[British vs. American English] Jumper vs. Sweater

Apr 7, 2016 English Tips
Winding through London

Do you know the difference between British and American English?

We compare British and American English every week for our #Speak Up London Channel. There are things with the same meaning but different words between British and American English; it’s interesting to learn those words as you need to know the difference to be understood. Have you ever said the right word but the person you were talking to had no idea what you were talking about? It might be your accent or the words that are different between British and American English.

1. Aubergine vs. Eggplant

I learned American English before I came to the UK, so I learned that eggplant is a purple vegetable, but when I came to England, people couldn’t understand what eggplant was. When I said “eggplant” to my friends, they looked confused. I figured out that people call this vegetable “aubergine” in England.

It’s pronounced: /ˈəʊbəʒiːn/

Runner bean vs. String bean  

This vegetable is sometimes served with a Sunday roast. It also has different names in the UK and the States.

It’s pronounced: /rʌnə ‘bi:n/

2. Jacket Potato vs. Baked potato

Jacket potato is a traditional British dish, often served with cheese and baked beans. Have you ever tried it? It’s one of my favourite lunches. People say “baked potato” in American English, not “jacket potato”.

It’s pronounced: /ˈdʒakɪt pəˈteɪtəʊ/

Courgette vs. Zucchini

This green vegetable is called courgette or zucchini.

The British word has been borrowed from French and is hard to pronounce: /kʊəˈʒɛt/

3. Bill vs. Check

You must have heard “Waiter! Check please!” in American movies. A British person is more likely to say: “May I have the bill, please?” when they’re ready to pay. On the other hand, when you order coffee or take away food, the clerk will ask you if you want to keep your receipt or not.

“Receipt” if hard to pronounce: /rɪˈsiːt/  

Holiday vs. Vacation

In the UK, people will say “holiday”, for example, bank holiday and Easter holiday. It means ‘a day off work’.  On the other hand, in American English, people go on ‘vacation’ when they head to the beach or mountains.

4. Jumper vs. Sweater

In winter, we wear jumpers in the UK while in America, they wear sweaters. For example, in the UK people say “Christmas jumper”, but not Christmas sweater.

A sweater can be tricky to pronounce: /ˈswɛtə/

Toilet/Loo vs. Restroom

In the UK, London for example, we can find a “toilet” or “loo” in public places, not a “restroom”.  In American spoken English, the word bathroom for boys is “John”, and for girls “Jane”. In the UK, we go to the “Ladies” and “Gents” instead.  A more formal word for a toilet is “lavatory”.

“Loo” is quite easy to pronounce: /luː/

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