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 How are British English and American English different?

Can you recognise the difference between an American or British accent or word? There are many similarities between American and British English. But some words are different. In this video, Ashley (from the USA) and Ellie (from England) will show you some of these. Afterwards, you can try our little test to see how much you can remember. So, how are British English and American English different? Watch the video and find out!


How much can you remember? Let’s see. Complete the sentences with the correct American (US) or British words (UK).


1 I like playing football. (UK)
I like _______. (US)
2 I ate some crisps. (UK)
I ate some _______. (US)
3 I like fish and chips. (UK)
I like fish and _______. (US)
4 My favourite vegetable is an aubergine. (UK)
My favourite vegetable is an _______. (US)
5 I like chocolate biscuits. (UK)
I like chocolate _______. (US)
6 I saw a film the other day. (UK)
And I saw a _______. (US)
7 I wear my wellies in the rain. (UK) [also, Wellington boots]
And I wear my _______. (US)
8 Would you like some sweets? (UK)
No, but would you like some _______? (US)
9 I used a torch to see in the dark. (UK)
I used a _______. (US)
10 I’ve got a new pair of trousers. (UK)
I have some new _______. (US)
11 My brother is wearing some black pants. (UK)
My brother is wearing some black _______. (US)
12 My zip is broken. (UK)
My _______ is broken. (US)
13 I put on my track suit bottoms. (UK)
I put on my _______. (US)
14 I’ve got some Nike trainers. (UK)
I have some Nike _______. (US)
15 I used a tea towel to dry the dishes. (UK)
I used a _______. (US)
16 I need a spanner to fix the bike. (UK)
I need a _______. (US)
Video script
Ashley: Hi, I’m Ashley, and I’m American.
Ellie: And my name is Ellie, and I am from England. And today we are talking about the differences between British English…
A: …and American English.
E: So, first things first. What is this?
A: Easy, this is a soccer ball.
E: Soccer ball, no this is a football!
A: A football?! That is not a football!
E: It’s a football because you kick it with your feet. Next!
A: Alright, what would you call these?
E: Those are crisps, obviously.
A: Chips, these are chips.
E: Those are not chips. OK, if those are chips, then what do you call these?
A: Fries, those are fries.
E: These are chips. Chips…crisps!
A: Those are fries. Ok.
E: That is an aubergine, my friend.
A: I’ve never even heard of an aubergine. This is an eggplant.
E: What about this, says “egg” to you?
A: I don’t know the origins, but that is an eggplant.
E: It is an aubergine. Ok, next? Biscuits, obviously.
A: This is not a biscuit. These are cookies.
E: Those are not cookies!
A: A biscuit is what you eat in the morning. A cookie is a sweet snack.
E: What do you mean? No, these are biscuits. Ok, what about this? A DVD, you go to the cinema and see a what?
A: Movie.
E: Film.
A: Move. I’m going to the movies.
E: Ok, But I would go and see a film. OK, what about this? What would you call that?
A: It’s a rain boot. A boot, for the rain.
E: That’s so basic! Americans are so basic! This is a wellington. A welly.
A: You guys have to be so proper all the time.
E: No! It’s raining, you get your wellies, you go outside.
A: Would you like a piece of candy?
E: No, but I would like a sweet, thank you very much.
A: Well, I’m going to have a piece of candy.
E: Ok, here’s a good one. What about this?
A: Oh, that’s a flashlight.
E: This is a torch.
A: A torch is with fire!
E: A torch is not with fire! This is a torch.
A: That is a flashlight. Absolutely. Oh, this is a good one.
E: My favorite! Those are pants.
A: These are underwear. These are pants.
E: No, these are trousers.
A: trousers?
E: These are pants. These are trousers. If you go to the UK, and you say “I’d like some new pants, they’re going to show you these, not these.
A: Well, those are underwear, these are pants, and this, is a zip. A zipper.
E: A zip.
A: You zip the zipper. Zip is a verb.
E: You do up the zip.
A: Do up? Oh, my goodness. Ok, what are these?
E: Track suit bottoms.
A: sweatpants. sweatpants.
E: No, because you wear them as a track suit
A: You just wear them when you’re lounging, their sweatpants. When you’re relaxing, you put on a pair of sweatpants.
E: Ok, if you have a top, it’s a track suit. And then you have track suit bottoms.
A: Strange, strange
E: Obviously, so to work out, what do you wear?
A: I would just wear a tennis shoe.
  1. Trainers.
A: No, tennis shoe.
E: Tennis shoe? Don’t you say like, sneakers?
A: Oh, you could call those sneakers too. Either one.
E: They’re definitely trainers, you wear shoes in order to train.
A: I think that trainers are a type of sneaker, but sneakers are the broad name for it.
E: Ok, this item. After you do washing up.
A: I would wash my dishes with the dish towel.
E: Tea towel.
A: If it’s in the kitchen, why tea towel?
E: Cause, it’s a tea towel. I don’t know, we’re British. Tea, everything. Put tea in it.
A: Sure.
E: Makes sense! What’s that?
A: A wrench!
E: A spanner.
A: A wrench!
E: spanner. Never heard of the word spanner?
A: I’ve literally never heard the word spanner. I would call this a wrench.
E: Ok, definitely a spanner. Have we got everything?
A: I think that’s everything. So, I don’t know, maybe we need to let the audience decide what’s correct.
E: If you have ay words that you’ve heard from a British person or an American person and thought “we don’t call it that,” let us know down below in the comments. Thanks for joining us!
A: Bye!
E: Bye!
  1. soccer; 2. chips; 3. French fries / fries; 4. eggplant; 5. cookies; 6. movie; 7. rain boots; 8. candy; 9. flashlight; 10. pants; 11. underwear; 12. zipper; 13. sweatpants; 14. sneakers / tennis shoes; 15. dish towel; 16. wrench



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