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1. Grammar and Spelling
2. Punctuation
3. Measurements and Abbreviations
4. Hyphenation
5. Miscellaneous Peculiarities
6. Geographic Distribution

Section One – Grammar and Spelling

1. Gender: There is no gender distinction for nouns/adjectives.

2. Articles: The indefinite article is “A” and the definite article is “The”.

3. Accents: Accents do not appear in American English.

4. Plural: The plural form can be recognised by the addition of “s” or “es”.

Section Two – Punctuation

1. Speech marks: The norm in American (and British) English is to use the curly speech marks, i.e. “ and ”.


1. “Give me more work!”, shouted Chloe.
2. “Would anyone like some tea?” asked George.
3. “I’m bored – can I go home now?”, Michala said.

2. Apostrophe: Apostrophes are used either to show possession, or where a word has been contracted, i.e. cannot => can’t.

3. Brackets: Brackets are used to give explanation for the proceeding phrase. Usually the first word is not capitalized, but punctuation is the same as it is outside brackets.

4. Capitalisation: Capitalisation is used similarly to the way in which it is used in British English. Thus, names of days/seasons/months should all be capitalised, along with the initial letter when beginning a sentence.

Section Three – Measurements and Abbreviations

1. Measurements: Imperial, except for weight (i.e. pounds not stone; hands not used for length).

Time: 10:30 AM, 12 noon or 12 PM, 12 midnight or 12 AM. No military time is used except in certain sectors like the military and manufacturing (especially when they run 3 shifts around the clock).

Date: the format is as follows:
20 February 2004: February 20, 2004
th February 2004: February 20th, 2004
20/02/2004: 2/20/04
February 20: same

A decimal point is used in American English. A comma is used to separate thousands, in numbers with four digits or more.

There is usually no space between a figure and a percentage sign (%). It is more common not to have a space before the °C sign, but both are acceptable.

Currency: different quantities of US dollars would be written as follows:


2. Abbreviations:

N/a = same
No. (nos.) = same and sometimes # is used for abbreviation
e.g. = same
WxLxHxD = same but with a space between letters
st / 2nd / 3rd / 4th = same
Mr. / Mrs. = same
Messrs. = Mr.
Miss = same, but Ms. is used quite a bit
Dear Sir / Madam = same
m (for metre)
cm (for centimetre)
lb (for pound weight) = same, but when describing paper weight, use # as
70# paper
g (for gram)
km (for kilometre)
yr (for year) = same
k (for 1000) = same
EMEA (Europe, Middle-East & Asia) = same

Days of the week: Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun = same

Months: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec = same, but we don’t usually abbreviate June, and Sep is usually Sept.

Seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter (not normally abbreviated in English) = same, but Fall may be used instead of Autumn.

One common abbreviation which may look odd to non-native speakers would be #. This is called the pound sign and depending on where it is used in the document it means different things.

In a Press Release it means the end—usually you will see ### With a number in front it means weight as in 70# paper It is also used to denote abbreviation for number.

Section Four – Hyphenation

Hyphens are used to link two words together, as in “life-giving”. They are also used when words are split over lines – they are split according to syllables.

Some prefixes which are joined to words with a hyphen exist in American English, i.e. re-organize.

Both short ‘N’ dashes (–), and longer ‘M’ dashes (—) are used.

Section Five – Miscellaneous Peculiarities

The word ‘turnover’ does not mean revenue in the US, it actually means number of people in and out of jobs at the company. Therefore it usually has a negative connotation.

The spellings of certain words differ between American English and British English:

· color (US) vs. colour, catalog (US) vs. catalogue - basically take out the u!

· use z when British English would use an s. i.e. localize

· center (US) vs. centre, meter (US) vs. metre (length measurement)

Section Six – Geographic Distribution

English (US) is spoken/used in the following countries:

Antarctica, Antigua, Aruba (Dutch), Ascension Island, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize (British Honduras), Diego Garcia (U.K. & U.S.), Dominica, Galapagos Islands (Ecuador), Gaza Strip, Grand Caymans (U.K.), Grenada, Guam (U.S.), Guyana, Hawaii (U.S. State), Israel, Jamaica, Javis Island, Johnston Atoll, Kiribati (Republic of), Liberia, Micronesia, Midway Islands, Nauru, Nevis, Nikumaroro (Gardener Island), Niue (New Zealand), Northern Mariana Islands (U.S.), Palau (Republic of), Philippines, Puerto Rico (U.S.), Solomon Islands, St. Kitts (& Nevis) Independent, St. Lucia, Trinidad & Tobago, Tuvalu, United States of America, Virgin Islands (U.S.), Wake Island, West Bank, Western Samoa, Zaire.

Language Family
Family: Germanic

Source: - Copyright © Kenneth Katzner, The Languages of the World, Published by Routledge.



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