British and American English

These two kinds of English are very similar. There are a few differences of grammar and spelling, and rather more differences of vocabulary. Pronunciation is sometimes very different, but most British and American speakers can understand each other.

  • Grammar US
    He just went home.
    Do you have a problem?
    I’ve never really gotten to know him.
    It’s important that he be told.
    (on the telephone) Hello, is this Harold?
    It looks like it’s going to rain.
    He looked at me real strange, (informal)
    GB
    He’s just gone home.
    Have you got a problem?
    I’ve never really got to know him.
    It’s important that he should be told.
    Hello, is that Harold?
    It looks as if it’s going to rain.
    He looked at me really strangely.
  • Vocabulary
    There are very many differences. Sometimes the same word has different meanings (GB mad = ‘crazy’; US mad = ‘angry’). Often different words are used for the same idea (GB lorry; US truck). Here are a few examples:

    us GB US GB
    apartment flat second floor first floor
    cab taxi french fries chips
    can tin garbage rubbish
    candy sweets or trash
    check bill (/n a restaurant) gas(oline) petrol
    closet cupboard highway main road
    or cabinet intersection crossroads
    cookie biscuit mad angry
    corn maize mail post
    crazy mad motor engine
    elevator lift movie film ,
    fall autumn one-way single (ticket)
    first floor ground floor pants trousers

    US GB US GB
    pavement road surface store shop
    potato chips crisps subway underground
    railroad railway truck lorry
    round-trip return (ticket) vacation holiday(s)
    sidewalk pavement zipper zip

    Expressions with prepositions and particles:
    US
    check something out do something over fill in/out a form meet with somebody visit with somebody Monday through Friday home Mondays
    GB
    check something do something again fill in a form meet somebody visit somebody Monday to Friday at home on Mondays

  • Spelling

    US GB US GB
    aluminum aluminium jewelry jewellery
    analyze analyse labor labour
    catalog catalogue pajamas pyjamas
    center centre practice practise (verb)
    check cheque (from a bank) program programme
    color colour theater theatre
    defense defence tire tyre (on a car)
    honor honour traveler traveller

    Many verbs end in -ize in American English, but in -ise or -ize in British English. For example: US realize / GB realise or realize.