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American vs. British English – Which one do you use?

Today kicks off FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and on November 25, there is a match between the United States and England. Did you know that these two countries use different names for the sport? The United States calls it “soccer”, while England calls it “football”. 

These word differences along with many others can confuse English learners. If you’re an English teacher, you should encourage your students to choose one type of English over the other for consistency and to avoid further confusion. 

Let’s take a look at 20 word differences between American and British English. 

1. Cookie vs. Biscuit

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American English: I’d like a chocolate chip cookie please. 

British English: I always take biscuits with my tea. 

2. Trunk vs. Boot

American English: Put my backpack in the trunk, please. 

British English: Could you open up the boot?

3. French Fries vs. Chips

American English: I need some more ketchup for my french fries.

British English: These chips are absolutely delicious with that tartar sauce.

4. Trash/Garbage vs. Rubbish

American English: Leave the trash out after 10pm for it to get picked up the next morning. 

British English: There’s rubbish everywhere, this place is filthy! 

5. Movie vs. Film

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American English: That movie was the best one I’ve seen all year. 

British English: Want to go to the cinema to watch a film tonight?

6. Apartment vs. Flat

American English: My apartment is on the 7th floor. 

British English: Would you like to come check out my flat?

7. Yard vs. Garden

American English: I’m planting a variety of flowers in my yard

British English: The vegetables in my garden are growing quite nicely. 

8. First Floor vs. Ground Floor

American English: Please wait for me on the first floor.

British English: Your package is on the ground floor.

9. Vacation vs. Holiday

American English: I need a vacation

British English: This is the best holiday I’ve had!

10. Sick vs. Ill

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American English: I won’t be able to go to work today, I’m feeling really sick.

British English: I think that soup made me ill.

11. Elevator vs. Lift

American English: The elevator’s broken, let’s take the stairs.

British English: Take the lift to the tenth floor, then turn right.

12. Crazy vs. Mad

American English: That’s a crazy story!

British English: Are you mad? You can’t drink that, it’ll kill you!

13. Gas vs. Petrol

American English: My car’s out of gas

British English: Can you fill up the petrol?

14. Mailman vs. Postman

American English: Did the mailman come by this morning?

British English: Tell the postman to leave the package by the door. 

15. Potato Chips vs. Crisps

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American English: What’s your favorite flavor of potato chips?

British English: I’d like some crisps with that. 

16. Bar vs. Pub

American English: Let’s go get a drink at the bar

British English: Where’s the nearest pub?

17. Dessert vs. Sweet

American English: That was a great meal. I’m ready for dessert!

British English: Let’s go for your favorite sweet

18. Pants vs. Trousers

American English: I love your new pair of pants!

British English: I need to buy another pair of trousers

19. Closet vs. Wardrobe

American English: Can you grab my jacket in the closet

British English: She has the biggest wardrobe I’ve ever seen with over 100 pairs of shoes.

20. Subway vs. Tube

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American English: I don’t like using the subway in the morning because it’s too crowded. 

British English: I usually listen to a podcast while I’m on the tube.

Are there any other words you know that are different between American English and British English? Share them in the comments below! 

For those soccer/football fans out there, enjoy the start of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022!

Ellier Leng
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