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English Pronunciation Books
English Vocabulary Books

British vs American English
American vs British English

"The United States and Great Britain are two countries separated by a common language." George Bernard Shaw

Union Jack
 
US
British English
A-Z
 
US English
aluminium   aluminum
bank holiday3   public holiday
basin   *sink
big wheel   Ferris wheel
biscuits   cookies
bonnet   hood
boot   trunk
braces   suspenders
break (play time)   recess
candyfloss   cotton candy
car park   parking lot
chest (set) of drawers   bureau
caretaker   janitor
chips   French fries
compere   emcee
cinema   movie theater
crisps   chips
crossroads   intersection
current account   checking account
curtains   drapes
drawing-pin   thumbtack
drink-driving   drunk driving
dummy   pacifier
dustbin   trashcan
engaged   busy
film   movie
fish fingers   fish sticks
flannel   washcloth
flat   apartment
flu   grippe
fringe   bangs
frying-pan   skillet
funfair   carnival
garden   yard
ground floor   first floor
guide dog   seeing eye dog
handbag   purse
holiday   vacation
hoover   vacuum cleaner
jam   jelly
jug   pitcher
jumper   sweater
kerb   curb
ladder   run
lamp post   street light
last post   taps
lift   elevator
lorry   truck
mackintosh   slicker
main road   highway
manual (cars)   stick shift
minced beef   ground beef
mobile phone (aka mobile)   cell phone (aka cell)
motorway   freeway / turnpike
nail varnish   nail polish
nappies   diapers
page   bellboy
pants   panties
pavement   sidewalk
petrol   gas
plait   braid
plaster   band-aid
play truant   cut class
porridge   oatmeal
postcode   zip code
pram   baby buggy
prison officer   correctional officer
public school   private school
pupil   student
removal van   moving van
! rubber !   eraser
rubbish   garbage
rubbish   trash
rucksack   knapsack
saloon car   sedan
school report   report card
Sellotape   Scotch tape
shares   stocks
spare time   free time
spring onion   scallion
!suspenders (used
to hold up ladies
stockings)
  garters
tap   faucet
tights   panty hose
tin   can
toffee apple   candy apple
toilet   bathroom
torch   flashlight
traffic warden   parking meter attendant
tram   streetcar
trolley car
trousers   !pants
vest   undershirt
washing powder   detergent
washing up liquid   dishwashing liquid
wellies / wellingtons   rubber boots
windscreen   windshield
yard2   yard
zip   zipper
 
US
 
Union Jack
US English
A-Z
 
British English
aluminum   aluminium
apartment   flat
baby buggy   pram
band-aid   plaster
bangs   fringe
bathroom   toilet
bellboy   page
braid   plait
bureau   office
busy   engaged
can   tin
candy apple   toffee apple
carnival   funfair
cell phone (aka cell)   mobile phone (aka mobile)
checking account   current account
chips   crisps
cookies   biscuits
correctional officer   prison officer
cotton candy   candyfloss
curb   kerb
cut class   play truant
detergent   washing powder
diapers   nappies
dishwashing liquid   washing up liquid
drapes   curtains
drunk driving   drink-driving
elevator   lift
emcee   compere
eraser   !rubber
faucet   tap
Ferris wheel   big wheel
fish sticks   fish fingers
flashlight   torch
free time   spare time
freeway / turnpike   motorway
French fries   chips
garbage   rubbish
garters   !suspenders
gas   petrol
grippe   flu
ground beef   minced beef
first floor   ground floor
highway   main road
hood   bonnet
intersection   crossroads
janitor   caretaker
jelly   jam
knapsack   rucksack
motorway exit   ramp
movie   film
movie theater   cinema
moving van   removal van
nail polish   nail varnish
oatmeal   porridge
pacifier   dummy
!pants   knickers
panty hose   tights
parking lot
  car park
parking meter attendant   traffic warden
pitcher   jug
private school   public school
public holiday   bank holiday3
purse   handbag
ramp1
  slip road
recess   break (play time)
report card   school report
! rubber !   condom
rubber boots   wellies / wellingtons
run   ladder
scallion   spring onion
Scotch tape   Sellotape
sedan   saloon car
seeing eye dog   guide dog
sidewalk   pavement
*sink   basin
skillet   frying-pan
slicker   mackintosh
stick shift   manual (cars)
stocks   shares
street light   lamp post
streetcar   tram
student   pupil
!suspenders   braces
sweater   jumper
taps   last post
thumbtack   drawing-pin
toilet   !toilet (but the loo not the room)
trash   rubbis
trashcan   dustbin
trolley car   tram
truck   lorry
trunk   boot
undershirt   vest
vacation   holiday
vacuum cleaner   hoover
washcloth   flannel
windshield   windscreen
yard   garden
zip code   postcode
zipper   zip


1
- When used to talk about roads and motorways. Someone I know took over 4 hours to complete a 25 minute drive, because he didn't know what his sat nav system meant when it said "Take the ramp".

2 - When a Brit hears the word "yard" in connection with houses, we think of a concrete area, usually full of building materials, or work tools.

3 - Bank holidays have to follow certain rules, otherwise they are also known as public holidays in the UK. You can read more about what makes a bank holiday in the British Culture section.

!Note - *if the sink is in the kitchen - it's a sink, but if it's in the bathroom it's a basin.

Another huge difference that causes great confusion is writing the date. When you write the date in numbers British and American English differ. To write the date 7th of September 2007 a Brit would write dd/mm/yy (07/09/07) and an American would write mm/dd/yy (09/07/07). This often causes great confusion. It's better to write the date in full (7th September 2007 or September 7th 2007). It also looks nicer.

Spelling

-ise vs -ize

! - watch out! These words could prove embarassing.

-er vs -re

Words like center / centre.

 

Do you know any more? Let us know on G+

Click here for a collection of common mistakes and their explanation.

Click here for more mistakes

Click here for a collection of real horror mistakes made by some of the best known companies in the world.

Click here for a collection of medical howlers.

(Thanks to Hermine, Naveen and Sally for a couple of additions on the forum and Facebook. (And thanks to Stuart from the English club for admitting his error.)

"We have really everything in common with America nowadays, except, of course, language." Oscar Wilde

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