Are British and American English the same language?

In the words of the poet and playwright Bernard Shaw, “England and America are two countries separated by the same language.” Whilst many words mean exactly the same in both countries there are some amusing differences. And in many instances a totally different word is used for the same thing.

If you don’t want to leave Brits scratching their heads to what you mean, then knowing the differences is a must. For instance asking for ‘gas’ in a petrol station won’t get you very far. And referring to our beloved national game as ‘soccer’ won’t help you make many friends.

The spelling of words that sound the same can also be different. This can be attributed to the divergence of American English in the early 18th century when Americans started spelling words as they sounded. British English has retained the spelling of words it has absorbed from other languages, such as French and German.

British English American English
Action replay Instant replay
Agony aunt Advice columnist
Anticlockwise Counter-clockwise
Aubergine Eggplant
Autumn Fall (as in the season)
Baking tray Cookie sheet
Bank holiday Legal holiday or federal holiday
Beetroot Beet(s)
Bin, dustbin or rubbish bin Garbage can, trash can or wastebasket
Biscuit Cookie or cracker
Chips French fries
Chemist Drugstore or pharmacy
Crisps Potato chips
Cinema Movie theatre
Coach Bus
Film Movie
Fizzy drink Soda or pop
Flat Apartment
Football Soccer
Holiday Vacation
Jumper Sweater or sweatshirt
Kitchen roll Paper towels
Lift Elevator
Loo or WC Bathroom or restroom
Loo roll Toilet paper
Mobile or mobile phone Cell or cell phone
Pants Underpants, underwear, or panties
Pavement Sidewalk
Plaster Band-aid
Petrol Gas
Post Mail
Queue Line
Rubber Eraser
Sweets or sweetshop Candy or candy store
To ring To call (on the telephone)
Trainers Sneakers or tennis shoes
Trousers Pants