Living in England for almost four years now has been pretty incredible. However, when I first arrived I didn’t realize how much of a difference the English language is spoken here. My thinking was, well I’m going to an English-speaking country so I don’t need to learn about any language differences. Wrong. There are a plethora of British and American English differences. Since living here, I’ve learned so much about British words, phrases, and culture.
It’s good to learn about other people’s cultures so that you can know how to respect them and implement their culture, especially if you’re an expat (foreigner) living in their country. Since I’ve been in the US Air Force, it has allowed me to travel to different countries and meet people from all walks of life. Most of the time, before I traveled to a foreign country, we had to learn some of the country’s customs and a few words to get us by.
In this post, I will break down the British words vs. American words categorized on pretty charts. I’ll also give short and sweet explanations of the differences in British English vs. American English and its context.
So if you are thinking of moving to England or visiting for leisure, then reading this post will prepare you for what to expect and how to talk to the British people.
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What is the difference between British English and American English accent?
Fun fact, most of the time, the locals will not know your American until you start talking. That’s how big of a difference our English accent is from theirs. Because once you start talking, they will be like, “oh, you ain’t from here.”
British words vs. American words – Food in England
Let’s start with food, shall we? Food in England is quite different than the food in America. Some items are very similar but are different names in British English. Going to the grocery store or supermarket (British) could be challenging when you first enter. That’s because some items that you’re used to seeing in America are called something different here in England. Especially in the produce section.
As you walk down the aisle, you may look at a vegetable and say to yourself, “well, it looks like Green Onions, but it says Spring Onions.” Let me reassure you that it is the same; it’s just in British words vs. American words. That’s just the beginning, my friends.
See the list below for examples of British vs. American English.
British English vs. American English – Housing in England
Next, we will get into housing and how British and American words are different. For instance, while browsing the internet looking for a house or a place to rent, you will see some British words on there, and you may think, “what the heck do they mean by flat or garden”?
Well, that’s why I’m here to let you in on what those words mean.
See the list below on British words vs English words about housing in England.
British vs American English – Transportation in England
There are so many differences in British words vs American words regarding transportation systems in England. First off, they drive on the left-hand side of the road.
Secondly, most of the rules and signs of the road are different in England vs America. For example, in America, the red triangle road sign is Yield. However, in the UK, the same sign is Give Way.
If you say, “what’s your license plate number,” you will confuse the Brits because they say “number plate.” Those are just a few instances. See my other post about the culture and driving differences in England. See it here.
Look at the chart below for more British words vs American words for transportation.
British words vs American words – Shopping & Restaurants
Shopping in England is fun yet can be daunting because of the differences in British words vs American words. For one, if you need a basket or shopping cart to carry your items in, then you need to ask for a “trolley.”
Additionally, going out to eat at a restaurant is a unique experience. If you are eating and waiting for them to bring you the check, you will be sitting there forever. Here is what you’ll do. When you finish with your food, you’ll have to ask for the bill vs a check. Why is this such a cultural difference? I have no clue. But in hindsight, asking for the bill kinda makes sense.
See the list below for other British words vs American words that’ll be helpful for days out shopping and eating. Plus, I’ve added a few other words you’ll need to know while out and about in England.
Shopping & Restaurants Chart
British words vs American words – Random words in England
Last but not least, here I have some random British vs American words and phrases that were hard to fit in just one category. Some of these British words might blow your mind like, a diaper in American English is called a nappy in British English.
Another British word that you may have never heard before is peckish. So if you hear a Brit say, “I’m feeling peckish,” that means that they are hungry and ready to eat.
Another British word that’s highly used here in England is cheers. Cheers, of course, is a word that everyone in America and around the world is familiar with hearing. People mostly hear cheers when someone is clink-clink glasses together with a bunch of friends before drinking that liquid goodness of alcohol.
However, in England, you will hear the Brits frequently use this word as a greeting, a goodbye, or even as a thank you. Pretty interesting, right?
Anywho, check out the rest of the list below of random British words vs American words.
Random British Words List
That’s it. That was fun, wasn’t it? This post is not an all-inclusive list of British words vs American words, but it is an excellent start for what you’ll encounter on a regular basis while living in England.
Do you have anything to add? I would love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below.
Pin any of these charts for your reference for later.