British English – American English: Prepositions (grammar)

Prepositions

Image credit: Mode de Vie Software, “Prepositions” December 6, 2010, via Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Dear All,
This post compares BrE and AmE use of prepositions and discusses some other relevant differences between these two language varieties.

I would like to start with prepositions. Prepositions are short words which serve to indicate relations between words in a sentence including relationships of a part to the whole (e.g. the antenna of the TV-set, a page of a book), location (e.g. in/under/on/above the table), a manner of doing something (e.g. with a hammer, without oil, by bus, on foot), time (e.g. at 5, in the morning, till nigh, from Monday to Friday).

Below is the table that compares some of the key differences between the use of prepositions in BrE and AmE:

BrE

AmE*

to cater for smb** to cater smb
to write to smb to write smb
to play in a team to play on a team
to enrol on a course to enroll in a course
at the weekend on/during/over the weekend
to chat/speak/talk to to chat/speak/talk with/to
different from/to different from/than
opportunity to do/of doing smth opportunity to do smth
to call/ring on (123)-123-1234 to call at (123)-123-1234
to fill in a form to fill out a form (BUT: to fill in a blank)
rained off (cancelled due to rain) rained out
from Sunday/Monday/etc. starting on Sunday/Monday/etc.

Here are a few examples of these prepositions in within a sentence:

BrE: I will write to her when I come back, God willing.
Am: I will write her when I come back, God willing.

BrE: You can call me on (123)-123-1234.
AmE: You can call me at (123)-123-1234.

BrE: The exhibition is open from Tuesday.
AmE: The exhibition is open starting on Tuesday.

Another interesting peculiarity which is not mentioned in the table above is the use of the preposition “with” after the verb “to meet”. In BrE, “to meet smb” can mean at least two things: 1) ‘to run into smb’ and 2) ‘to see somebody for the purpose of discussing smth’. In AmE, “to meet smb” means ‘to run into smb’, whereas “to meet with smb” means ‘to see somebody for the purpose of discussion’. For example:

BrE: The President met the Prime Minister yesterday evening.
AmE: The President met with the Prime Minister yesterday evening.

There are also some other grammatical differences between BrE and AmE besides the use of prepositions discussed above. In BrE, it is common to use “as well” or “too” at the end of a sentence to indicate likeness. In AmE, it is common to use “also” for the same purpose and in the same position; “as well” is considered to be rather formal in AmE. For instance:

BrE: I love this kind of apples as well.
AmE: I love this kind of apples also.

BrE prefers the full form of the suffix “-wards”, while AmE prefers its abridged form: “-ward“: afterwards – afterward, forwards – forward, towards – toward, etc.

Finally, there is a difference in the singular/plural use of nouns in the attributive function: what is used in the singular in BrE can be used in the plural in AmE and vice versa. For instance:

BrE: Daniel tries to attend all the maths classes in order to get better at it.
AmE: Daniel tries to attend all the math classes in order to get better at it.

BrE: Have you already read the sport section of the newspaper?
AmE: Have you already read the sports section of the newspaper?

In summary, this post has discussed some of the key grammatical differences between BrE and AmE. Specifically, it has focused on the use of prepositions and some other differences. This post concludes the series of articles devoted to the exploration of peculiar features of BrE and AmE which have been explored in relation to such linguistic aspects as: pronunciation, spelling, vocabulary, and grammar. However, these language varieties continue to live and evolve. Therefore, if you come across any interesting features pertinent to any of the aspects discussed above, please do not hesitate to share them on BLOG|ON|LINGUISTICS.

See similar posts:

  1. British English – American English: Pronunciation
  2. British English – American English: Spelling
  3. British English – American English: Education (vocabulary)
  4. British English – American English: Transportation (vocabulary)
  5. British English – American English: Clothes (vocabulary)
  6. British English – American English: Food (vocabulary)
  7. British English – American English: Miscellaneous (vocabulary)
  8. British English – American English: Units of measurement (vocabulary)
  9. British English – American English: Idioms (vocabulary)
  10. British English – American English: Verbs (grammar)
  11. British English – American English: Nouns (grammar)

References
ABBYY Lingvo (2014). Retrieved April 10, 2014 from, http://www.lingvo-online.ru/en
Cambridge Dictionaries Online (CDO) (2014). Retrieved April 10, 2014 from, http://dictionary.cambridge.org/
Creamer, R.W., Dahmen, G.D., Davidson, M.B., Davies, R., Debakey, L., Deloria, V., Jr. et al.(Eds.)  (1996). The American Heritage Book of English Usage: A Practical and Authoritative Guide to Contemporary English. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Merriam-Webster (MW) (2014). Retrieved April 10, 2014, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/
Oxford Dictionaries (OD) (2014). Retrieved April 10, 2014, from http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/

* Bold type is used for AmE words.
** The following sources have been consulted here and further in this post: Creamer et al., 1996; ABBY Lingvo, 2014; CDO, 2014; MW, 2014; OD, 2014. Please note that “smb” stands for ‘somebody’ and “smth” stands for ‘something’.

Iaroslav

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    1. British English – American English: Nouns (grammar) | BLOG|ON|LINGUISTICS
    2. British English – American English: Verbs (grammar) | BLOG|ON|LINGUISTICS
    3. British English – American English: Pronunciation | BLOG|ON|LINGUISTICS
    4. British English – American English: Spelling | BLOG|ON|LINGUISTICS
    5. British English – American English: Education (vocabulary) | BLOG|ON|LINGUISTICS
    6. British English – American English: Transportation (vocabulary) | BLOG|ON|LINGUISTICS
    7. British English – American English: Clothes (vocabulary) | BLOG|ON|LINGUISTICS
    8. British English – American English: Food (vocabulary) | BLOG|ON|LINGUISTICS
    9. British English – American English: Nouns (grammar) | BLOG|ON|LINGUISTICS
    10. British English – American English: Verbs (grammar) | BLOG|ON|LINGUISTICS
    11. British English – American English: Units of measurement (vocabulary) | BLOG|ON|LINGUISTICS
    12. British English – American English: Idioms (vocabulary) | BLOG|ON|LINGUISTICS
    13. British English – American English: Miscellaneous (vocabulary) | BLOG|ON|LINGUISTICS

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