British vs American English

Crisps or chips? Pants or trousers? Dinner or tea?

So having lived in England for a while and having access to well, the internet, I’ve discovered many linguistic differences between British English and American English, many of which I will share with you today.

One of the first ones I discovered, which I did not already know, was the difference between pants and trousers. The American “pants” and the British “trousers” mean the same thing, but if you say “pants” in England, you are referring to underpants, which is why they’ll look at you funny if you say something like: “I’m just gonna wear a top and pants for the party”. You know what you mean, but in the mind of a Brit, you will be wearing nothing but a top and your underwear!

Chips and Crisps. This one was also difficult for me to get used to, because the Danish and the American word for the flat crispy potato snack is “chips”, and the Danish word for the fried long potato sticks is similar to the American “Fries”. However, in England “chips” refers to fries and crisps refer to what most of the rest of the world know as chips. Confusing, right? Just make sure you don’t go into a Fish and Chips shop without knowing the difference!

You can ask a Brit what’s for dinner, and they’ll understand you perfectly, but I’ve heard in conversation and on TV many times that dinner is referred to as tea. It confused me a lot in the beginning when I heard someone ask “what’s for tea?”. But while I’d be thinking I don’t know, maybe tea..? they’d answer “cottage pie” and thus I slowly began to understand.

Now for cookies and biscuits. I think everybody in both countries agree upon the same meaning for the two words, but if you are in the UK they are called biscuits. Period. And in America they are called cookies. Also period.

A sweater in America is a jumper in the UK. In an American car you’d call it the trunk, in a British car you’d call it the boot. An apartment in America is a flat in the UK. In America you eat candy, in the UK you eat sweets. If you have a blackout in America you go grab your flashlight, but in the UK you grab your torch. I you want to trow something out in America, it goes in the trash can, but if you want to trow something out in the UK, it goes in the bin.

I could mention many many more, and if you’re interested, I suggest you go visit this site, where they’ve illustrated the vocabulary differences: Bored Panda: British Vs American English

Which difference did you find most surprising? Or have you ever been in a situation where you couldn’t understand what someone was saying because of these differences? Let me know in the comments!

Thank you so much for reading and I’ll see you for my next post!

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