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Regional, social, or contextual differences in the
ways that a particularlanguageis used.
It is studied by sociolinguistics: social factors
No two individuals speak identically:
Different variations: speakers age, gender,
ethnicity and social and educational background.
All aspects of language
(phonemes,morphemes, syntactic structures,
andmeanings) are subject to variation. age


has changed over the last 1000 years

Reasons: social or political pressures, such as invasion,

colonization and immigration.


New terms / new grammatical structures

Lexical Variation
BrE and AmE speakers familiarize with each other's
regional words and terms

The use of a British word would be acceptable in AmE

(and vice versa)

A British speaker: chapormateto refer to a friend =

an American using the Spanish wordamigo


and phrases that have their origins in BrE and an

American would understand
Driving licence
Naff (slang but

commonly used to mean "not very

good") are unheard of in American English.

Words and phrases that have their origins in AmE

and a British person would understand:

sidewalk (pavement)

gas (gasoline/petrol)
counterclockwise" (anticlockwise)
elevator (lift): (exposure to American culture and
Certain terms that are heard less frequently,
especially those likely to be absent or rare in American
popular culture, e.g. "copacetic (satisfactory)

Words and phrases with different meanings.

in AmE a bill is usually paper money (as in "dollar
bill") though it can mean the same as in BrE, an invoice
(as in "the repair bill was 250").
in AmE a biscuit is what in BrE is called a scone.
in BrE a biscuit is what AmE calls a cookie.
in BrE refers toAssociation football
in AmE, "football" meansAmerican football.
in BrE refers tofield hockeyand in AmE, "hockey"
meansice hockey.

Grammatical Variation
Grammar is the structure of a language or dialect.
Grammatical variation: differences in the structure
of words, phrases or sentences
It describes the way individual words change their
It also refers to the way words are combined to form
phrases or sentences.
She were wearing a mask: ungrammatical,
but acceptable (Northern England and the
I were,you were, he,sheandit were,we
wereandthey were.: verb isunmarked for
I was,you was,he,sheandit was,we
wasand they was. (Some dialects in the South
East of England)

There is no wrong and right


correct or incorrect grammar: standard andnonstandardgrammar

Standard English: prestigious form (people in
positions of authority)

differences between
American and British English.
1. Verbagreementwith collective nouns:
My team is winning.

2. Use ofdelexicalverbs have and take

She's having a little nap.
Joe's taking a shower.

3. Use ofauxiliariesand
A: Are you coming with us?
B: I might do.



American English, do is not used in this way, e.g.:

A: Are you coming with us?
B: I might.

British English needn't is often used instead of don't

need to, e.g.:
They needn't come to school today.

4. Use ofprepositions

British English, at is used with many time

expressions, e.g.:
at Christmas/five 'o' clock
at the weekend
In American English, on is always used when talking
about the weekend, not at, e.g.:
Will they still be there on the weekend?
She'll be coming home on weekends.

5.Pasttense forms

Implicationsfor teaching

be aware of the differences between BrE / AmE

lexical differences are the easiest ones to notice
a knowledge of grammatical and phonological differences
can be useful

Which is better?
different doesnt mean wrong: American English is
inferior to British English, or American English is better
than British English : no solid basis other than the
speakers opinion.
The truth is that no language or regional variety of
language is better or worse than another. They are just

Materials and varieties


English speaker /British coursebook or vice


and essay writing: both varieties of English are


varieties of English in the classroom

Scotland, Ireland, South Asia, Canada, Australia, New

Zealand, West Africa, the Caribbean, South Africa : their
own regional variations of English.