Differences between British English and American English

English is spoken all around the world. It is a primary language in parts of North America, Europe, Australasia, Asia and Africa. Naturally, the ways English is used in different countries have evolved independently over time.


One example of two countries having different versions of English is the United Kingdom and the United States of America.


Here are some key differences between British English and American English.



Nouns


Brits and Americans have different names for certain objects. Thanks to internationally-broadcast media, however, people from these countries know both versions so are still able to communicate with ease.


Watch out for some confusing crossovers! Both the UK and the US use the word 'chip' but each refers to different foodstuffs. Both the UK and US say 'college' but in the US it means a large institution that provides degrees (known as 'university' in the UK) but in the UK 'college' means a local education provider where people can study vocational and high school-level courses (Americans call this 'community college').

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A pair of grey trousers

British English

Trousers

American English

Pants



The outside of an apartment building

British English

Flat

American English

Apartment


The front of a car

British English

Bonnet

American English

Hood


The back of a car

British English

Boot

American English

Trunk




A white lorry driving along a road

British English

Lorry

American English

Truck



The outside of a grand university building

British English

University

American English

College



Someone lying on a hammock on the beach

British English

Holiday

American English

Vacation



A red and blue knitted jumper

British English

Jumper

American English

Sweater




A plate of chips

British English

Chips

American English

French fries



A bag of spicy crisps

British English

Crisps

American English

Chips



Two colourful trainers on a white platform

British English

Trainers

American English

Sneakers



A glass of lemonade

British English

Fizzy drink

American English

Soda


A postman handing someone a parcel at their door

British English

Post

Postbox

Postman/postwoman

American English

Mail

Mailbox

Mailman/mailwoman


A tray of shaped biscuits

British English

Biscuit

American English

Cookie



The outside of a clothing shop

British English

Shop

American English

Store



A team of football players mid-game

British English

Football

American English

Soccer



An American football player running with the ball

British English

American football

American English

Football



An aeroplane flying through the sky

British English

Aeroplane

American English

Airplane




Other words


Some shared words have the same meanings but are followed by an ‘s’ in British English but are not in American English.


British English

Towards

American English

Toward


British English

Afterwards

American English

Afterward


British English

Maths

American English

Math

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Spelling


There are words that are identical in meaning and pronunciation but are spelt differently.


British English

Colour

American English

Color


British English

Flavour

American English

Flavor


British English

Metre

American English

Meter


British English

Centre

American English

Centre


British English

Grey

American English

Gray


British English

Doughnut

American English

Donut


British English

Civilisation

American English

Civilization



Phrasing


Sometimes, the way the two nations phrase things is different.


British English

By accident

American English

On accident


British English

12th of January

American English

January 12th



What other differences between British English and American English can you think of?



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