Ask Difference

American English vs. British English — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Published on October 17, 2023
American English and British English are dialects of the English language, differing in pronunciation, vocabulary, spelling, and some grammar rules. Each is standard in the USA and the UK, respectively.
American English vs. British English — What's the Difference?

Difference Between American English and British English


Key Differences

American English is a version of the English language spoken primarily in the United States of America. It encompasses numerous accents, dialects, and language norms that are considered standard and widely accepted within the country. British English, conversely, is a variant spoken primarily in the United Kingdom and comes with its own set of standards, accentuating different pronunciation, terminology, and sometimes, spelling.
In the realm of pronunciation, American English often exhibits certain distinctions that make it immediately recognizable to speakers of other English variants. British English, similarly, is identifiable by its own unique pronunciation characteristics, such as a non-rhotic speech in some of its regional dialects, which is often a standout feature to non-native speakers.
When discussing vocabulary, American English tends to employ different words for certain items and concepts in contrast to British English. For instance, the back of a car is referred to as the "trunk" in American English, while in British English, it is known as the "boot". This distinction in terminology extends to various everyday items and expressions, highlighting notable differences in the language.
Spelling divergences are also prominent between American English and British English. A common observation lies in the American preference for “-or” endings in words like “color,” whereas British English opts for “-our” endings, as in “colour”. The disparities extend to other words, presenting a rich variance in the way words are spelled in both dialects.
Grammatically, American English and British English share vast similarities, but subtle differences do emerge. American English, for instance, uses the past simple form of the verb in some contexts where British English would use the present perfect. These grammatical nuances showcase how both have evolved uniquely while maintaining a largely mutual intelligibility.

Comparison Chart


Color, flavor, traveled
Colour, flavour, travelled


Trunk, faucet, apartment
Boot, tap, flat


Rhotic (in most regions)
Non-rhotic (in some regions)

Date Format


Collective Nouns

Treated as singular
Treated as plural

Compare with Definitions

American English

A collective of various regional U.S. accents and expressions.
Different regions in the U.S. showcase diverse accents in American English.

British English

A language form maintaining certain traditional English norms.
British English has retained some spellings that American English has altered.

American English

A communication medium in American academia and media.
American English is utilized as the standard for many international businesses.

British English

The English dialect primarily spoken in the United Kingdom.
Lorry is a term used in British English to refer to a truck.

American English

A linguistic form characterized by certain pronunciation norms.
In American English, schedule is often pronounced with a sk sound.

British English

A standard for communication in British academia and media.
British English uses the “-ise” ending in words like “realise”.

American English

A dialect of English spoken mainly in the United States.
American English often uses “z” in words like “realize”.

British English

A linguistic variant notable for certain pronunciation characteristics.
British English often pronounces schedule with a sh sound.

American English

A representation of culture and linguistics of America.
Soccer is a term used in American English for association football.

British English

A dialect showcasing various UK regional accents and lexicons.
In British English, biscuit is the equivalent of the American cookie.

Common Curiosities

Is British English the same as English English?

British English encompasses all English dialects in the UK, while English English pertains specifically to England.

Can American English speakers understand British English, and vice versa?

Yes, they are generally mutually intelligible, though some slang or idioms might be confusing.

What is American English?

American English is a variant of the English language spoken in the United States.

How does British English differ from American English?

British English differs in aspects like spelling, pronunciation, vocabulary, and certain grammar rules.

Why do American English and British English have spelling differences?

Differences have emerged over time due to influences like Webster’s Dictionary in the US, which advocated for simplified spellings.

Is one English better or more correct than the other?

No, both are valid and simply represent different linguistic evolutions and standards.

What is the Oxford comma in American English?

The Oxford comma is used after the penultimate item in a list of three or more items, before "and" or "or".

Which countries use American English as a standard?

The United States and its territories primarily use American English.

What is Received Pronunciation?

Received Pronunciation (RP) is a standard accent of British English, often associated with the southern British upper class.

Which countries follow British English norms?

Many countries, especially former British colonies like India, tend to follow British English norms.

Is the Oxford comma used in British English?

Usage of the Oxford comma in British English is less consistent and often comes down to stylistic choices or specific style guides.

Can I use American English in British institutions, and vice versa?

While both are generally understood, adherence to local conventions might be preferred in formal or academic contexts.

Does American English have a standard accent?

There is no single standard accent in American English due to its diverse regional dialects.

Are British English and American English written the same way?

They share many similarities but also have notable differences in spelling and terminology.

How have American English and British English evolved differently?

Divergence has been influenced by factors like immigration, colonial history, and interactions with other languages.

Share Your Discovery

Share via Social Media
Embed This Content
Embed Code
Share Directly via Messenger
Previous Comparison
Zip Code vs. Postal Code

Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

Popular Comparisons

Trending Comparisons

New Comparisons

Trending Terms