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14 / 11 / 2006

UK AND US ENGLISH DIFFERENCES-6: meaning and examples

Good morning.

Today we will finish our comparison of standard US and UK English by looking at some vocabulary differences. This is really where we see the majority of the differences. We only look at a few examples to demonstrate the confusion that can be caused, but if you want more information you can consult Glenn Darrahg's book A to Zed, A to Zee (Editorial Stanley 2000) or Susan Stempleski's BBC American English OK! (Difusión 1998), or try this website:

Chaleco (Esp.)
Vest (US) vs. Waistcoat (UK)

Camiseta de tirantes (para hombres) (Esp.)
Tank top (US) vs. Vest (UK)

Ascensor (Esp.)
Elevator (US) vs. Lift (UK)

Lata (Esp.)
Can (US) vs. Tin (UK)

Patatas Fritas (Esp.)
French Fries (US) vs. Chips (UK)

Patatas Fritas "de bolsa" (Esp.)
Potato Chips (US) vs. Crisps (UK)

IVA (Esp.)
Sales Tax (US) vs. VAT = Value Added Tax (UK)

Homosexual (US) vs. Cigarette (UK)

We could, of course, give a lot more examples. However, the objective is simply to make a point. Although there are very few differences between UK and US English with respect to spelling and grammar, there are differences in vocabulary that really can cause confusion. Although it's not worth becoming obsessed about these differences, it's good to be aware of some of them to avoid awkward situations and miscommunication.

Please post any questions about today's Daily Vitamin in the Daily Vitamin Plus! forum section on our website.

Have a good day.