The difference between British English and American English


The list below highlights the difference between British English and American English.

Apart from the spelling differences - you can see those by clicking on the USA - UK differences at the left hand side of this page - there are a number of differences in vocabulary listed below.

I suggest you look them over because you never know when you may run into an American after studying British English, or when you may run into a Brit after having studied American English.

Having been to England a number of times now myself, I can assure you that the differences between American and British vocabulary are just enough to cause a few laughs.

Well, maybe a few... misunderstandings. ;-)

What's important to remember?

That both British English and American English are accepted on the examinations as long as you consistently use either one or the other. In other words, don't mix!




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

café 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



That's about it as far as the difference between British English and American English vocabulary goes.

There are a number of differences between British and American usages of idioms and phrasal verbs that I hope to include in the future.

If you know of any difference between British English and American English that I haven't included, feel free to contact me.

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