British and American English6 Minute Vocabulary
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- 1 Feb 2021
Hear about differences and similarities in vocabulary from both sides of the Atlantic.
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Visit our website six minutes vocabulary from BBC Learning English dot com. Hello and welcome to Six Minute Vocabulary. My name's Catherine and I'm here today with our special guest presenter Doug. Welcome to the show, Doug. Hi, Catherine. How are you? I'm fine, thank you. How are you, Doug? Fine. Tell us a bit about yourself, Doug.
You're originally from Canada, right? Yes, I'm from Vancouver, which is in western Canada. But I moved here a long, long time ago.
But you still got an American English accent. I noticed. I haven't lost that. And that's cool, because this show is all about the differences between British English and American English vocabulary.
So tell me, Doug, do Canadians like you speak American English?
I don't think Canadians would say that. Let's say they they speak North American English, OK, but it is very similar.
So American English actually, and British English aren't really that different. No, I'm British and me and Doug can understand each other perfectly. Yes.
Yes, usually. Of course we can.
Yes, of course I understand we can. But there are a few vocabulary differences between American and British English that is very helpful to learn.
And today with Doug's help, we're going to take you through some of them. So over to you, Doug.
OK, thanks, Catherine. Let's start with some examples. This is John from the U.S. talking about his recent visit to Britain. Here's a question for you while you're listening. Did John enjoy his visit? Here's John.
I went to Britain for two weeks last fall. Actually, British people don't say fall. They say autumn in the States. We paid the check, but in Britain they paid the bill. We mail a letter, but the British post a letter. We go to a store to buy candy and cookies.
But the British go to a shop to buy sweets and biscuits. But I had a great time there.
So the question was, according to John, did he enjoy his visit and the answer is yes, he did. He said he had a great time. Well done if you got that right at home. Now, let's have a closer look at some of the vocabulary John used. Here's a clip and another question for you. What's the name of the season after summer?
Actually, British people don't say fall. They say autumn.
So in Britain, this season after summer is called autumn.
But in American English, it's called fall because the leaves fall fall. Next question.
When you're in a restaurant and you finish the meal, what do you ask for? What do you pay?
Listen, again, in the states, we paid the check, but in Britain they paid the bill.
In America, the word is check. You pay the check. At the end of the meal, you pay the check.
But in Britain, we pay the bill. Mm hmm.
Here's another difference between British and American English. What do we do when we send a letter? Can you remember the British word or the American word or both?
Listen, again, we mail a letter, but the British post a letter.
So in Britain, we post a letter.
But, Doug, North Americans say mail a letter.
OK, now, John said that British people go to a shop to buy sweets and biscuits. Well, where do Americans go and what do they buy there?
Listen, one more time, we go to a store to buy candy and cookies.
The British say shop, but the Americans say store. The British say sweets.
But the Americans say candy. The British say biscuits. And in North America, that's cookies.
Six minutes vocabulary from BBC Learning English dot com.
And our topic for today is British and American vocabulary. Doug, a question for you. A lot of learners of English want to know which one is better. Is it British English or American English? What do you think?
And to be honest, there's no difference.
Just use the one you like and now it's time for a quiz. Doug is going to say an American English word, and you have to say the British English word with the same meaning.
OK, so the first American English word is check. What's the British word for check?
And the answer is Bill.
Next word, Candy. What do British people say instead of candy?
And the British word for candy is sweets good.
And the last American word is mail. What's the British word for mail?
The British word for mail is post. And that's all our questions for today. Well done.
And before we go, here's a tip to help you with your vocabulary studies. Yes, people speak English with many different accents. Australian, Indian, Nigerian, Singaporean, West Indian.
So it's a good idea to practice listening to lots of accents, not only British accents or American English. It's easy to find examples of many different accents. Just go online. Top tip.
Thanks very much and thanks for being with us today. Well, that's the end of the program, but there's a lot more about this ABC Learning English dot com. Join us again soon for more six minute vocabulary. Bye bye.