British English

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British English is the kind of English language which is used in the United Kingdom and countries that used to be in the British Empire.

Pronunciation in British English[change | change source]

In the United Kingdom, many different people say words in different ways. For example: a man from a place near London may not say his "r"s the same as a man from Scotland or a man from Northern Ireland. In fact, people's languages are different across the UK, depending on the area you are in. For example, in Wales one might speak Welsh or in Ireland, Irish (although the Republic of Ireland is not part of the UK). Across the country the accent is different. For instance in Liverpool one speaks with a "scouse" accent or in London one speaks with a "cockney" accent. Different variations on all of British English exist from the manner in which words are pronounced to the manner in which they are spelt. One place people speak English in a different way is Cornwall, where the Cornish dialect is spoken.

Spelling in British English[change | change source]

British English often keeps more traditional ways of spelling words than American English.

  • Some British English words end in "re" that are often simplified to "er" in American English.
British English: centre, litre, metre.
American English: center, liter, meter.
  • Some British English words end in "our" and are simplified to "or" in American English.
British English: colour, favour, honour, labour
American English: color, favor, honor, labor
  • Some British English words the have come originally from the Greek language use "ph". This has been changed to "f" in some other languages.
British English: Sulphur, not Sulfur
  • Some words in British English use "s" where "z" is used in American English.
British English: colonisation, realisation, organisation
American English: colonization, realization, organization
  • The word "gray" is also a special case, as it can be spelled "gray" in American English and "grey" in British English.
  • Many of these rules are also used in other countries outside of the United Kingdom, mostly in countries that are members in the Commonwealth of Nations.

Vocabulary in British English[change | change source]

In British English, "dock" refers to the water in the space between two "piers" or "wharfs". In American English, the "pier" or "wharf" could be called a "dock", and the water between would be a "slip".

Some simpler differences:

British – American

  • accelerator – throttle
  • autumn – fall
  • biscuit – cookie
  • bonnet – hood (of a car)
  • boot – trunk (of a car)
  • bum, arse – butt, ass
  • car – automobile
  • caravan – trailer, mobile home
  • chips – French fries
  • courgette – zucchini
  • crisps – chips
  • face flannel – washcloth
  • flat – apartment
  • football – soccer
  • garden – yard
  • handbag – purse
  • jumper – sweater
  • lift – elevator
  • lorry – truck
  • manual gearbox – stick shift
  • metro, underground, tube – subway
  • motorway – freeway
  • mum – mom
  • nappy – diaper
  • number plate – license plate
  • pants - underpants
  • pavement – sidewalk
  • pram – stroller
  • petrol – gas or gasoline
  • phone box - phone booth
  • post – mail, mailbox
  • railway – railroad
  • shifting – moving
  • shopping trolley – shopping cart
  • surname – last name
  • take-away – take-out
  • tap – faucet
  • trousers – pants
  • to let – to rent
  • torch – flashlight
  • tram – streetcar

Usage in different countries[change | change source]

British English, when referring to globally Commonwealth English, is a official Language in every English speaking country excluding The United States of America. American English is only a official language in The United States of America and Canada (less common, due to British Influence). Although Commonwealth English is the most spoken, American English is seen more often over the internet, due to the very large population, and large internet prone population. All Commonwealth Nations including Europe and Africa learn Commonwealth English, while American English is often learnt in the Americas (excluding commonwealth nations) and China. Z pronounced 'Zee' is only seen in the U.S.A and less commonly in Canada, while Z pronounced 'Zed' is spoken almost everywhere else. The United Kingdom and Ireland use British Layout Keyboards, while Australia, South Africa, Canada, New Zealand and the U.S.A use American Layout Keyboards.

Other websites[change | change source]