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 English Vocabulary for ESL learners 


Differences in British and American spelling and vocabulary

British and American spelling and vocabulary differ in many areas.
British English tends to keep the spelling of words absorbed from other languages (e.g. French), whereas American English often adapts the spelling of words to sound as they are actually spoken.

There are also many cases where different words or terms are used to refer to the same thing.

Below you find examples of differences in spelling and vocabulary.


OUR / -OR:
Many words end in -our in Britain, and in -or in America.
Britain (UK) America (US)
Colour Color
Favour Favor
Honor Honor
Neighbour Neighbor

-TRE / -TER:
Britain (UK) America (US)
Centre Center
Metre Meter
Litre Liter
Theatre Theater

Doubling of letters:
In Britain, the 'l' is doubled in an unstressed syllable :
Britain (UK) America (US)
Travelling Traveling
Marvellous Marvelous

Different Spelling:
Britain (UK) America (US)
Analogue Analog
Catalogue Catalog
Cheque Check
Dialogue Dialog
Defence Defense
Jewellery Jewelry
Kerb Curb
Plough Plow
Programme Program
Pyjamas Pajamas
Speciality Specialty
Tyre (for a wheel) Tire

Different words:
Britain (UK) America (US)
Aubergine Eggplant
Autumn Autumn/Fall
Plaster Band-aid
Bill Check
Bin Trash can
Biscuit(s) Cookie(s)
Bonnet (of a car) Hood
Boot (of a car) Trunk
Car park Parking lot
Cash point (to withdraw money) ATM
Cot (for a baby) Crib
Chemist's (shop) Drugstore
Chips French fries
Cooker Stove
Crisps (potato crisps) Potato chips
City Centre Downtown
Cinema Movie theater
Courgette Zucchini
CV Resume
Draughts (board game) Checkers
Dustbin Garbage can
Film Movie
Flat Apartment
Flatmate Roommate
Football Soccer
Full stop (punctuation) Period
Garden Yard
Grill (verb) Broil
Handbag Purse
Holiday Vacation
Indicator Blinker
Letter box Mail box
Lift Elevator
Lorry Truck
Luggage Baggage
Maths Math
Mobile phone Cell phone
Motorway Freeway/Highway
Nappy Diaper
Off-licence Liquor store
Pavement Sidewalk
Petrol Gas/gasoline
Pocket money Allowance
Post Mail
Postcode Zip code
Primary school Elementary school
Pub Bar
Queue Line
Return (ticket) Round trip (ticket)
Rubber Eraser
Rubbish Garbage
Secondary school High school
Sellotape Scotch tape
Shop Store
Single (ticket) One-way ticket
Solicitor Lawyer
Starter Appetizer
Surname Last name
Sweets Candy
Tap Faucet
Taxi Cab
Timetable Schedule
Tin Can
Toilet Bathroom/restroom
Torch Flashlight
Trainers Sneakers
Tram Streetcar/cable car
Trousers Pants
Underground Subway
Vest Undershirt
Waistcoat Vest
Wardrobe Closet

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Please note that British English spelling is used on this website.

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