British English

Differentiating British English from American English can be headache-inducing even if you’ve used English for most of your life. This is because while both versions share the same roots and similar grammatical principles, there are still very important differences to point out. According to published data, 69% of students often mix British English with American English, especially when reading texts aloud. 80% of people also place TV and film as their top influences when it comes to learning pronunciation, leading to further confusion.

Additional statistics from 2021 indicate that there has also been an Americanization of the British English language in recent years which has slowly seeped into UK society. This led people aged 0-29 in the UK to use up to 70% of Americanized words in verbal communication, while ages 60-99 use about 35% of Americanized words. This is also the effect of mass media and entertainment, not to mention increased migrations leading to small but significant changes in British English over the years.

If you’re preparing to move to the UK or work in a UK-based company, you need to understand the differences between the two. While UK employers will be more than understanding if you mix the two at first, you should try to learn British English language principles sooner rather than later. You can use Jobs OneGlobe to find work in the UK easily and then start sprucing up your language skills before heading abroad. Let’s take a look at some major differences between the two so that you can adjust to life in the UK more easily.

Words and Phrases in British English vs American English

Let’s start with the basics so that we can have a better understanding of what makes British English different than American English in practice. Based on recent research, there are four major areas in which these two versions of English diverge from one another:

  • Vocabulary – words are completely different
  • Grammar – words are arranged differently in sentences
  • Spelling – words are pronounced the same way but written differently
  • Pronunciation – words are written the same way but pronounced differently

As someone who is learning English to find a job in the UK or further their academic career, you may run into issues differentiating the two. If you are not in the US or UK-based college or company, you may not have to think about which version you’re using that much. But, working and living in the UK does constitute that you use British English as much as possible to fit in with locals and colleagues. The example of eggplant VS aubergine illustrates the difference between the two very well. Let’s tackle some major vocabulary differences between the two so that you can have a better idea of which words and phrases to use in the UK.

We have really everything in common with America nowadays, except, of course, language.” – Oscar Wilde

Major Vocabulary Differences – British / American

1. chips / fries
2. car park / parking lot
3. biscuit / cookie
4. caravan / trailer
5. driving licence / driver’s license
6. dustbin / trash can
7. flat / apartment
8. holiday / vacation
9. lift / elevator
10. lorry / truck
11. main road / highway
12. maize / corn
13. pavement / sidewalk
14. post / mail
15. railway / railroad
16. pub / bar
17. rubber / eraser
18. telly / television
19. tin / can
20. underground / subway
21. torch / flashlight
22. windscreen / windshield
23. zip / zipper
24. full stop / period
25. maths / math
26. chemist / drugstore
27. football / soccer
28. trainers / sneakers
29. jumper / sweater
30. bonnet / hood (of the car
31. trousers / pants
32. waistcoat / vest
33. braces / suspenders
34. timetable / schedule
35. tea towel / dish towel

Major Spelling Differences – British / American

The biggest differences between British and American English spelling were introduced in the late 18th and early 19th century in the wake of the British Empire. Dictionary of the English Language (1755) influenced the British variant of English, while An American Dictionary of the English Language (1828) had profound effects on the American version.

I love English, though I now call it ‘Anglo-American’ because we no longer speak British English due to globalization.” – Maurice Druon

As a job seeker, what’s most important to understand for you is that the British language and its spelling are influenced by the French language and spelling due to geographic and political closeness to one another. American English was designed to differ from its British roots as to give it a unique identity removed from its origins (again, for geopolitical and social reasons). Thanks to mass media, US English is far more widespread than UK English but both are quite prevalent across the web and in various media publications. Here are some of the most notable, major spelling differences between the two English languages:

1. fulfil / fulfill
2. centre / center
3. metre / meter
4. civilisation / civilization
5. behaviour / behavior
6. colour / color
7. doughnut / donut
8. grey / gray
9. cancelled / canceled
10. defence / defense
11. millimetre / millimeter
12. centimetre / centimeter
13. metre / meter
14. kilometre / kilometer
15. organise / organize
16. characterise / characterize
17. apologise / apologize
18. analyse / analyze
19. paralyse / paralyze
20. traveller / traveler
21. licence / license
22. catalogue / catalog
23. manoueuvre / maneuver
24. paediatric / pediatric
25. labour / labor
26. rumour / rumor
27. yoghurt / yogurt
28. ageing / aging
29. jeweller / jeweler
30. enrol / enroll
31. dreamt / dreamed
32. mould / mold
33. tyre / tire
34. fibre / fiber
35. skilful / skillful

Learning British English with OneGlobe Language Learning

As you can see, many of the differences found between the two versions of the English language are easy to learn and apply in practice. To achieve the best results, you should dedicate your time to learning English. OneGlobe Language Learning is the ideal solution for learning not only English but 40+ languages.

You can learn both British and American English with OneGlobe Language Learning and start applying what you’ve learned immediately. Thanks to the immersive chatbot and voice-recognition features, as well as AR and Kids app, this program is suited to job seekers and their children alike. Keep in mind that you should also practice writing by hand whenever you have the time to spare to further improve your English language proficiency.

LEARN ENGLISH WITH OneGlobe Language Learning

Once you’re satisfied with how your English learning is going, you should add English language proficiency to your candidate CV. Moreover, you can differentiate British English and American English in the CV itself if you’re confident enough in your skills to entice employers into contacting you. Use the Jobs OneGlobe professional CV builder to create and modify your CV before you apply for any UK-based job vacancies to maximize your odds at landing the job you want.

The English language is a work in progress. Have fun with it.” – Jonathan Culver

Making Use of your British English

Whether you’re already proficient in English or plan to start learning the language from scratch soon, learning what makes British English unique can be helpful. In today’s world, most employers won’t pay much attention to whether you speak British English or American English. But, it does matter for certain professions, such as customer support, copywriting, various PR-related professions, etc.

Use Jobs OneGlobe to find great job opportunities in the UK once you’re confident in your abilities to differentiate British English from American English. Knowing the difference and using it to your advantage during job applications and interviews can greatly benefit you. UK employers will look favorably toward candidates who go out of their way to adjust to British English. Once you land the job you wanted to, you can continue sprucing up your English with OneGlobe Language Learning and the practical experience you get from working in the UK.

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