Subject Material

British and American Vocabulary

Published: 31.08.2010, Updated: 03.03.2017
British an American on Jackson Square. Photo.Magicians on Jackson Square.jpg   
Although the English spoken around the world today is a mixture of local variants and colloquialisms, British and American English are still the two dominating ones.

The development of two different vocabularies in British English and American English - such as pavement (BE) and sidewalk (AE) or petrol (BE) and gas (AE) - are due to the influence of other languages creeping into everyday use. The following British and American vocabulary exercise tests if you can recognize the differences.



Listen to Bill Bryson discussing the origin and usage of various expressions in this audio clip:

British and American English, Bill Bryson


  1. As you have just heard there are thousands of words used differently in British and American English. Do you think these differences will continue to be there, or will British and American English melt together - after all modern media and communications make the world so much "smaller".
  2. Why has American influence on languages all over the word been so great at least since the 1950s? Make a list of at least five reasons. Start with your everyday use of various media.

For Further Study