Differences between British and American English

When you write in English you should decide whether to use British or American. Some companies have a policy about this, but many do not. Either way, you should aim to be consistent throughout a piece of writing.

The table below is divided into the following categories: Words (arranged thematically), Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation. It is by no means a complete list, but contains some of the more common and useful differences between the two dialects of English.

For more information see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_American_and_British_English and the suggested links.

 

BRITISH

 

AMERICAN

WORDS (UK)

WORDS (US)

CLOTHES (UK)

CLOTHES (US)

waistcoat

vest

trousers

pants

braces (straps to support trousers)

suspenders

jumper

pinafore / pinafore dress

tights

leggings

trainers (shoes)

vest

undershirt

pants

underpants / briefs

suspenders

garter

sweater

jumper

pantyhose

tights

sneakers

COMMUNICATIONS (UK)

COMMUNICATIONS (US)

mobile / mobile phone

post code

to post

letter box / post box

phone me on this number

he will write to me

cell / cell phone

zip code

to mail

mailbox

call me at this number

he will write me

DATE & TIME (UK)

DATE & TIME (US)

20 August 2014

20/8/14

the twentieth of August

Monday to Friday (inclusive)

he went on Friday

the sale starts on Monday

at the weekend

quarter to four

quarter past four

August 20, 2014

8/20/14

August (the) twentieth

Monday through Friday

he went on Friday / he went Friday

the sale starts Monday

on the weekend

quarter of four / quarter to four

quarter after four / quarter past four

EDUCATION & SPORTS (UK)

EDUCATION & SPORTS (US)

school / college / university

state school

maths (i.e. mathematics)

archaeology

sports teacher

in a team

football

American football

hockey

ice hockey

I often watch sport on TV.

Did you watch the match?

school

public school

math

archeology

coach

on a team

soccer

football

field hockey

hockey

I often watch sports on TV.

Did you watch the game?

FOOD (UK)

FOOD (US)

entrée / starter

main course

pudding / dessert

blancmange

sweets

chips

crisps

biscuit

scone

courgette

pepper (the vegetable, not the spice)

aubergine

starter

entrée / main course

dessert

pudding

candy

fries / French fries

chips

cookie

biscuit

zucchini

capsicum

eggplant

HOME & FAMILY (UK)

HOME & FAMILY (US)

cooker

to grill

toilet / loo / lavatory

tap (for water)

have a bath

mummy (mother)

dummy

nappy

pushchair / buggy

cupboard / wardrobe

duvet

plaster

condom

rubber

torch

spanner

rubbish

rubbish bin

dustbin

garden

autumn

ill

doctor’s surgery

stove

to broil

washroom / bathroom / restroom

faucet

take a bath

mommy

pacifier

diaper

stroller / buggy

closet

quilt / comforter

Band-Aid

rubber

eraser

flashlight

wrench

trash / garbage

trash can

waste basket

yard

fall

sick

doctor’s office

HUMAN EMOTIONS (UK)

HUMAN EMOTIONS (US)

clever

angry

mean

unpleasant / unkind

smart

mad

stingy / miserly / selfish

mean

LAND AND BUILDINGS (UK)

LAND AND BUILDINGS (US)

plot (of land)

(real) property

council housing

terraced house

flat / apartment

semi-detached house / split-level apartment

lift

ground floor

first floor etc.

lot

real estate

housing project

townhouse / row house

apartment

duplex

elevator

first floor

second floor etc.

LAW (UK)

LAW (US)

barrister  / solicitor

claimant

competition law

company

articles of association

appeal against the decision

attorney

plaintiff

antitrust law

corporation / company

(corporation’s) bylaws

appeal against the decision / appeal the decision

MONEY (UK)

MONEY (US)

bill (e.g. for a restaurant meal)

note (paper money)

cheque

current account

cash machine

hire purchase

instalment

accountancy

check / tab

bill

check

checking account

ATM (automated teller machine)

installment plan

installment

accounting

SHOPPING & ENTERTAINMENT (UK)

SHOPPING & ENTERTAINMENT (US)

queue

shop assistant

shop

off-licence

chemist

trolley

jeweller / jewellery

film

cinema

advertisements (on TV)

theatre

line

(sales) clerk

store

liquor store

drug store

shopping cart / wagon

jeweler / jewelry

movie

movie theater

commercials

theater

TRANSPORT (UK)

TRANSPORT (US)

centre

kilometre

traveller / travelling

licence (noun) / license (verb)

car

bonnet

boot

windscreen

mudguard / wing

tyre

racing car

sailing boat

mobile home

lorry

articulated lorry

petrol

paraffin

motorway

dual carriageway

roundabout

tarmac

pavement

car park

multi-storey car park

railway

wagon

subway

underground (railway) / tube

center

kilometer

traveler / traveling

license (noun & verb)

car / automobile

hood

trunk

windshield

fender

tire

racecar

sailboat

recreational vehicle (RV)

truck

semi-trailer truck

gas / gasoline

kerosene

highway / freeway

divided highway

traffic circle

pavement / blacktop

sidewalk

parking lot

parking garage

railroad

freight car

pedestrian tunnel

subway

WORK (UK)

WORK (US)

labour

curriculum vitae / CV

laptop

filing cabinet

dialling tone

holiday

fill in a form

labor

résumé

notebook (computer)

file cabinet

dial tone

break / vacation

fill out a form

SPELLING (UK)

SPELLING (US)

centre

kilometre

recognise / recognize

organisation / organization

etc.

colour

neighbour

honour

favour

traveller / travelling

jeweller / jewellery

fulfil

instalment

licence (noun) / license (verb)

defence

practice (noun) / practise (verb)

learnt / learned

spelt / spelled

spoilt /spoiled

programme / program

plough

tyre

center

kilometer

recognize

organization

etc.

color

neighbor

honor

favor

traveler / traveling

jeweler / jewelry

fulfill

installment

license (noun & verb)

defense

practice (noun & verb)

learned

spelled

spoiled

program

plow

tire

GRAMMAR (UK)

GRAMMAR (US)

The government is / are considering the issue.

The committee is / are undecided.

appeal against the decision

Has he left yet?

Have you seen John?

They’ve got a new house.

Come and see what I’ve bought.

I often watch sport on TV.

Did you watch the match?

have a bath

at the weekend

he went on Friday

the sale starts on Monday

behind

in a team

different to / from

named after somebody

phone me on this number

he will write to me

fill in a form

The government is considering the issue.

The committee is undecided.

appeal against the decision / appeal the decision

Did he leave yet?

Did you see John?

They’ve gotten a new house.

Come see what I bought.

I often watch sports on TV.

Did you watch the game?

take a bath

on the weekend

he went on Friday / he went Friday

the sale starts Monday

behind / in back of

on a team

different than / from

named for somebody

call me at this number

he will write me

fill out a form

PUNCTUATION (UK)

PUNCTUATION (US)

full stop

brackets

hash sign (i.e. #)

pound sign (i.e. £)

Mr Smith

Ms Jones

Dear Jane, (starting an email or letter)

1990s

We have six phones, five computers and a printer.

He said, ‘See you tomorrow’. / He said, “See you tomorrow”.

period

parentheses

pound sign

British currency symbol

Mr. Smith

Ms. Jones

Dear Jane:

1990’s

We have six phones, five computers, and a printer.

He said, “See you tomorrow.”

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