Common American English words used in daily life vs British English equivalents

by Kumar · 92 comments

When I first moved to US, it was very hard for me to understand a friendly chat or conversation. There were a lot of words that were quite unfamiliar to me. They were just common words, but only difference is the actual words and their usage. We are used to different set of words in other parts of world due to British English influence. Though, this has been changing a lot in recent times, I would like to share with you all some of the common words used here and what I felt were different. It took me a while to catch up very basic words that Americans use in day to day conversations and I am still learning new words every day! The below list something good to start with.

Common words in Daily routine/ activities

American English word

British English equivalent

Explanation and usage.

Gas Petrol In US, you would say, I need to fill gas in my car before it I run out of fuel.  Gas means liquid petroleum and NOT natural LPG Gas
Trash, Garbage Rubbish, dirt Trash is used in different ways like:

Pick up the garbage and put it in the trash can. Do not trash the place.

Trash Can Dustbin No dustbin word used here…Just trash can or Shredder for disposing the paper
Rest room Toilet Instead of saying, I want to go to toilet, you would say: “I would like to use the rest room”. Bath room is also used, but means
Shower Bath Lets say if you want to take bath, people say: I need to shower. Also like,  I was taking shower when  you called me. ‘I need to quickly jump in the shower before I take off to meeting’.
Bag (plastic or paper) Cover (plastic) Usually in India, we say ‘can I get my stuff in a plastic cover’. Here in US, people say “Can I get a bag for the stuff?” . It is used for both plastic and paper.

When you do shopping, here the cashier would ask “Receipt with you or in the bag”. People say, ‘in the bag please J or no’

Bike Bicycle We often get confused when Americans use bike. It means bicycle
Motorcycle Motorbike or bike The name says it.
Zip code Pin code Postal pin code in other countries vs Zip code in US for postal purposes.
Check Bill Typically in restaurant after you are done with meal, you ask for check in US from the waiter.
Elevator Lift No one uses lift, it is elevator in US
Football American Foot ball Americans consider football means by default as American football
Soccer Football People say Soccer when they refer to actual football. In Europe and everywhere we call football, but here in US they say it soccer.
Glasses Specs or Spectacles Eye glasses used for faulty vision
Cookies Biscuits Cookie means just biscuit and usually very sweet biscuit
Garage Place where you park your car in apartment complex or your dedicated place to park car
Store Shop Any shop is called store
Flashlight Torch Torch light that we use in darkness
Flat tire Tire puncture Usually when the tire gets puncture by any metal or thorns
Vacation Holiday When someone has taken a holiday, people usually say he is on vacation.
Bill Note 100 dollar bill vs 100 rupee notes when dealing with cash
Cheese Burger It is understood that it is a Beef burger with cheese on it and not just Cheese between bun !
Cologne It is Men’s fragrance. In India, people use Perfume for both male and female. When you say perfume, it is only for women in US or any part of the world. Just a common mistake in usage of words.
Creamer When mixing coffee, people in USA use creamer, which is equivalent of milk.
Yogurt Curd We use the word Curd a lot. You have to specifically say Yogurt.  Butter Milk is common though. It is same.
Flour is pronounced as Flower One of my friends had a bad experience in Walmart and had to literally write it on paper. So make sure you pronounce it right, otherwise you get wrong product J . Listen to pronunciation to clarify. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/flour
Meat or  Red meat, Chicken Non-Vegetarian We are used to saying I am a non-vegetarian, in US people might get lost. You have to say, I eat meat or chicken. When you go to a restaurant, if you are a vegetarian, you should say “NO Meat or Chicken”  otherwise, you may find interesting stuff as a vegetarian in your food J
Truck Lorry We use lorry a lot in daily life, but here in US, people call by truck. The trucks are huge here
Mailbox / Mail Postbox / Post In US, usage: “I have to mail this package today. Let me dropt it off at the nearest mailbox.”

Check out the some more words in this article : Common American English Words in daily life vs British Words — Part II

I plan to write a post in future on American Slang words used in day-to-day conversations.

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Anju September 15, 2014 at 12:50 pm

Thankyou for learn more important word

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ramkumar August 21, 2014 at 9:40 am

expelled me to do it …..its awesome

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Noorain March 18, 2014 at 11:59 am

Heyy…thankuuu soo soomuch for providing me such good information… I look forward to learn more such words from this blog. Thank you 1nce again.

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