Which English do we use in India, American or British?




Lynette VanWagner, MA Linguistics; American university English grammar teacher; native speaker

I would answer C) none of the above; Indian English speakers speak Indian English, but that would imply there was just one variety of Indian English. The linguistic background of Indian English is much richer than that. It draws from its long historical contact with British English, its current contact with American English, and from the Dravidic or Indic languages of each region in which it is spoken. Each regional variety of English in India reflects the pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, and thought patterns of all of these sources, which makes it considerably more complex than even the speakers themselves realize.

Fortunately, all of these Indian English varieties preserve a wealth of structural and cognitive forms from a wide array of languages. Unfortunately, in my experience, most speakers of Indian English varieties don't know that. I teach English to university students from Asia, Africa, Europe, and Latin America. More than any other national group, Indian students are susceptible to a kind of psychic shock when they hear that they need to enter an English as a Second Language program. They've been speaking English for years and never expected English, of all things, to be one of their biggest barriers to American higher education. And it gets worse.

For many Indian students, their very familiarity with English makes it harder for them to learn American English than for students from Far East Asia or Africa.  speakers are learning a set of patterns and rules for English that is wildly different from the patterns and rules of their first language and face the clash of structures without the shock of Indian students, who already have a set of patterns and rules for English that feels natural and logical for them. It isn't until they get outside of the community of speakers of their variety of English and into a community of American English speakers that they find out how different American English is. An article, verb tense, plural form, or vocabulary word may be used one way by an American and a different way by an Indian because the American is using it to express a Germanic, Latin, or Greek language concept and the Indian is using that same word or construction to express a Dravidic or Indic language concept. The similarity of the surface forms make it difficult or nearly impossible for speakers to see the difference in meaning below the surface.




Some Indian English speakers manage to make the changes necessary to study in an environment that demands Standard American English. One such student said, "I had to learn things WRONG just to be understood." She did learn a very competent (but, to her, wrong-feeling) second variety of English and is now successfully employed by an American University. Other students never overcome the shock of being told their English isn't adequate for the university, and spend their time in an ESL classroom heroically refusing to allow any American patterns to corrupt their English. Some of them have moved from educational institution to educational institution trying to find one that will validate their English as adequate, acceptable, real English. The tragedy is that their English is adequate, acceptable, and real. It's just not Standard American English.

译文来源:三泰虎  http://www.santaihu.com/47853.html  译者:Joyceliu



Partha Misra, Studied English, taught English, trained English teachers and love English

The question “Which English do we use in India, American or British?” does not make any sense to me. We speak neither the American English nor the British English, we speak ENGLISH, pure and simple, English that is our passport to the whole world, you may call it Global English, I don’t mind.

The English text books and the English grammar that we studied during our school days were imported from the United Kingdom and our bookish knowledge of English and our proficiency in English were modelled after the British tradition. Yes, during the pre- Google era ( BG: Before Google), we were comfortable with the so-called “British English”, but during the post-Google era (AG: After Google), we are more comfortable with the s0-called American English. It’s cool.



Though I studied in the United Kingdom for a year and travelled extensively in the USA for months, I did not face any problem of communication in English. My English words may have different connotations, my English syntax may have patterns which are not used by the American or the Britons, but I do speak in English, communicate in English while interacting with my American or the British friends.

The so-called American variety of English is popular among the younger generation of Indian speakers of English. “Hi” is preferred to “hello”, “scheduled is pronounced as “skeduled” and “ flats” are being replaced by “apartments”.

The de ocratization of English that started in the USA has reached the Indian shore and together with the American speakers of English, we are sha the future of the Global English which is neither the British nor the American.

If you think that I am making a tall claim, please listen to the speech given by David Crystal on the first day of the IATEFL conference held at Birmingham in April 2016.




如果你认为我说的有些夸张,请听一听2016年4月David Crystal在伯明翰举行的IATEFL大会的第一天发表的演讲。


Ramesh Chadalawada, Management Consultant

The British had ruled us for over 200 years. Thanks to Macaulay reforms, English was made compulsory subject in schools and colleges. Only those who knew English were getting jobs in the government. Therefore, we had learnt English perforce -- the British English with British accent. The Queen's English as it is called today, has royalty about it. An Indian who could speak King's English as it was called those days, was supposed to be a gentleman to the core in the matter of etiquette, behaviour, style of walking, talking etc. American English is polluted. It doesn't accept passive voice expressions that the British English is rich with. 'Hi...' is common in American English. British consider it as an American slang! They expect you to address them as 'Sir' or Mr. or Mrs. or Ms. etc. and conclude with Sincerely, Obediently, I beg to remain, etc., which are considered archaic today and not in tune with the present day English that we speak. The English we speak to day is adulterated to the maxmum extent. So, we should say that the English we speak is Indian English accepted in America and Britain equally with a pinch of salt.



Neeraj Patralekh, Another Engineer, Quora lover

There are two major aspect of this.

First from where we adopted this language and second from where this language become so much popular.

If we look at the former one then obviously we adopted this from British.

When Lord Macaulay became the member of Governor general's assembly he came to India and publicly critised the Indian language Sanskrit, Arabic, Urdu etc.. And declared them useless before English. He proposed that Indian should be taught English even if they show no interest.

From there English has become the official language of India. We started to learn English as a subject from school, college and even English universites were also set up. We started to read various English poem, stories Novels. We became aware of English culture and shown interest in western music, food, dressing style everything what we could adopt.

This is the story of British English.







Now where does American come from.

Hollywood plays a major role into it. And Not only movies but American TV shows, Video games, Advertisements, Novels, Magazines everything also influenced Indian a lot to speak in American English.

American Inc also brought a different culture that has attracted us.

So to conclude this I would say British gave us English which we use on paper as a non verbal communication.

And American gave us English for Verbal communication.

And during this phase we have also invented our own Language which Hinglish








Rohit D M S

Indian English is actually and essentially a variety and a progeny of British English. The spellings, vocabulary and usage patterns in our constitution and in the books of the libraries in our supreme court and high courts are all in British Indian English and so it still is. Therefore British English is the standard for Indian English. Probably that is why there is no recognition for Indian English because British English and standard Indian English are one and the same. American English has been invading India and the whole world by the mass media, Hollywood, technology etc. Teachers and lecturers in India are themselves unable to differentiate British from American English. Many Britons themselves use Americanisms these days. New Delhi encourages Hindi and each of the states promote their languages. Indian English is neglected in India and outside! Why would uneducated politicians who are voted into power ever support English. India (Hindi vs Tamil) would have divided us long before this, but thanks to English that links us we did not. Pakistan, Lanka and would be happy to see India break up into bits and tatters.


English is no birthright, it is the lingua franca of the world now, but if it were so, then India has more right on English than any other nation because we are the largest English speaking nation in the world though non native. Due to our uncontrolled population in slums and villages.

The Indians who brag about their English being American or British and disdain Indian English are either American wannabes or British wannabes. They think they are born in Ozzie land not India. The only positive side of this: it keeps the quality of English here from becoming substandard and mixng with vernacular. As for me I am a proud of my mother tongue Konkani but with a great liking for British Indian ENGLISH. I relate with English nationalistically and patriotically as well, because our first laws were passed in English, we were first ruled as one nation in English and our freedom fighters and founding fathers all argued for our independence with the colonisers in ENGLISH.




Ashish Sharma, A tech geek, a web designing noob, blogger and a TBBT buff.

English is one of the two official languages of the Union Government of India.

Indian English generally uses the same British English Spelling as Commonwealth nations such as Pakistan, Australia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and South Africa.

Similarly, in common with most of the Commonwealth, the final letter of the alphabet, Z is pronounced “zed”. In addition, the punctuation mark at the end of a sentence is referred to as a "full stop" rather than "period".

Due to effects of British colonisation we use 're', 'ise', and 'our' spellings in words like 'metre', 'realise', and 'endeavour' , respectively, which Americans would spell as 'meter', realize' and 'endeavor'.

Indian accents vary greatly. Most Indians lean toward a more vernacular, native-tinted accent for their English speech.



同样,与大多数英联邦国家一样,Z是字母表的最后一个字母,发音为“zed”。此外,句末的标点符号被称为“full stop”,而不是“period”。

由于英国殖民的影响,我们在单词'metre', 'realise', and 'endeavour'中的拼写是 ' re '、 ' ise '和 ' our ',而美国人把'metre', 'realise', and 'endeavour'拼成“meter”、“realize”和“endeavor”。



Aditya Rajagopal, studied MBA in Marketing

It goes without saying that the English spoken in India is undoubtedly the British version. The English language in India is a vestige of the British colonial empire and continues to flourish even post independence. The first reason to support this is the Indian English lexcon which is based on British English. A common example is Indians saying Brinjal; few Indians would understand what is an eggplant or an aubergine, similarly it is Capsicum in India, never a bell pepper. Academic and Industrial terminology are all British, In India one finds Trams in Calcutta, not streetcars and cars are fueled with Petrol not gasoline. There are innumerable such examples to suggest that Indian English is British English. Further, Spellings in India tend to follow British forms - Colour, behaviour, calibre, spectre, anaemia to name a few. However, there seems to be a gradual drift towards the American forms. In modern times, an unfortunate trend is youngsters adopting a feigned American accent and a lingo to appear cool.

不用说,印度人说的英语无疑是英式英语。印度的英语是英国殖民帝国的残留,甚至在独立后仍继续蓬勃发展。支持这一观点的第一个原因是基于英式英语的印度英语词典。一个常见的例子是印度人把茄子称为Brinjal;很少有印度人会理解这就是茄子,类似地,印度说的辣椒不是灯笼椒。学术和工业术语都是英式英语,在印度,你会发现加尔各答的有轨电车和汽车烧的是汽油(Petrol)而不是gasoline。有无数这样的例子表明印度英语就是英式英语。此外,印度的拼写往往遵循英式英语的规则——Colour, behaviour, calibre, spectre, anaemia等等。但现在也有逐渐向美式转变的趋势。年轻人为了显得装酷而模仿美国的口音和方言。


Bobi Lloyd

There are many more versions of English than the two you referenced.

In India they would typically speak Indian English,

Just as in Jamaica Jamaican English is spoken,

So in South Africa South African English is standard,

Also Australians speak Australian English,

Can Canadians speak Canadian English? Most of them can,

How about Hong Kong, where Hong Kong English is heard,

Since we’re in Asia, in Singapore they’ll speak … you get the picture,

Nearly forgot New Zealand, where they also speak their own version.

See also Belizean, Caribbean, Falkland Islands, Irish, Kenyan, Malaysian, Philippino, Scots, Sri Lankan, Trinidadian, Ugandan, and Zimbabwean English.












Ravish Rawat, Graphic Designer at Langma International (2017-present)

In the government sector, we use British English. In the private sector, we use American English. Education falls under government sector and that’s where British English is taught. If you work for private companies, then you’ll have to go with American English. I personally prefer American English. It sounds cool and is much simpler. Even the American accent is simple to comprehend.



Bistappayya Nadiger, 30 years experience in graded teaching from KG to P G students.

The English we use in India is a heterogeneous mixture of British and American Styles. We follow most of the British styles since there is an influence of their English as they ruled us nearly more than 200 years. Old people in India are after British English. The new generation is inclined and rushes towards American style. Indian English is a hybrid of both styles.



Bhavin Sinyal, studied Mechanical Engineering at Terna Engineering College


Indians speak a language very closely related to English (99.9%) but has no name. Lets call that language ‘Indian-English’.

Basically we were girst introduced to British English by Britishers. But then we have this craze for America, and of its media , which has a significant influence on us.

American English words : Counter-clockwise, cotton candy, Vacation, eraser, elevator, apartment, etc

British English words: Anticlockwise, candy floss, holiday, rubber, lift, flat, etc

Indians uses all of these words interchangeably and unknowingly that they use English of multiple countries + some of which they derived like

Loose motion. This word is unknown in America /Europe. Only Indians use it to say Diarrhoea ( British) or Diarrhea ( American)




美式英语里的单词:Counter-clockwise, cotton candy, Vacation, eraser, elevator, apartment等

在英式英语里变成:Anticlockwise, candy floss, holiday, rubber, lift, flat等等


Loose motion这个词在美洲/欧洲不为人知。只有印度人用它来表示Diarrhoea(英式英语的腹泻)或Diarrhea(美式英语的腹泻)。


Ian Shearer

In my experience most Indians use a version of British English. To my ears it sounds like a rather dated and formal version of British English and i would describe it as Indian English. Maybe its a remnant of the British Empire. Of course India is a massive place and i guess there must be many regional variations which are lost on my uncultured ear.



Anand Hariharan, Will write code for food

Our next generation is bombarded by american AND british tv programming.

So, id say our kids will be equally comfortable with both.

Not sure about what spellings they will adopt though (Colour vs color).

Coming back to the question, I think the world needs to recognize that there is such a thing called Indian English that comes with its own vocabulary of hinglish words and accents.



不确定他们会采用什么拼写方式(Colour vs color)。


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