The Influence of American English and British English on Ghanaian English

A Corpus-based Study of Some Selected Verb Forms and Modals



Ghanaian English; International Corpus of English; ICE-Ghana; Corpus-based; Modals


English has been the de facto official language of Ghana since the country gained independence from Britain in 1957. According to Dolphyne (1995:31) “it is… standard written [British] English that newspaper editors and editors of journals aim at, as well as teachers in their teaching of English at all levels.” Shoba et al. (2013) also reinforce this stating that British English has remained the standard of the Ghanaian educational system since colonization. In recent times, however, American English has become more popular in Ghana, especially in the entertainment industry (Anderson et al., 2009). Using data from the International Corpus of English (Ghana component – written and spoken; British component – written and spoken; and the American component – written) and the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA), this paper looks at the frequencies of got, gotten and the modals will, shall, should and must with the aim of finding out which of the two native varieties Ghanaian English patterns after. The results of the study reveal that while Ghanaian English reflects some influence from American English by showing a tendency to pattern after it with regard to got and gotten, the same cannot be said regarding the modals will, shall, should and must.


Adika, G. S. K. (2012). English in Ghana: Growth, tensions, and trends. International Journal of Language, Translation and Intercultural Communication, 1, 151–166.

Algeo, J. (2006). British or American English?: A Handbook of Word and Grammar Patterns. Cambridge University Press.

Anderson, J. A. (2009). Codifying Ghanaian English: Problems and prospects. In T. Hoffmann & L. Siebers (Eds.), World Englishes—Problems, Properties and Prospects: Selected papers from the 13th IAWE conference (pp. 19–36). John Benjamins Publishing.

Anderson, J., A., Ansah, G., N., & hMensa, P. A. (2009). Domains of English in Ghana and Its Use for Specific Purposes. In M. Krzanowski (Ed.), English for Occupational and Academic Purposes in Developing, Emerging and Least Developed Countries (pp. 122–129). Garnet Education.

Asante, M. Y. (2012). Variation in subject-verb concord in Ghanaian English. World Englishes, 31(2), 208–225.

Biber, D., & Conrad, S. (2009). Register, genre, and style. Cambridge University Press.

Biber, D., Johansson, S., Leech, G., Conrad, S., & Finegan, E. (1999). Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English. Pearson.

Brato, T. (2020). Noun phrase complexity in Ghanaian English. World Englishes, 39(3), 377–393.

Bruku, B., O. (2010). A Sociolinguistic Analysis of LAFA: A Locally Acquired Foreign (American) English Accent in Ghana [MPhil Thesis]. University of Ghana, Legon.

Collins, P. (2009). Modals and quasi-modals in world Englishes. World Englishes, 28(3), 281–292.

Criper, L. (1971). A Classification of Types of English in Ghana. Journal of African Languages, 10(3), 6–17.

Dako, K. (2003). Ghanaianisms: A Glossary. Ghana Universities Press.

Dako, K. (2019). About the English Language in Ghana Today and about Ghanaian English and Languaging in Ghana. In H. Yitah & H. Lauer (Eds.), Philosophical foundations of the African humanities through postcolonial perspectives (pp. 220–253). Brill.

Davies, M. (2008). The Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA): One billion words, 1990-2019. Available online at

Dolphyne, F., A. (1995). A Note on the English Language in Ghana. In A. Bamgbose, A. Banjo, & A. Thomas (Eds.), New Englishes: A West African Perspective (pp. 27–33). British Council.

Greenbaum, S., & Nelson, G. (1996). The International Corpus of English (ICE) Project. World Englishes, 15(1), 3–15.

Huber, M. (2004). Ghanaian English: Phonology. In B. Kortmann, E. W. Schneider, K. Burridge, R. Mesthrie, & C. Upton (Eds.), A handbook of Varieties of English (Mouton de Gruyter, Vol. 1, pp. 842–865).

Huber, M. (2012). Syntactic and variational complexity in British and Ghanaian English: Relative clause formation in the written parts of the International Corpus of English. In B. Kortmann & B. Szmrecsanyi (Eds.), Linguistic complexity: Second language acquisition, indigenization, contact (pp. 218–242). Mouton de Gruyter.

Huber, M., & Dako, K. (2004). Ghanaian English: Morphology and Syntax. In B. Kortmann, E. W. Schneider, K. Burridge, R. Mesthrie, & C. Upton (Eds.), A handbook of Varieties of English (Mouton de Gruyter, Vol. 2, pp. 854–865).

Huber, M., & Dako, K. (2013). International Corpus of English, Ghana component. University of Giessen.

Kachru, B. B. (1985). Standards, codification and sociolinguistic realism: The English language in the Outer Circle. In English in the world: Teaching and learning the language and literatures: Papers of an international conference entitled ‘Progress in English Studies’ (pp. 11–30).

Ngula, R., S. (2014). Hybridized Lexical Innovations in Ghanaian English. Nordic Journal of African Studies, 23(3), 180–200.

Ngula, R. S., & Nartey, M. (2014). Language Corpora: The Case for Ghanaian English. The Southeast Asian Journal of English Language Studies, 20(3), 79–92.

Schneider, E. W. (2003). The Dynamics of New Englishes: From Identity Construction to Dialect Birth. Language, 79(2), 233–281.

Schneider, E., W. (2007). Postcolonial English. Varieties around the world. Cambridge University Press.

Schneider, E. W. (2014). New reflections on the evolutionary dynamics of world Englishes. World Englishes, 33(1), 9–32.

Sey, K. (1973). Ghanaian English: An exploratory survey. Macmillan Press.

Shoba, J. A., Dako, K., & Orfson-Offei, E. (2013). 'Locally acquired foreign accent’ (LAFA) in contemporary Ghana. World Englishes, 32(2), 230–242.

Tingley, C. (1981). Deviance in the English of Ghanaian Newspapers. English World-Wide, 2(1), 38–62.

The influence of american english and british englishes on ghanaian english




How to Cite

Osei-Tutu, K. (2021). The Influence of American English and British English on Ghanaian English: A Corpus-based Study of Some Selected Verb Forms and Modals. Ghana Journal of Linguistics, 10(2), 84–102. Retrieved from