Advanced English Grammar

 

 

The differences between British English and American English


The differences between British English and American English are highlighted on this page.

Both the spelling differences and vocabulary differences are noted below.

It's worth a look over because you never know when you may run into an American or a British subject after having studied the 'other' form!

Remember, both British English and American English are accepted on most language examinations as long as you are consistant. 

Also, it helps to know that American English is properly understood to be a dialect of the English Language.

With this in mind, let's look at the differences between British English and American English.

The first list below shows the general spelling differences between American and British English. Most people are familiar with “re” of centre or theatre in British English, but many don't recognize the “ize” of American English spelling in words like apologize or realize.

These basic spelling differences, once learned, should no longer be a problem at the advanced English level. 


Spelling differences between British English and American English

 

BRITISH ENGLISH

adviser

analyse

apologise/apologize

axe

behaviour

catalogue

centre

cheque

colour

councillor

counsellor

defence

dialogue

favour

favourite

enrol

fulfil

grey

honour

humour

instal

jeweller

jewellery

kerb (edge of pavement)

labelled

labour

liqueur

licence

litre

marvellous

metre

neighbour

organize/organise

plough

practise (verb)

practice (noun)

programme

pyjamas

quarrelled

realise/realize

signalled

skilful

theatre

through

travelled, -lling

tyre (on a wheel)

 

AMERICAN ENGLISH

advisor

analyze

apologize

axe/ax

behavior

catalog/catalogue

center

check

color

councilor

counselor

defense

dialog/dialogue

favor

favorite

enroll

fulfill

gray

honor

humor

install

jeweler

jewelery

curb

labeled

labor

liquor

license

liter

marvelous

meter

neighbor

organize

plow

practice (verb and noun)

 

program

pajamas

quarreled

realize

signaled

skillful

theater

through, thru

traveled, -ling

tire

 

Now, apart from the spelling differences between British English and American English asa seen above, there are a number of vocabulary differences as well.

To an American, if you give someone a lift you are giving them a ride in your car while in England when you speak of a lift you are talking about the elevator.

The list below shows some of the vocabulary differences between the two. 


Some vocabulary differences between British English and American English

 

BRITISH ENGLISH

Buildings in General

block of flats

first floor

flat

ground floor

lift

Household Furniture

camp bed

chest of drawers

cot

cupboard

curtains

dresser (for plates, dishes)

roller blind

standard lamp

In the Kitchen

baking tray

bread bin

clothes peg

cooker

cutlery

flex

hoover

(to hoover)

liquidizer / blender

napkin / serviette

tap

tea towel

tin opener

wash up

washing up liquid

waste bin

worktop

Fruits and vegetables

aubergine

beetroot

spring onion

courgette

marrow

runner bean

Meat

minced meat

Snacks

biscuits

chips

crisps

sweets

sweetshop

Automobile / Car

accelerator

aerial

bonnet

boot

gear level

handbrake

indicator switch

mudguard

petrol cap

puncture

rear light

side-light

windscreen

wing

wing mirror

Motor Vehicles

coach

estate car

lorry

sallon

Near Roads

car park

crossroads

cycle path

diversion

flyover

lay by

middle lane

motorway

pavement

pedestrian / zebra crossing

roundabout

sleeping policeman

slip road

subway

underground

Driving

change up into gear

overtake

reverse down

Shops / Stores

bookshop

chemist’s chemist

fishmonger’s

greengrocer’s

grocer’s

jeweller’s

newsagent’s

off-licence

stationer’s

Clothes

anorak

braces

dinner jacket

dressing gown

polo neck jumper

suspenders

tights

trousers

turn-ups

vest

waistcoat

Shoes

court shoes

thongs

football boots

plimsolls

trainers

wellington boots

Travel

buffet car

engine driver

hire / rent a car

luggage trolley

railway carriage

railway station

return ticket

single ticket

Telephonee

dialing / STD code

directory enquiries

it’s engaged / busy

reverse the charges

Miscellaneous

autumn

bank note

candyfloss

carrycot

fortnight / two weeks

high street

hire purchase

holiday

interval

nappy

petrol

petrol / filling station

polling day

caretaker

postbox / letterbox

postman

postcode

queue

rubber

rubbish

secondary school

sellotape

skipping rope

term

university

wardrobe

(TV) aerial

dustbin

 

AMERICAN ENGLISH

Buildings in General

apartment building

second floor

apartment

first floor

elevator

Household Furniture

cot

dresser

crib

closet

drapes

hutch

shade

floor lamp

In the Kitchen

cookie sheet

bread box

clothes pin

stove

silverware

electric cord

vacuum cleaner

(to vacuum)

blender

napkin

faucet

dish towel

can opener

do the dishes

dish washing liquid

waste basket

counter

Fruits and vegetables

eggplant

beet

green onion

zucchini

squash

string bean

Meat

ground meat (hamburger)

Snacks

cookies

French fries

chips

candies

candy store

Automobile / Car

gas pedal

antenna

hood

trunk

gear shift

emergency break

turn signal / blinker

splash guard (mud flaps )

gas cap

blow-out (flat)

tail-light

parking-light

windshield

fender

rearview mirror

Motor Vehicles

bus

station wagon

truck

sedan

Near Roads

parking lot

intersection

bicycle route

detour

overpass

rest area

center lane

freeway / highway

sidewalk

crosswalk

traffic circle

speed bump

on ramp

underpass

subway

Driving

shift into gear

pass

back down

Shops / Stores

bookstore

drugstore / pharmacy

fishstore

fruit and vegetable stand

grocery store

jewelry store

news dealer

liquor store

stationary / office supply

Clothes

parka

suspenders

tuxedo

robe

turtleneck sweater

garters

pantyhose

pants

cuffed pants

undershirt

vest

Shoes

pumps

flip flops

soccer shoes

sneakers

sneakers / tennis shoes

rubber boots

Travel

cafe car

engineer

rent a car (hire a person)

baggage cart

railroad car

railroad station

round-trip ticket

one way ticket

Telephone

area code

information

it’s busy

call collect

Miscellaneous

fall

bill

cotton candy

porta crib

two weeks

main street

installment plan

vacation

intermission

diaper

gas

gas station

election day

janitor

mailbox

mailman

zip code

line

eraser

garbage

high school

Scotch tape

jump rope

semester

university / college

closet

(TV) antenna

garbage / trash can



As seen the differences between British English and American English aren't that many, but they are enough to make for a few laughs or embarrassing situations.

To learn more about the differences between British English and American English the preceeding link will take you to a site with more information about this item.