American vs. British English

This website is written in American English, but there is a good chance that you have learned some slightly different words if you have studied British English. Here are some common words that we've picked out as useful and fun to know.

British people talk about going to the cinema to see a film, while Americans more often say, “I went to the movies yesterday to see that new movie everyone's talking about.”

In British, you throw away a banana peel in a rubbish bin, but in American, you throw it away in a trash can or a garbage can.

In American, smart is a synonym for intelligent. But in British, smart refers to the way you look. If a British person says, “You look smart,” they mean you look dressed up.

To say “I'm really tired,” a Brit would say, “I'm knackered!” whereas an American would say “I'm exhausted!”

In British English, clothes for your legs, like jeans, are called trousers. In American, we call those pants. However, in British, pants refers to underwear!

If someone is not feeling well, Americans usually say they are feeling sick, while British people would say they are feeling ill.

The season in which all the leaves turn color and fall off the trees is officially called autumn. But Americans usually simply call it fall.

In British English, you live in a flat, while in American, you live in an apartment.

If you don't want to take the stairs, you use a lift in British, or an elevator in American.

In British English, you go on holiday, whereas in American you go on vacation.

If you have a good relationship with someone, you get on with them in British English. In American, we say we get along with them.

If you want something sweet, a British person will ask for a biscuit, but an American will ask for a cookie.

If you want thick, fried potatoes, a Brit will request chips, while an American will ask for French fries.

If you need fuel for your car, a Brit will say petrol, while an American will call it gas or gasoline.

If you are writing with a pencil and make a mistake, a Brit will use a rubber to rub it out, and an American will use an eraser to erase it.

There are also differences in spelling, such as colour, theatre, and realise in British, but color, theater, and realize in American. To top it off, there are significant differences in pronunciation. Of course, there are many more dialects of English than just British and American. Enjoy the differences as you encounter them.

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