1 Is a bumper called a fender in the US?
2 Do American’s have pennies?
3 Is an ‘oh’ always pronounced ‘zero’ in American telephone numbers?
4 Do Americans say mustn’t?
5 Do Americans use the present perfect?
1 No. A bumper is called a bumper here – just like BrE. A fender is an AmE word for the part of a car that’s like a mudguard round a wheel of a vehicle. So a fender-bender is a small collision.
2 Yes, they call their one cent coins pennies. They just don’t put them in slots and spend them in quite the same way.
3. No. Americans say ‘oh’ as well.
4 No. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone using that contraction here, except me. They might say things are ‘not allowed’ though.
5 Yes. Really! BrE speakers use the present perfect slightly more in conversation than AmE speakers. AmE speakers sometimes use a past tense where only a present perfect is possible in BrE. But the present perfect is alive and well in AmE.
Here are some usage notes on just, yet and already. American readers – I hope you’ll tell me if I’ve got things wrong:
- British and American speakers both use ‘yet’, ‘already’ and ‘just’ with the present perfect: Have you done it yet? I’ve already done it. I’ve just finished. (BrE and AmE)
- American speakers might also use a past tense with ‘yet’ and ‘already’. Did you do it yet? I already did it.(AmE)
- British and American speakers both use ‘just’ with the past tense to describe something that happened a moment ago: Did you just call me? (BrE and AmE)
- British speakers generally use ‘just’ with the present perfect to give news. I’ve just passed my driving test!
American speakers might say this too, but they also use the past tense to give news: I just passed my driving test
I’m still not sure exactly when American speakers prefer to use the past with ‘just’, ‘already’ and ‘yet’. But my hypothesis is this:
Past forms may be a tad more informal in AmE, and present perfect forms more favoured when you’re speaking ‘carefully’. And there might be something else going on with ‘yet ‘where ‘Did you do it yet?’ sounds a bit more urgent to an American ear than ‘Have you done it yet?’. One helpful American has offered this rule of thumb: if you can end the question with ‘godammit’, you can use ‘did’.