Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Today Luke Thompson from Luke’s English Podcast joins Lindsay.

He shares the key differences between British and American English.

They discuss how culture affects how one responds to the question, “How are you?”

Listen in today and learn the main differences between American and British English.

Get to know Luke!

Luke has been a friend of the All Ears English podcast for some time!

Don’t miss episode 122: Luke’s ENGLISH Podcast and How to Be Funny in English

He also joined us on the IELTS Energy podcast to share British slang!

Check out that episode here: What’s a Zebra Crossing? Luke Will Tell You!

Just like Lindsay, he has been in the podcast game for many years.

He is a standup comedian and an English teacher from the United Kingdom.

For nearly 15 years, he has been using his teaching and comedy skills to educate and entertain English learners around the world.

British English versus American English

Lindsay asks Luke about the key differences between American and British English.

Luke shares there are many similarities between British and American English.

He advises English learners not to focus on just one English dialect.

There are minor differences aside from the accent.

However, you must not let this get in the way of connection.

Whatever dialect someone speaks, the important thing is you understand each other and are able to express yourself.

#1: Communication style

Luke starts with differences in the communication style between the U.S. and UK.

For the most part, it reflects the culture of each country.

The prevailing culture in America is positivity, idealism, and hard-working spirit.

These ideals reflect the way that most Americans interact.

They often have an energetic and outgoing personality.

As for the UK, they have a class system, so they tend to be self-deprecating, ironic, and understated.

The way they communicate is often less cheerful and positive.

You can easily see the difference when you ask the question, “How are you?”

Americans tend to respond, “Great! Things are good.”

As for the Brits, they might say, “Not too bad. Could be worse.”

A common response is, “Surviving.”

There’s often a hint of sarcasm with the British.

#2: Pronunciation

In terms of pronunciation, the letter “r” is enunciated more fully in American English compared to British English.

It’s a softer, more rounded sounding “r” in the UK.

They pronounce many words differently:

  • Car
  • Computer
  • Water

There is a connotation that the British accent sounds sophisticated and luxurious.

Luke points out that many villains in movies have an upperclass-sounding British accent.

Another letter that is often pronounced differently is the letter “t.”

The phrase “bottle of water” sounds very different in these two accents.

Pronunciation of vowels is also often different.

Lindsay and Luke demonstrate how differently they pronounce, “I got a hot dog.”

  • Hot
  • Got
  • Dog

#3: French words in English

The stress in pronouncing loaned words is often different.

In the UK, the stress is on the first syllable.

As for American English, the stress is usually on the last syllable.

Luke and Lindsay note their different pronunciation of the following words:

  • Ballet
  • Barrage
  • Baton
  • Beret
  • Bidet
  • Brochure
  • Buffet
  • Cliche
  • Collage
  • Debris

This is not the case for every French word used in English.

Many have the same pronunciation in the UK and U.S.

#4: Vocabulary

There are many differences between American and British English vocabulary.

Here are some examples of noticeable differences:

America: Diaper
UK: Nappie

America: Garbage or trash
UK: Rubbish

America: Trash can
UK: Bin

America: Pants
UK: Trousers

America: Underwear
UK: Pants

America: Parking lot or driveway
UK: Car park

America: Restroom and bathroom
UK: Toilet or loo (short for lavatory)

America: Candy
UK: Sweets


It’s fun to notice the differences between American and British English.

Recognizing the differences can also help you better understand both accents.

However, it is vital that you don’t get hung up by these accents.

Don’t let them get in the way of your language learning journey.

Don’t see it as a barrier, but instead look at it as an interesting thing to explore.

It is also a good opportunity for connection to discuss the differences between American and British English.

What are other differences you have noticed between the UK and the U.S.?

Share one difference in the comments below.

Luke’s bio

Luke Thompson is an English teacher and stand-up comedian from the UK, and the host of the award-winning Luke’s English Podcast. For nearly 15 years, Luke has been using his English teaching experience and stand-up comedy skills to create podcast episodes which educate and entertain his audience of English learners around the world. You can find more details on his website.

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