American English to British English

UK and USA Flags
American and British Flags. belterz / Getty Images

The biggest differences between American and British English are in pronunciation and vocabulary choices. Standard pronunciation in American English is flatter and not nearly as musical as British English. American's speak what is known as General American whereas UK speakers use what's known as Received Pronunciation

There are a few minor grammar differences between American and British English, most notably differences in past simple and present perfect usage with words such as 'just' and 'already' taking the past simple in American English but the present perfect in British English.

I just bought a new car, and I already got the license plate. (American English)
I've just bought a new car, and I've already received the papers. (British English)

There are also a few past participles such as 'gotten' in American English and 'got' in British English, 'forgotten' in British English and 'forgot' in American English that change.

He's forgot a number of times. (British English)
He's forgotten a number of times. (American English)

Finally, There are also a few minor spelling differences between the two.

centre (British English)
center (American English)
recognize (American English)
recognise (British English)

American - British Vocabulary Differences

Sometimes students are confused about differences between American and British English. Generally speaking, it's true that most Americans will understand British English speakers and vice versa. However, as you become more advanced, it's important to decide which form you would prefer to speak.

Once you've decided, try to stick to one form or the other. This also applies to pronunciation differences. 

The following list provides American English equivalents to British English words which are arranged in alphabetical order. 

American English

British English

antennaaerial
madangry
anyplaceanywhere
fallautumn
billbank note
attorneybarrister, solicitor
cookiebiscuit
hoodbonnet
trunkboot
suspendersbraces
janitorcaretaker
drug storechemist's
french frieschips
the moviesthe cinema
rubbercondom
patrolmanconstable
stovecooker
wheatcorn, wheat
cribcot
threadcotton
wreckcrash
intersectioncrossroads
drapescurtains
checkersdraughts
thumbtackdrawing-pin
divided highwaydual carriageway
pacifierdummy
trashcandust-bin, rubbish-bin
garbage candustbin, rubbish-bin
garbage collectordustman
generatordynamo
motorengine
engineerengine driver
moviefilm
apartmentflat
overpassflyover
yardgarden
gear-lshiftgear-lever
alumnusgraduate
boilergrill
first floorground floor
rubbersgumshoes, wellington boots
sneakersgymshoes, tennis-shoes
pursehandbag
billboardhoarding
vacationholiday
vacuum cleanerhoover
sickill
intermissioninterval
sweaterjersey, jumper, pullover, sweater
pitcherjug
elevatorlift
trucklorry
baggageluggage
raincoatmackintosch, raincoat
crazymad
highwaymain road
cornmaize
mathmaths
stingymean
freewaymotorway
diapernappy
vicious, meannasty
noplacenowhere
private hospitalnursing home
optometristoculltist, optician
liquor storeoff-license
keroseneparaffin
sidewalkpavement
peekpeep
gasolinepetrol
mailpost
mailboxpostbox
mailman, mail carrierpostman
potato chipspotato crisps
baby carriagepram
barpub
rest roompublic toilet
blow-outpuncture
strollerpush-chair
linequeue
railroadrailway
railway carrailway carriage
spool of threadreel of cotton
round tripreturn (ticket)
call collectreverse charges
raiserise (in salary)
pavementroad surface
traffic circleroudabout
eraserrubber
garbage, trashrubbish
sedansaloon (car)
Scotch tapesellotape
storeshop
mufflersilencer
one-waysingle (ticket)
someplacesomewhere
wrenchspanner
facultystaff (of a university)
oil-pansump
dessertsweet
candysweets
faucettap
spigottap (outdoors)
cabtaxi
dish-toweltea-towel
semesterterm
panti-hosetights
scheduletimetable
cantin
turnpiketoll motorway
flashlighttorch
hobotramp
pantstrousers
cuffsturn-ups
subwayunderground railway
shortsunderpants
shoulder (of road)verge (of road)
vestwaistcoat
closetwardrobe
wash upwash your hands
windshieldwindscreen
fenderwing
zipperzip

 

American to British English Quiz

Replace the American English word in italics with a British English word. 

  1. I'd like to hang the drapes tonight. Do you have time?
  2. We took the elevator to the 10th floor.
  3. Would you like to see a movie tonight?
  4. Have you seen Tim's new apartment yet? It's very nice.
  5. Run down to the drug store and buy some aspirin please. 
  6. Let's go to the bar and get a drink.
  7. I'll take the garbage out before I leave tomorrow morning.
  8. Take the second exit at the traffic circle.
  9. Let's get have some potato chips with lunch. 
  10. Could you hand me the flashlight so I can take a look in the closet?
  11. Peter wore a pair of slim fitting pants to the party.
  12. She opened the tap and watered the garden.
  13. Have you ever worn a vest with a suit?
  14. I'll pick up the mail on the way home from work.
  15. Could you buy me a pair of panti-hose at the mall?

Answers

  1. curtains
  2. lift
  3. film
  4. flat
  5. chemist's
  6. pub
  7. rubbish
  8. roundabout
  9. crisps
  10. torch
  11. trousers
  12. spigot 
  13. waistcoat
  14. post
  15. tights

British to American English Quiz

Replace the British word in italics with an American English word.

  1. We need to find a public toilet soon.
  2. Let's get the pram and take a walk with Jennifer. 
  3. I'm afraid I had a puncture and had to get it fixed.
  4. Could you bring in that tin of tuna over there?
  1. He puts his trousers on like any other person.
  2. She's very mean with her money. Don't ask her for any help.
  3. I generally don't wear a suit with a waistcoat.
  4. We should ask a constable for help.
  5. Let's go to the off-license and get some whiskey. 
  6. Get on queue and I'll get us something to eat.
  7. Grab a tea-towel and clean that up.
  8. Look at the schedule and see when the train leaves.
  9. The car has a dent in the wing.
  10. Choose a sweater from the wardrobe and let's get going.
  11. The lights have gone out, and we'll need a torch.

Answers

  1. rest room
  2. baby carriage
  3. blow-out
  4. can
  5. pants
  6. stingy
  7. vest
  8. patrolman
  9. liquor store
  10. line
  11. dish-towel
  12. time table
  13. fender
  14. closet 
  15. flashlight