American English vs British English – what’s the difference? Well, there are 3 main ways that these groups of English speakers disagree.

American English vs British English 1: words

First, vocabulary. Some words in British English (like “bin”) are completely different in the USA (“trash”/”garbage”). There are a lot of words like this – and you can try these out in our Great Quiz of American English vs British English.
(If you’re interested in knowing why this happened, check out this fascinating video from Open University.)

American English vs British English 2. Writing

Secondly, spelling. The main difference here is the letter u. Words like “humour” and”colour” are, here, spelled in the British English way. In the US, the u is absent. These words are spelled “humor” and “color”.

American English vs British English 3. Speaking

The last – and probably the most confusing – difference between American English and British English is how we speak.
Not only do the 2 groups of English speakers use different words (and different slang), but the way some words are pronounced are also different. This can make things confusing – for learners, yes, but even for British people and people from the USA!

To help, why not study a small group of words which are often pronounced differently? We at English42 will show you 8 common words which American and British people pronounce differently. The first words will be short and simple, while the last words will be longer and difficult.

One last thing. To understand this chart, it helps to know about the International Photemic Alphabet (IPA). This is an international system which shows how words are pronounced. (Often, as you know, the difference between pronunciation and spelling in English is crazy – just look at the word “should”!)
The IPA uses strange-looking symbols to represent different sounds. You can see it anytime you look up a word in an English dictionary. We will use it here to show you how the words sound different in American English vs British English.

Here are the words (why not download the picture for yourself?)

american english british english

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