The Difference Between Three Types of English

There are about 7,000 languages around the world, of which English has the largest impact on global trade. About 380 million people speak English as their mother tongue. More than a billion people speak or have good command of English as a second language. However, it doesn’t stop with just English. In fact, there are different types of English, such as British English, American English and Australian English. What exactly are the differences between these three types of English?

British, American and Australian English

British English and American English are the most widely used. American English is mainly spoken in the Americas and Canada (although writing in Canada also uses British English), whereas British English is spoken in the UK and other English-speaking countries. In Australia they speak Australian English. Australian English is a combination of British English, Irish English and American English. Australian English has a wide variety of unique words and phrases. The accent in particular is one of the biggest differences.


The main difference between British English and American English is the vocabulary. Certain words can have a different meaning. Alternatively, different words may be used for the same object. When referring to the paved area for pedestrians along the road, in British English the word ‘pavement’ is used, whereas Americans use the word ‘side walk’. Another well-known example is the word ‘holiday’. In American English, the word ‘vacation’ is used instead of ‘holiday’. When referring to fried potatoes, the British use ‘chips’, the Australians use ‘hot chips’ or ‘cold chips’ and the Americans use ‘French fries’. Many everyday words differ from each other. Sweets are ‘candy’ in American, ‘sweets’ in British and ‘lollies’ in Australian.


The pronunciation of English words is also different. Not to mention, there are hundreds of different accents. American English is spoken with ‘neutral’ mouth movements and has relatively few difficult inflections. American English often has a hard R. Take the word ‘smarter’, for example. In addition, in American English people pronounce smarter more closely to how it is written: the last R is not omitted. In British English and Australian English, the pronunciation of ‘smarter’ is often closer to ‘smaa-tuh’.


There are two different types of spelling. British and Australian English have the same spelling, whereas American English is different.

Below are several examples (American English – British/Australian English):

Color – colour

Organize – organise

Analog – analogue

Center – centre


Besides differences in vocabulary, pronunciation and spelling, there are also some differences in grammar. In American English, for example, they make more frequent use of the past simple: ‘I ate my dinner already’. In British or Australian English, people would say: ‘I have eaten my dinner already’. Another difference is ‘I learned it’ (American English) and ‘I learnt it’ (British/Australian English).

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