American English – often abbreviated to AmE – is a variant of the English language, spoken mainly in the United States. About two-thirds of the world’s native speakers of English live in America and speak this variant.
English was introduced to North America by British settlers during the colonization period (17th century). It was also influenced by the many different nationalities which settled in the US since then and, to a certain extent, by the languages spoken by the Native American population.
These days American English is one of the main varieties of English taught around the world (along with British English). Different countries – due to historical and political influence – often have a preference for one or the other. However for English teachers there is very little to choose between the two. It is not difficult for an American teacher to teach British English and vice versa, for example.
American English vs British English
The most obvious differences between American English and British English (BrE) are in pronunciation and vocabulary although there are also a few differences in grammar.
For a list of major differences see Varieties of English Grammar and Varieties of English Vocabulary.
Unlike most British English accents, American English is generally rhotic, that is it the letter r is pronounced in all positions of a word. As an example take the word butter. In British English this is likely to be said as:
Whilst in American English it’s likely to be said as:
There are, of course, a number of other differences. In the example above you can see also that in American English a /d/ sound is often used where British English uses a /t/ sound:
This leads to situations where some American students will write about their personal tudor instead of their personal tutor, for example.