Speak Up London

Oscar Wilde wrote, “We have really everything in common nowadays with America, except, of course, the language”. I have even heard the line, “two countries divided by a common language”, by George Bernard Shaw.  

English is the most studied language in the world and the primary language of communication all over the world. American and British English are most frequently taught in English as second language programmes.

A little bit of History

Did you know, the British arrived in the Americas between the 16th and 17th centuries and brought the language with them, but Americans created their own English which is now called American English?

Both countries (England and America) do indeed speak English, however, there are cultural differences in the way it is spoken. In Britain, for example, there are many accents and languages used up and down the country such as Welsh (in Wales), Geordie (Tyneside, North East of England), Cockney (East End of London), and Yorkshire (dependent on the region) each made up of different words with distinct pronunciations.

There are other numerous varieties of the English language including British, American, Canadian, and Australian, but the most well-known varieties are American and British English.

The differences

So, it is not surprising, that English learners are at times confused because there are two varieties of standard English, American English, and British English. Although American English and British English originated from the same language, there are clear differences in the usage of vocabulary, grammar, and spelling. This causes English learners and users to sometimes be confused.

Let me give you a few examples of some of the differences. 

American English


British English



Full stop













Do you have a problem?

Have you got a problem?

Get, got, got

Get, got, gotten

The above examples show that American English and the British English language contain different words/forms from one another in terms of vocabulary, spelling, grammar and even pronunciation.

However, even with these major differences between American English and British English, it is still the same language.

You may be wondering how many terms are different between American English and British English, and there may be more than one hundred (if not, more). So, one piece of advice to give you, is, when learning English in London, you must stick to one variety (i.e., British English), as the two varieties are not the same. 

However, learning English in London using American English is not a problem to students’ learning, but, as learners of the English language, it is important to know and understand these differences to avoid confusion. For instance, ‘He puts his pants on like any other person’. In Great Britain, the word pants mean underwear, whereas Americans refer to pants as trousers.


Don’t be too hard on yourself if you cannot memorise all the differences between the two languages. If you accidentally utilise one instead of the other, you will be understood.

British go on holiday, while Americans go on vacation. British eat chicken and chips, whilst American eat chicken and French fries. Learning English in London will help and benefit you in understanding other key differences between American English and British English. After all, it was here in Britain, that the English language was invented.  

Author: Uwais 

English Teacher