Tell an American to “look under the bonnet” and you’re bound to get a perplexed look. That’s because when it comes to cars, a bonnet is to a Briton what a hood is to an American. Here’s a glimpse at some of the differences between American English (AmE) and British English (BrE) – and the reason they matter.

1. Vocabulary

In business, U.S corporations measure their growth in revenue or sales, but in Britain this is known as turnover. When Americans apply for a job, they send a résumé, while Britons forward their CV. In politics, U.S. candidates run for office, while their British counterparts stand for election.

Let’s say you’re drafting a leaflet for a weight loss product. Wouldn’t it be useful to know that Britons express their body weight in stone, while Americans use pounds?

2. Spelling

Spelling also differs from one country to the other. Here are a few noteworthy variations:

British English American English
Colour Color
Caesarean Cesarean
Maximise Maximize
Programme Program
Aeroplane Airplane

3. Grammar

Without getting too technical, let’s point out that collective nouns, such as team and army, can take a singular or plural verb in BrE, but generally take a singular verb in AmE. Preposition use also varies. For instance, we’d be more likely to hear on the weekend in the U.S., but at the weekend in Britain.

When doing business in a globalized economy, it’s important to get a handle on language-related differences. So before producing that brochure, sales pitch or ad campaign, get to know your target market – or better yet, have a language professional edit your content. After all, it could spell the difference between success and failure!