American and British English: differences in vocabulary

British and American English are very similar. However, there are some differences of grammar, vocabulary and spelling. Here is a list of words that have different spellings or meanings in British and American English.

Faucet and tap

Tap is used in both British and American English. Faucet is only used in American English.

First floor, second floor, ground floor etc.

What is called ground floor in British English is called first floor in American English. What is called first floor in British English is called second floor in American English.

Flashlight and torch

British speakers use the word torch. The same device is called flashlight in American English.

French fries and chips

French fries are used in American English. British speakers use the word chips to refer to the same thing.

Garbage, trash and rubbish

Garbage and trash are used in American English. Rubbish is the British equivalent for these two.

Gas, gasoline, petrol

Gas or gasoline is the American term for the British word petrol.

Highway, freeway, main road, motorway

The words highway and freeway are used in American English. Main road and motorway are their British equivalents.

Mail and post

The word mail is used in American English. In British English, the word post is used to refer to the same thing.

Movie and film

In American English, both movie and film are used to refer to motion pictures. In British English, only film is used.

Pants and trousers

Pants are a piece of clothing that covers your body from your waist to your ankles. In American English, the words trousers and pants are both possible. In British English, only trousers is used.

Raise and rise

Salary increments are called raise in American English and rise in British English.

Rest room and public toilet

Rest room is the American equivalent for public toilet.

Sidewalk and pavement

Sidewalk is the American word for pavement.

Sneakers and trainers

Sports shoes are called sneakers in American English and trainers in British English.

Zee and zed

The letter ‘Z’ is pronounced zee is American English. It is pronounced zed in British English.