Here are a few of the more common words which are different in American and British English. This is only meant to highlight some of the variety which exists within English, and is not a complete list by any means. It also does not address different vocabulary which is used in Australia, Canada, South Africa and India as well as the Caribbean, Africa, and the many other places in the world which use English as the language of commerce or government.
rubber eraser lift elevator nappy diaper maize corn biscuit cookie mince chopped beef tin can loo or WC bathroom plaster band-aid pram baby carriage row argument flat apartment British American
solicitor lawyer paraffin kerosene jam jelly jelly jello bonnet hood (car) motorway highway bloke, chap guy petrol gas chips fries torch flashlight
trousers pants dummy pacifier flyover overpass nought nothing serviette napkin silencer muffler cinema movie theater caravan motor home post mail queue line number plate license plate
jumper sweater football soccer pavement sidewalk banger sausage hire rent crisps potato chips chemist pharmacist full stop period car park parking lot
postal code zip code windscreen windshield (car) waistcoat vest holiday vacation boot trunk (car) lorry truck bin trash can
Spelling differences between American and British English
hon our hon or fav our ite fav or ite col our col or British American -or vs. -our memori se memori ze critici se critici ze analy se analy ze British American -ze vs. -se
ski l ful ski llf ul fulfi l fulfi ll enro l ment enro ll ment British American -ll vs. -l theat re theat er met re met er cent re cent er British American -er vs. -re
dial ogue dial og catal ogue catal og anal ogue anal og British American -og vs. -ogue medi ae val medi e val man oe uvre man e uver encylycop ae dia encylop e dia British American -e vs. -oe or -ae
che que r che ck er che que che ck ban que ban k British American -ck or -k vs. -que jud ge ment judg ment argu e ment argu ment a ge ing a g ing British American -dg vs. –dge (or -g vs. -gu)
t y re t i re progr amme progr am plou gh plo w p y jamas p a jamas drau gh t dra f t jewe lle ry jewe l ry British American Other
In British English, words that end in -l preceded by a vowel usually double the -l when a suffix is added, while in American English the letter is not doubled. The letter will double in the stress is on the second syllable. prope ll ing prope ll ing propel exce ll ing exce ll ing excel trave ll ing trave l ing travel signa ll ing signa l ing signal quarre ll ing quarre l ing quarrel mode ll ing mode l ing model equa ll ing equa l ing equal counse ll ing counse l ing counsel British American Base Word
Spelling of verbs This is related to formation of the past participle for verbs. Below is a sampling of the three main categories of differences with verbs.
-ed vs. -t The first category involves verbs that use -ed or -t for the simple past and past participle. Generally, the rule is that if there is a verb form with -ed, American English will use it, and if there is a form with -t , British English uses it. However, these forms do not exist for every verb and there is variation. For example, both American and British English would use the word 'worked' for the past form of 'to work', and in American English it is common to hear the word 'knelt' as the past tense of 'to kneel'. learn t leared ed to learn leap t leap ed to leap dream t dream ed to dream British American Base form
base form vs. -ed The second category of difference includes verbs that use either the base form of the verb or the -ed ending for the simple past. irregular vs. -ed The third category of difference includes verbs that have either an irregular spelling or the -ed ending for the simple past. wedd ed wed to wed forecast ed forecast to forecast fitt ed fit to fit British American Base form striv ed strove to strive light ed lit to light knitt ed knit to knit British American Base form