AEE 256: Exaggerate or Understate? 3 Key Differences Between American and British English

US and UKDid you know there are differences between British and American English?

Today, Lindsay talks with teacher and author Douglas Amrine about three key differences, and why these matter for you in a job interview!


Douglas has spent half his life in the United States and half in the United Kingdom, so his accent is somewhere in the middle of the two.  His experience has given him clarity about the differences in how Americans and British speak, and how speech is perceived in each country.


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Here are three key differences between American and British English that Douglas believes are important for you in a job interview:

  • Accent: Both countries have many regional accents, but pronunciation of the consonants “t” and “r” distinguish between British and American.  In-between vowels, Americans pronounce “t” as “d”, so a word like “matter” might sound like “madder.”  Americans also pronounce “r” more strongly.  While they would pronounce “better” as it is written, a British person might say it like “betta.”
  • Vocabulary: The US and the UK occasionally use different words for the same object.  For example, Americans use the word “elevator,” but British say “lift.”
  • Temperature: Americans like to show enthusiasm and exaggeration, but Britons are masters of understatement, often describing something as smaller or less impressive than it really is.  Even if they are thinking the exact same thing, an American might show his emotions while Briton will be reserved.


Have you encountered these differences between British and American English?

Do you know any others? Let us know in the comments section below!


Douglas AmrineOur guest today is not only a CELTA-certified English teacher but also an award-winning travel guide editor and publisher. He has worked on titles and series such as Eyewitness Travel Guides and Top 10 Travel Guides as well as Where to Go When and The Road Less Traveled.
As an English teacher, our guest helps his students with business English, general conversation, and IELTS preparation. Our guest today is Douglas Amrine. Welcome Douglas!

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  • Good topic

  • Britishisms vs. Americanisms:
    Autumn= fall
    Motorway = highway
    Railways = railroads
    Tube/ Undergrounds = subway
    Car park = parking lot
    Lift = elevator
    Post code = zip code
    Post = mail
    Trousers= pants
    Chips= french fries
    Crisps = chips ( in a bag )
    Joking = kidding
    Tap = faucet
    Realise = realize
    Organisation = organization
    Football = soccer
    Licence = license

  • Attila Cheng

    It’s a great episode. I prefer American way of saying “better”. 🙂 Flap T, and American R are very nice.

  • @attilacheng:disqus thanks for your feedback on this episode. Personally I like the Australian accent!

  • Attila Cheng

    I guess I would love it but I don’t meet it quite often. 🙂

  • José Luis Urrea S.

    Hello, this was an amazing episode. I have a video interview with a company from england, which teacher would you recommend, taking into account the tips in this episode @disqus_Wxz8GksP0J Thank you in advance.