top of page
  • Writer's pictureTC

British vs. American English

In this article, we are going to explore some differences between two Englishes - American and British - in these areas:


*-ise or -ize?

In general, the ending -ise is preferred in British English, however, it is acceptable to use -ize. It is a matter of preference but once you choose, you should be consistent in your writing.

Be careful as there are words that always end in -ise in both British & American English: advertise, advise, apprise, arise, chastise, circumcise, comprise, compromise, demise, despise, devise, disenfranchise, disguise, enfranchise, enterprise, excise, exercise, improvise, incise, premise, revise, supervise, surprise, televise

The ending -yze is not acceptable in British English but is preferred in American, e.g. analyze, paralyze, catalyze, or dialyze. In British English these would be spelled analyse, paralyse, catalyse, dialyse.

--> Br (-ise / -ize // -yse) vs. Am (-ize // -yze) <--

**-ce or -se?

In British English, nouns end in -ce such as practice, advice, and licence. However, if they are used as verbs, they will be spelt with -se: practise, advise, and license.

I need extra English practice. X I practise my English every day.

His advice was worth it. X He advised me to buy a flat.


The main differences between British and American English can be summarized as follows:

· Rhotic accent

· Differences in consonant pronunciation

· Differences in vowel pronunciation

· Change of stress

· Differences in articulation

1 r

Most American accents are rhotic whereas most British accents are non-rhotic. This means that most Americans will pronounce the r in certain syllables where British will not.

In British English, when r comes after a vowel in the same syllable, the r is not pronounced. It is pronounced when it is at the beginning or in the middle when it comes after a consonant, e.g. rain, read, crane, drink, bring,

For example: car, hard, market, water, work, turn, birth, farm, girl, other

In American English the r is pronounced.

To hear the difference, watch this:

Having problems with pronouncing r ? Watch this

2 t

In British English, t is pronounced when it is at the beginning, in the middle or at the end of a word (table, attract, cat).

In American English, they tend to drop the t at the end of words.

T in the middle position is pronounced as d:

a) when it is between two vowels – Saturday, matter, What about?

b) when it is between r and a vowel – party, part of

In American English t is pronounced like a fast d.

In American English, t is dropped after n, e.g. centre, interview, internet

More about British ‘t’:

3 some words

Here are only some examples. If you are not sure, it is always good to check with a dictionary where you can also play the pronunciation and practise it.

brochure UK /ˈbrəʊ.ʃər/ US /broʊˈʃʊr/

new UK /njuː/ US /nuː/

garage UK /ˈɡær.ɑːʒ/ /ˈɡær.ɪdʒ/ US/ɡəˈrɑːʒ/

address UK /əˈdres/ US /ˈæd.res/

laboratory UK /ləˈbɒr.ə.tər.i/ US /ˈlæb.rə.tɔːr.i/

route UK /ruːt/ US /ruːt/ /raʊt/

advertisement UK /ədˈvɜː.tɪs.mənt/ US /ˌæd.vɚˈtaɪz.mənt/