Standard English

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Standard English refers to a form of the English language considered by some people as the ideal use of language for educated native speakers. It encompasses grammar, vocabulary, spelling, and to some degree pronunciation.

Unlike some other languages, English does not have a body such as the Real Academia Española or the Académie française to establish usage and there are therefore no official rules for "Standard English".

Although originating in England, English is now spoken as a first language in many countries of the world, each of which has developed its own "national standards". On the other hand, as English has become the most widely used second language,[1] it is also subject to alteration by non-native speakers.


As with many other languages, there are many grammatical variations in the many local dialects of English, but in formal written language English and the "standard" dialects of English-speaking countries worldwide, the fundamental grammar is generally the same.


The definitions of words (such as lift vs elevator), idioms, and slang may vary from country to country. With a few exceptions where confusion is possible, most words are the same or mutually intelligible.


In the United States, General American is usually considered to be "standard" or "accentless", and is generally heard in the national media. In the United Kingdom, Received Pronunciation (RP) is sometimes considered "standard" or "proper", but many regional accents are now heard on the British Broadcasting Corporation. Most countries adopt a variant of one of these accents or a local national accent as the "standard" pronunciation.


With rare exceptions, national "standard" dialects use either American or British spellings, or a mixture of the two (such as in Canadian English). British spellings often prevail in Commonwealth countries.

See also


  • Bex, Tony & Watts, Richard J. Standard English: The widening debate. Routledge (1999) ISBN 0415191629
  • Coulmas, Florian & Watts, Richard J. Sociolinguistics: The study of speaker's choices. Cambridge. Cambridge University Press (2006) ISBN 0521836069
  • Crowley, Tony. Standard English and the Politics of Language. Palgrave Macmillan (2003) ISBN 0333990358
  • Crystal, David. The Fight for English: How language pundits ate, shot and left. Oxford. Oxford University Press (2006) ISBN 019920764X
  • Freeborn, Dennis. From Old English to Standard English: A Course Book in Language Variations Across Time Palgrave Macmillan (2006) ISBN 1403998809
  • Gramley, Stephan & Pätzold, Kurt-Michael A survey of Modern English. London. Routledge (2004) ISBN 0415049571
  • Harder, Jayne C. "Thomas Sheridan: A Chapter in the Saga of Standard English", American Speech, Vol. 52, No. 1/2 (Spring - Summer, 1977), pp. 65-75.
  • Hickey, Raymond Legacies of Colonial English. Essen University. Cambridge University Press (2004) ISBN 0521830206
  • Mugglestone, Lynda. The Oxford History of English. Oxford. Oxford University Press (2006) ISBN 0199249318
  • Wright, Laura. The Development of Standard English, 1300 - 1800: Theories, descriptions, conflicts. Cambridge. Cambridge University Press (2000) ISBN 0521771145

External links