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American English vs British English

22.06.2016 written by Jane

The mailman was stuck in a tailback, so took out his cell to call his wife to ask her to bring in the trash can off the sidewalk and bring it into the backyard. He also asked if she could fill the tub for him, so that he could take a bath when he got home.


The postman was stuck in a traffic jam, so took out his mobile to call his wife to ask her to bring in the dustbin off the pavement and bring it into the garden. He also asked her if she could run him a bath for when he got home.

The same language but two very different sentences!
The first sentence is American English and the second sentence is British English, no wonder that the English langauge is sometimes a little bit tricky. There are hundreds of words which are different in American and in English, if I can be so bold to call the two like that.

So not only are there completely different words in both languages, for example, trousers – pants, trainers – sneakers, holiday – vacation and petrol – gas are to name but a few, but the Americans even have their own spelling for British English words.

mailman – der Postbote

tailback – der Stau

cell – das Handy

trash can – die Mülltonne

sidewalk – der Gehsteig

backyard – der Garten

fill the tub – ein Bad einlassen

postman – der Postbote

traffic jam – der Stau

mobile – das Handy

dustbin – die Mülltonne

pavement – der Gehsteig

garden – der Garten

run a bath – ein Bad einlassen

tricky – knifflige

bold – mutigen

moustache – der Schnurrbart

yoghurt – der Joghurt

significant – deutlich

common – üblich

far cry from each other – weit entfernt von einander

Another example American English vs British English

So let us look at two different sentences here:

  • He had yogurt in his mustache! (= American English)
  • He had yoghurt in his mustache! (= British English)

They are only minor differences but can be seen as a mistake if written in the other form. I wonder if a student wrote this at school in Austria, if they would both be marked as correct?

So even though we all speak English, there are some very significant differences, some of which can make understanding an American or a Brit quite difficult, especially where words for the same thing are such a far cry from each other.

So the old saying remains true that „we are two nations divided by a common language.
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