English students often ask what the differences are between British and American English. Depending on who you ask, the answer may vary! Most English teachers agree that while there are many differences in pronunciation, slang, idioms, vocabulary, and spelling, the two languages share enough similarities that one can almost always understand a person who speaks the other version of English. However, the two are different enough that each has its own dictionary.

french fries
Fries . . . or chips? It depends on where you are from!

So what are the important differences between British and American English? Apart from the accent, the most notable differences are with the vocabulary. The following are some of the more commonly-used words with differences in British and American English. How many of these have you heard before?


American English                        British English

apartment                                                                                flat

attorney (lawyer)                                                                 barrister

Thumbtack . . . or drawing pin?

cookie                                                                                        biscuit

chips                                                                                          crisps

counter-clockwise                                                               anti-clockwise

fries                                                                                            chips

garbage                                                                                     rubbish

garbage can                                                                            bin

garbage man                                                                          dustman

parking lot                                                                              car park

Cookies . . . or biscuits?

thumbtack                                                                              drawing pin

truck                                                                                          lorry

trunk                                                                                          boot

vacation                                                                                   holiday




Students often ask how to become more accustomed to the British accent. The best way is to expose yourself to it as much as possible, and what better way to do that than watch some great British films?


Featured image from www.immortalhumans.com.