When it comes to British English Vs American English spelling, there are several differences. Sometimes the words are spelled differently and have the same pronunciation. Other times, the spelling is different and the pronunciation of the word is also different. Here is a list of some of the most common spelling differences to help you:
British English = colour / American English = color
What’s your favourite colour? Mine is blue. There are several words in British English that end with -our compared to -or in American English.
British English = neighbour / American English = neighbor
If you want to get on with your neighbours, you should keep the noise down at night and say hello when you see them in the street. A really quick way to upset your neighbours is to have a loud house party until 4am on a weeknight! Try to keep the noise down after 11pm.
British English = rumour / American English = rumor
Rumours can spread very quickly, especially on the Internet. Don’t believe everything you hear on the grapevine because the rumour might not be true! It’s a good idea to check the information to see if it’s true or not before telling all of your friends.
British English = humour / American English = humor
Have you got a good sense of humour? Are you good at telling jokes? If you can understand humour in a different language, this is a good sign that you are doing well. Just don’t be surprised if some British humour seems a bit strange!
British English = odour / American English = odor
Did you know that a dog’s sense of smell is more than 1000 times better than a human’s. That means if an odour is really faint, dogs can smell it much more easily than we can. This is why the police use dogs to sniff people at airports.
British English = favourite / American English = favorite
What’s your favourite food? Here in the UK, the most popular food is not fish and chips. It is in fact curry! The nation’s favourite curry is Chicken Tikka Masala. Sometimes the extra ‘u’ can come in the middle of British English words.
British English = theatre / American English = theater
Have you been to the West End? Going to the theatre is a common tourist attraction and the most famous UK theatres are in the west end of London. Want to visit a theatre in America? Head to New York and the most popular theatres can be found on Broadway.
British English = aeroplane / American English = airplane
British Airways has the largest number of aeroplanes in the UK. London Heathrow is the busiest airport in the UK and handles over 70 million passengers every year! That’s a lot of aeroplanes (or ‘planes’ for short) and an even bigger number of airline meals.
British English = cheque / American English = check
It’s quite uncommon now to see people writing a cheque due to the rise in credit cards and online banking. Many supermarkets and shops in the UK don’t accept cheques anymore so don’t forget to take another form of payment with you when buying a pint of milk.
British English = pyjamas / American English = pajamas
‘Pyjamas‘ is a strange looking word with an unusual spelling. Some people like to call them PJs, Jammies or even Jim-Jams. Whatever you decide to call them, it’s important that you don’t forget to change out of your pyjamas before leaving the house and going to the shops!
British English = programme / American English = program
I find it annoying when I’m watching a TV programme and there are lots of adverts. So I usually turn the sound off or get up and do something else during the ad break. A lot of people watch recorded TV programmes nowadays so having no adverts is one of the biggest advantages.
British English = apologise / American English = apologize
The British love to apologise! Even when it’s not our fault. For example, if I’m walking down the street and someone bumps into me, a common reaction is for me to apologise and say ‘sorry’. This is strange because it was the other person’s fault and not mine.
British English = aluminium / American English = aluminum
Do you use aluminium foil to bake your potatoes? Aluminium has an extra ‘i’ in British English, which also adds an extra syllable to the word. Most of the spelling differences between British and American English don’t change the pronunciation of the word, but aluminium is pronounced differently to aluminum.
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To practise your listening and to hear all of the pronunciation differences for these words, watch the video of this blog post below: