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 EnglishAmerican English
Action replayInstant replay
Agony auntAdvice columnist
AnticlockwiseCounter-clockwise
AubergineEggplant
AutumnFall (as in the season)
Baking trayCookie sheet
Bank holidayLegal holiday or federal holiday
BeetrootBeet(s)
Bin, dustbin or rubbish binGarbage can, trash can or wastebasket
BiscuitCookie or cracker
ChipsFrench fries
ChemistDrugstore or pharmacy
CrispsPotato chips
CinemaMovie theatre
CoachBus
FilmMovie
Fizzy drinkSoda or pop
FlatApartment
FootballSoccer
HolidayVacation
JumperSweater or sweatshirt
Kitchen rollPaper towels
LiftElevator
Loo or WCBathroom or restroom
Loo rollToilet paper
Mobile or mobile phoneCell or cell phone
PantsUnderpants, underwear, or panties
PavementSidewalk
PlasterBand-aid
PetrolGas
PostMail
QueueLine
RubberEraser
Sweets or sweetshopCandy or candy store
To ringTo call (on the telephone)
TrainersSneakers or tennis shoes
TrousersPants