Potayto, potahto?

Are British and American English the same?

The short answer? Absolutely not! In fact, there are plenty of differences.

But more about this later. Let’s start with some practical info about when to choose the one or the other standard.

According to the language policy of Aarhus BSS, the school uses British English as standard in official letters, brochures, web texts, etc. Research publications and other knowledge sharing must comply with the formal requirements (including choice of British or American English standard) made by the publishers/contracting authority.

As stated above, there are many differences between British and American English, among those are differences in the terminology of the two standards (e.g., lift (UK)/elevator (US)). However, in this context, we have chosen to highlight some typical differences in spelling and use of commas.



Use of commas 

In American English, a comma is inserted before the last conjunction (and/or) in a series of three or more items. This is called ‘the serial comma’ or ‘the Oxford comma’:

  • She bought apples, oranges, and passionfruit.
  • She had to choose between going to the museum, the opera, or the cinema.

As a main rule, the last comma is omitted in British English:

  • She loved to watch Game of Thrones, The Handmaid’s Tale and Sharp Objects on HBO.

Contrary to British English, a comma is also inserted after ‘e.g.’ and ‘i.e.’ in American English.


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