Grammar American vs. British English: Grammar |
The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

American vs. British English: Grammar

We hope you’re enjoying our exploration of American and British English as much as we are. So far we’ve considered variations in spelling and vocabulary between the dialects. Our review continues with a closer look at American and Commonwealth grammar.


Different phrasing involving prepositions between American and British English may not be as pronounced as it once was, particularly as the cultures continue to influence each other. However, when listening to one another from each side of the pond, we might still hear expressions such as:

U.S. U.K.
Are you going to the mall on the weekend? Are you going to the mall at the weekend?
Greg must go to the hospital. Greg must go to hospital.
Greg is in the hospital. Greg is in hospital.
We’ll be open Monday through Friday. We’ll be open Monday to Friday.
She is different from/than the others. She is different from/to the others.
Henry gets along* well with Henrietta. Henry gets on* well with Henrietta.
*In this usage, the preposition is included with the main verb to form a verb phrase; as such, it is a verb particle.

In addition, as we identify in spelling, the U.K. uses the preposition towards where the U.S. often drops the s (toward).

We might also hear similarities between phrases that include a preposition, such as how we refer to our time for rest and relaxation: This summer we are going on vacation (U.S.); This summer we are going on holiday (U.K).

Verb Number

American and British English can differ in whether they use a singular or a plural verb with a collective noun. In Commonwealth English, collective nouns might take a singular verb in some cases, but most will accompany a plural verb to emphasize the members of the collective. Conversely, American English will more often pair such nouns with singular verbs to stress a single entity.

U.K.: The committee are discussing the proposal.
U.S.: The committee is discussing the proposal.

U.K.: The blue team are winning.
U.S.: The blue team is winning.

U.K.: The rock band are on tour.
U.S.: The rock band is on tour.


10 June 2020: Most of us who are stateside have seen the format before and probably been thrown off by it at least once. The U.K. presents dates as day month year without punctuation, where the U.S. presents them as month day, year (with punctuation).

The U.K.’s date format is the same as that used throughout much of Europe. Some European countries also use year month day without punctuation (2020 June 10).

We conclude our current series on American and British English with a discussion of punctuation.

If the article or the existing discussions do not address a thought or question you have on the subject, please use the "Comment" box at the bottom of this page.

7 responses to “American vs. British English: Grammar”

  1. Brian Thompson says:

    As an ex-pat Brit that lives in America I see all grammar variations, but I was taught in England that team/committee/rock band would be singular. However many people have forgotten/never knew/cannot be bothered to get it correct – probably much the same as Americans.

  2. Brenda R says:

    How interesting; I tend to use the European format [year month day without punctuation (2020 June 10)], but as 2020 0610 when storing computer documents by date. This way, everything comes up in chronological order, making it easier to find things. Then again, I tend to insist on using a 24-hour clock, since being confused after waking from a nap and unable to determine whether it’s before dawn or after sunset, especially in winter.

  3. Stephen AuBuchon says:

    The US military uses the English format, i.e., 6 June 1944. If the month is abbreviated, then so is the year, i.e., 6 Jun 44. And we don’t use periods in the abbreviation for “United States.” It might be interesting to have a column on military composition practices. Each service has its own writing manual.

    • Thank you for the information and the suggestion for a future article. Although we prefer U.S. vs. US to avoid misunderstandings, leading reference manuals differ in their approaches. You’re on solid ground as long as you’re consistent.

  4. Jackie Sommerville says:

    Interesting that you have said the following:
    U.K.: The committee are discussing the proposal.
    U.S.: The committee is discussing the proposal.

    U.K.: The blue team are winning.
    U.S.: The blue team is winning.

    U.K.: The rock band are on tour.
    U.S.: The rock band is on tour.

    I was taught (private school education!) that committee, team and band are collective nouns and should therefore use the singular verb! I am from New Zealand.

    • Thank you for that information, Jackie. Apparently, Australia resembles U.S. rather than U.K. usage in the area of collective nouns. And we assume New Zealand resembles Australian usage.

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