville Kent’s lover), Elizabeth Gough, who had been sleeping in the same room as young Francis – she was arrested twice but released without charge.  On July 16th Constance was arrested, “but released without trial owing to public opinion against the accusations of a working class detective against a young lady of breeding” (Road Hill House Murder by Susanne Ross). The case collapsed and the family moved to Wrexham in North Wales, sending Constance off to a French finishing school in the process.
However, five years later, Constance confessed to the murder, claiming that it was an act of revenge against her stepmother and served 20 years in prison.
Many suspect that Constance was not guilty, but acting as a shield for someone else. Some suspect that the murderer was in fact her father, who after being interrupted in his coitus with the nursemaid, killed the child in a fit of rage. Others suspect it was to cover for her beloved brother, William Saville Kent – with whom she had a close sibling relationship, and lived with in Tasmania following her release from prison.

So whodunnit? We will never know…

References for images:
1. http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1900368_1900369_1900364,00.html
2. https://www.cannockchasedc.gov.uk/custom/HeritageTrail/rugeley_town.html
3. http://murderpedia.org/female.K/k/kent-constance-photos.htm

 

It’s October! :D

My favourite time of year!!

To celebrate, this month will have several themed blog posts, activities and even words of the day!

Upcoming Halloween themed blog posts include:

  • Halloween Idioms
  • Jack the Ripper & The Victorian Detective
  • Film, TV, book and song recommendations
  • British Murders

Halloween themed ‘Word of the Day’: Monday 30th October – Sunday 5th November

Halloween themed activities will be added throughout the month, including:

  • Which Witch?
  • Pumpkin Adjectives
  • Vampire Quiz

Watch this space! 😀

 

British English TV/film/book recommendations + fluency tips!

In a previous blog post, I discussed the differences between British and American English and recommended some TV shows and films which were great for British English language learners.

Read it here:  https://graceenglishlanguageteaching.wordpress.com/2017/09/22/british-v-american-english/

In addition to recommended watch and read lists – here are some additional tips for fluency!

YouTube videos: Short clips, up to 10 mins long
For: Beginners
What to look for: Neutral British accents with a slow speaking speed – check out my FREE Google Classroom for some which I have already found + tasks to go with them (for help on how to access this see:  https://graceenglishlanguageteaching.wordpress.com/tech-support/ )
Fluency tips: Listen to the whole video without stopping. Do not stop and start on words you’re unsure of. If you are finding the video too fast, use the settings to slow the speed:
Youtube SettingsI recommend reducing the speed to 0.75.
Once you’re more confident with hearing the words at 0.75, turn it back up to ‘normal’, and listen again! 🙂

 

TV Shows: Episodes between 20mins and 60mins in length.
For: Intermediate
What to look for: Generally filmed in England, with English actors. The language will be faster in TV shows than YouTube clips.
Fluency tips: Listen to a whole episode without stopping. Do not stop and start on words you’re unsure of. Try to get an idea of what is happening, see if you can understand the story of the episode. Watch as many times as you need to and see if you can work out all of the key plot points. Ideally discuss with other learners or native speakers.
Recommendation list: 

  • Jeeves and Wooster (comedy)
  • Black Adder (comedy)
  • The Paradise (drama)
  • Goodnight Sweetheart (comedy-drama)
  • Open All Hours (comedy)
  • Time Team (history/documentary)
  • Midsummer Murders (detective drama)
  • Victorian Farm (history/documentary)
  • Edwardian Farm (history/documentary)
  • Tudor Farm (history/documentary)
  • Lucy Worsley shows, any (history/documentary)
  • Brian Cox shows, any (astronomy/documentary)

 

Films: I would aim for 1.5 to 2 hours in length, leave the 3hours + sagas for later!
For: Advanced
What to look for: Generally filmed in England, with English actors.
Fluency tips: Watch the film all the way through, without stopping to go over particular words or phrases. Watch as many times as you need to and see if you can work out all of the key plot points and make notes of any words or phrases which you’re not sure about.  Ideally discuss with other learners or native speakers.
Recommendation list: 

  • The Kings Speech (historical drama)
  • Love Actually (Christmas-themed romantic comedy)
  • Brief Encounter (romantic drama)
  • Hot Fuzz (parody/mystery)
  • Shaun of the Dead (comedy horror)
  • The Hogfather (fantasy thriller)
  • Great Expectations (romantic drama)
  • The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (comedy drama)
  • Carry On, any (comedy)

 

Books: For learners who are feeling more confident with their reading and want to give an English novel a go, I have some recommendations below.
Fluency tips: Do not stop to translate each word you do not understand while you are reading, underline the word with a pencil if you wish to come back to it, but keep going! At the end of each chapter – have a think about what happened, did you follow the main plot points? Make a guess for the meaning of each unknown word, then see if you were correct using your dictionary. HOWEVER, if you’re happily reading and don’t want to stop after each chapter – don’t! See if you can figure out the words you didn’t recognise at the end 🙂
Recommendation list:

  • ‘My Brother is a Superhero’ by David Solomons
  • ‘The Twits’ by Roald Dahl (to be honest, ANY Roald Dahl is fine – this one just happens to be my personal favourite!)
  • ‘The House That Sailed Away’ by Pat Hutchins
  • ‘The Worst Witch’ by Jill Murphy
  • ‘The Firework Maker’s Daughter’ by Philip Pullman
  • ‘Cliffhanger’ by Jacqueline Wilson
  • Any of ‘The Magicians Series’ by William Corlett – the first one is ‘Steps Up the Chimney’
  • ‘The Time-Travelling Cat’ by Julia Jarman

If you have read these, or fancy something different, start with books recommended for native English speakers aged 8 to 9 years, then work your way up to young adult.

Happy watching and reading! 😀

 

British v American English

I have had a few students come to me and explicitly state a preference for learning British English over American English. In my experience, the desire to know one over the other depends mostly on where a student is, or wishes to be, living and/or a requirement from their job to deal with companies in one country more often than the other. In some cases it comes down to geography, but even then, most of the time it is due to which country they are required to deal with the most at work.

Being a native British English speaker, all of my resources (in terms of language and spelling), lessons, blog posts and so on, are in British English.

This blog post will briefly outline the differences between British and American English. It will also give those wishing to concentrate their learning on British English, some TV shows and films which may assist in their listening and comprehension.

So, what is the difference? Surely they’re both English, right?

The main difference between the two forms of English is vocabulary. Many words, although existing in both, have completely different meanings in each. For example;

PANTS
American English: One’s trousers
British English: One’s underwear

A mistake here, could already be sending a conversation off track.. No one wants to walk into a business meeting in London, and accidentally compliment their new boss on their choice of underwear… Not to mention the fact that British English also uses ‘pants’ to express a dissatisfaction in an item or experience – “that movie was pants, what a waste of time and money”.

It becomes very easy to see how learning one when you require the other, can lead to some interesting (and potentially embarrassing) conversations!

Here is a short list of other examples:

SUSPENDERS
American English: A device for holding up one’s trousers
British English: A device for holding up lady’s stockings

BANGER
American English: A type of firework
British English: An informal term for a sausage

FLAT
American English: A level, smooth, single leveled structure
British English: A self contained housing unit, often in blocks of multiple dwellings

LOUNGE
American English: A room for relaxation in a public place
British English: A room for relaxation and entertainment, within one’s own home

JUMPER
American English: A person leaping from a building as an act of suicide
British English: A warm item of clothing, worn during winter

CHIPS
American English: A wafer thin slice of potato, baked or fried, eaten as a snack
British English: A long, rectangular piece of deep-fried potato, eaten as part of a meal

On a further note r.e. chips – I unexpectedly found the perfect example of this while watching a British TV show. During the show, a wedding for a British couple was arranged in America. The groom requested the classic British dish ‘fish and chips’ to be served at their wedding reception. However, being American, the restaurant proceed to serve fried fish with salt & vinegar flavoured crisps on the side!

Okay, so some words mean different things – that’s it, right?

Well, no. Unfortunately not. On top of the fact that some things have entirely different words attributed to them across the two forms of English, some words are the same! They are even spelled the same! But they are pronounced in an entirely different way… For example:

ADVERTISEMENT: A notice in a public medium, to promote a product or service
British English pronunciation: Ad-vert-is-ment
American English pronunciation: Ad-ver-tise-ment

HERB: A plant with leaves, herbs or seeds which are used to flavour food
British English pronunciation: H-er-b
American English pronunciation: err-b

BROCHURE: A small book or magazine containing promotional images and information
British English pronunciation: Bro-sher
American English pronunciation: Bro-shure

But wait, sometimes the word is the same in terms of meaning and pronunciation!

…However, the spelling is different! For example:

British English: COLOUR
American English: COLOR

British English: FLAVOUR
American English: FLAVOR

British English: HUMOUR
American English: HUMOR

British English: TRAVELLED
American English: TRAVELED

British English: ORGANISE
American English: ORGANIZE

British English: ANALYSE
American English: ANALYZE

British English: CATALOGUE
American English: CATALOG

British English: CENTRE
American English: CENTER

And many more!… Theses differences are mainly due to the 20th Century American dictionary pioneer, Noah Webster, who wanted to ensure an American independence from England. Webster created the first American dictionary, simplifying many spellings and altering the spellings of other words. Some of his changes, such as dropping the ‘b’ from thumb and spelling women as ‘wimmen’, didn’t stick, but many did. Whereas, British English kept the spellings which it had absorbed from other languages, such as French and German.

Okay, so there’s some different meanings, some different pronunciations, some different spellings, that MUST be all?

Nope! In some cases, the words for a certain thing in the two forms of English are just completely different! For example, it took me a long time to discover that when a chef on an American cookery show referred to ‘cilantro’, they were referring to what in England we call ‘coriander’…

A few further examples are:

Aubergine[1]
British English: Aubergine
American English: Eggplant

cot[2]
British English: Cot
American English: Crib

Image result for courgette[3]
British English: Courgette
American English: Zucchini

dummy[4]
British English: A (baby’s) dummy
American English: A pacifier

Image result for football[5]
British English: Football
American English: Soccer

You get the idea! And even some of the American English words in these situations, such as pacifier, are also used in British English – they just have a different meaning. In British English, a pacifier is a person or thing which pacifies a certain thing or person – so we’d say, ”pass them their dummy, that will pacify them for now”.

So you have…

  • Words, which are in both British and American English, but mean an entirely different object in each.
  • Words which are in both forms of English, are spelled the same, mean the same objects, but are pronounced in entirely different ways.
  • Objects which exist in both cultures, but have completely different names.

Hopefully, this has elaborated some of the differences between the two forms of the English language!

Still want to concentrate on British English?

If you’re still interested in improving your British English, then I recommend the following TV shows and films – they have mainly British casts and the actors have neutral accents. (Please check that the age rating is suitable for those watching, before settling down to watch any of my recommendations!)

TV shows:

  • Jeeves and Wooster (comedy)
  • Black Adder (comedy)
  • The Paradise (drama)
  • Goodnight Sweetheart (comedy-drama)
  • Open All Hours (comedy)
  • Time Team (history/documentary)
  • Midsummer Murders (detective drama)
  • Victorian Farm (history/documentary)
  • Edwardian Farm (history/documentary)
  • Tudor Farm (history/documentary)
  • Lucy Worsley shows, any (history/documentary)
  • Brian Cox shows, any (astronomy/documentary)

Films:

  • The Kings Speech (historical drama)
  • Love Actually (Christmas-themed romantic comedy)
  • Brief Encounter (romantic drama)
  • Hot Fuzz (parody/mystery)
  • Shaun of the Dead (comedy horror)
  • The Hogfather (fantasy thriller)
  • Great Expectations (romantic drama)
  • The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (comedy drama)
  • Carry On, any (comedy)

 

References for images:
[1] https://www.seedsforafrica.co.za/products/black-beauty-eggfruit-organic-heirloom-vegetable-100-seeds
[2] http://www.kiddicare.com/c/Cots.htm
[3] https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/grow-your-own-courgettes
[4] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3194442/How-cure-four-year-old-s-addiction-dummy-Harper-Beckham-photographed-one-mouth-JILL-FOSTER-speaks-mums-children-use-soother-past-age-one.html
[5] http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/national-league