Updated: Nov 15, 2021
When it comes to English-speaking countries, a lot of people think that Americans and Brits are all the same. We have different accents, but basically culturally we’re very similar.
Well, I’m here today to tell you that it’s definitely not true! I'll show you a few of the most important differences between the USA and the UK, the two most commonly compared English-speaking countries.
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So what is basically the same?
We’ll have a look at some similarities first, and I’ll start with the language. Obviously, sharing the English language means that we can communicate easily with each other, and share TV, movies and music culture. Lots of singers, shows ands actors cross over, and basically the market looks very similar in terms of the most popular people.
There’s often US versions of British shows like The Office, although the humour is a little different. British humour mostly relies on sarcasm, awkward moments, and misunderstandings. US humour can often be a bit more slapstick, silly and be a bit less subtle in general.
The music scene definitely crosses over, with major artists being popular in both countries, although there’s plenty of genres, like British Grime, or American Country and Western that typically are only enjoyed by people from the respective countries. Check out the song below, and you'll hear just how much Riley Green loves his truck! This song is very, very, very American.
We eat a lot of the same food, but there are still 1000’s of American products that we don’t have, mostly the candy, packaged foods, sugary things, fizzy drinks and generally less healthy end of the food spectrum.
Difference No.1 – Guns and murder
One of the biggest differences from a legal view, is that in 44 states out of 50, you can legally carry a gun with you in some way. All the police have guns (in the UK, only the Armed Police carry guns, and they get called specially to deal with certain incidents). US police seem quite happy to pull their pistols out and threaten people with them, and even use them in non-life threatening situations.
Spanish police also carry guns, but there seems to be a much higher barrier to them using them, or even thinking about using them. I’ve never seen a Spanish policeman take out his pistol during a traffic stop, a normal interaction, or even a typical arrest.
British police carry pepper spray and bats, but no guns. It makes it much easier to feel comfortable with the British police around, and much harder for them to abuse their power or make deadly mistakes that kill innocent people. Connected to that, we also don’t have the death penalty, and the USA executed 22 people in 2019, and 17 people in 2020!
The USA is also one of the most dangerous ‘developed’ countries in the world, with 15,498 murders in 2018, 16,425 in 2019 and 21,570 in 2020. The real worry is that it’s increasing again! 2020 was the biggest increase in murders year on year for more than 60 years. A 30% increase in murders in one year! COVID-19 has hit the USA very hard it seems!
Check out part 2 next week, where I’ll talk about tea and coffee (the eternal debate), as well as how direct and polite both nations can be.