Differences Between UK English and US English – Part II – Abbreviations, Acronyms, and Punctuations

Differences Between UK English and US English – Part II – Abbreviations, Acronyms, and Punctuations
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In the first part of this article, we talked about the spelling differences between the UK and US styles of English. Now that you already have an idea of how the British and American variants of the English language differ in terms of spellings, let us move forward and dig into some other aspects too.

2. Abbreviations and Acronyms

Contractions, where the final letters are present, do not require full stops at the end in the UK English, e.g., “Dr“. “Mr“, “Mrs“, “St“, etc. But in US English, these abbreviations do require full stops. So the US variants of the same words are “Dr.“, “Mr.“, “Mrs.“, “St.“, etc. respectively. However, the abbreviations where the final letters are not present, require the use of full stops in both the British and American styles of English, e.g., “vol.“, “etc.“, “i.e.

Acronyms that are pronounced as single words are written in title case by the British writers, but in upper case by the Americans, e.g., NASA/Nasa and UNESCO/Unesco in British/American English. Abbreviations that are pronounced as individual letters are always written in the upper case, for example, ITC, IBM, US, UK, etc.

3. Punctuations

First of all, the Britishers finish their sentences with a full stop, while the Americans call it the period.

Next up, the major punctuation difference is the usage of double inverted commas. Even though the general convention is to place punctuation marks inside the quotation marks, the British style prefers to place the punctuations as per the sense. So, in British English, the punctuation marks will appear inside the quotation marks only if they were present in the original. It is common in British English to place the full stop outside of the ending quotation marks if the quoted part is a full sentence and ends at the same place as the main sentence.

4. Same Words but Different Meanings

The British and Americans also make use of some words in totally different ways. Sometimes, they mean the exact opposite of each other by the same word. Take, for instance, “Moot Point“, which refers to something that is debatable in the UK, but completely irrelevant in the US.

Another classic example is the usage of “Quite“. To the British, quite may mean somewhat, while to an American, quite means very. So, if you ask both of them “How was the movie?” and they reply “Quite good!”, infer that the British person only liked the movie a bit, while the American found it a very good watch.

Ever asked for a “rubber” from someone randomly?

If you are a British and asking for rubber, you certainly mean an eraser by it. But to an American, rubber means condom. So asking for rubber would be an altogether different scenario in the US.


Other than these words that have different meanings in both the styles of English, there are many things that have different names in UK and US English. Our third part of the article talks about those. Don’t forget to subscribe if you want to get notified about the release of the next part.

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