British English

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The English language originates in England and is widely spoken throughout most countries that were historically part of the British Empire. English is one of the most used languages in the world, especially for business and finance.

Pronunciation Within the United Kingdom[change | change source]

In the United Kingdom, the pronunciation varies with local dialect, despite the spelling remain the same for all educated English speaking regions and nations pronunciation variation is common. For example, a man from a place near London may not pronounce his "r"s the same as a man from Scotland or a man from Northern Ireland. Across the country, the accent is different. For instance, in Liverpool, people may speak with a "scouse" accent, in Birmingham with a "brummie" accent, and in London with a "cockney" accent.


Spelling in English[change | change source]

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

  • Some British English words end in "re", because the words were originally taken from French. They are often simplified to "er" in American English
English: centre, litre, metre.
American English: center, liter, meter.
  • Some English words end in "our" and are simplified to "or" in American English. The English spelling also came from the French language.
English: colour, favour, honour, labour
American English: color, favor, honor, labor
  • Some English words that have originally come from the Greek language use "ph". This has been changed to "f" in some other languages.
English: Sulphur
American English: Sulfur
  • Some words in English use "s" where "z" is used in American English. However, usage of the "z" can also be occasionally seen in British English, in words such as "citizen".
English: colonisation, realisation, organisation
American English: colonization, realization, organization
  • The word "gray" is also a special case, as it is normally spelled "gray" in American English and "grey" in British English. However, "gray" is also used in Britain, and "grey" is also used in America.
  • 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 English[change | change source]

In 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 common differences:

English – American

  • accelerator – throttle
  • autumn – fall
  • biscuit – cookie
  • bonnet – hood (of a car)
  • boot – trunk (of a car)
  • bum – butt
  • 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
  • shopping trolley – shopping cart
  • take-away – take-out
  • trousers – pants - Only Superman wears his pants outside of his trousers
  • torch – flashlight
  • tram – streetcar

Usage in different countries[change | change source]

American English is used in the United States. In Canada, the accent sounds extremely similar to American English but with few exceptions (see Canadian English). The American spelling in Canada is sometimes used, but traditionally, the British Spelling (with the exceptions of some words like programme, -isation/-ise/-isable, chilli, etc.) is used. Although Commonwealth English is the most spoken, American English is seen more often on the internet. American English vocabulary dominates the visual media: "movies" (British: "films") and television.

All Commonwealth nations and Africa learn Commonwealth English, while American English is often learnt in the Americas, Japan and South Korea. 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. In continental Europe English as a second language is nowadays sometimes taught in American English, except perhaps in Scandinavia and the Netherlands where British English is taught.

Other websites[change | change source]