American v British English

Good morning, good afternoon or good evening wherever you are. How are you? I hope that you are well. Today we are going to talk about the differences between the English that we speak here in the UK, and the English that they speak in the United States. Many people have asked me which version they should study and the truth is that in general the language is the same. Americans understand British people and vice versa – Brits understand Americans. 

However, there are quite a few differences in the vocabulary that we use for things. This can lead to a little confusion sometimes so it is worthwhile learning some of the key differences. Today we will discuss some of these and if you want to see a list I will include the link within the transcript which you can find at (

Many of the most common words are different in each version of English. For example, I live in a flat. It is one home in a tenement building with 4 floors and 11 other flats. In the USA, they would call my home and apartment and the building would be called an apartment building. Another weird difference is that in the UK, I would say I live on the second floor. This means that there are two floors below me – the first floor and the ground floor. In American English, they don’t say ground floor, so they would say that I live on the third floor (even though I would still have 2 floors below me).

Some other differences can be seen in restaurants. If you go to a restaurant and look at the menu, in the UK you will see “starters” – the first course which is usually a small plate of food. In America, the menu would say “appetizers”. It’s the same thing, just with a different word. You might also see the word “entre” on the American menu. Here in the UK, you are more likely to see “Main Course”. 

Something else that can cause confusion in restaurants is the Chip/Crisp/Fry debate. In the UK, a chip is a hot deep fried piece of potato. In the states a ship is a thin slice of potato which has been fried but is served cold (usually in a plastic bag). Here we call that a crisp. In the USA, they call the hot snack “Fries” or “French fries”.

Back to the house. In the UK we keep our clothes in wardrobes, but the Americans use closets. We put our rubbish into a bin, but they put their garbage into a can. On our letters we have a post code, but they have a Zip code. You might use your mobile phone to call for a takeaway in the UK. In the USA, you need to use your cellphone to order takeout. The delivery driver will use the lift here, but the elevator there.

When you go outside, you walk on a pavement in the UK. Americans use a sidewalk. It’s the same thing, just with a different name. Here you would use trainers, but in America you would say sneakers. Maybe you want to go to play football – well in the states you would be playing soccer. 

There are lots more differences between the two versions of English, but this podcast will give you a little taste of them. I hope you find it useful!

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