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

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.

GasPetrolIn 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, GarbageRubbish, dirtTrash is used in different ways like:

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

Trash CanDustbinNo dustbin word used here…Just trash can or Shredder for disposing the paper
Rest roomToiletInstead 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
ShowerBathLets 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’

BikeBicycleWe often get confused when Americans use bike. It means bicycle
MotorcycleMotorbike or bikeThe name says it.
Zip codePin codePostal pin code in other countries vs Zip code in US for postal purposes.
CheckBillTypically in restaurant after you are done with meal, you ask for check in US from the waiter.
ElevatorLiftNo one uses lift, it is elevator in US
FootballAmerican Foot ballAmericans consider football means by default as American football
SoccerFootballPeople say Soccer when they refer to actual football. In Europe and everywhere we call football, but here in US they say it soccer.
GlassesSpecs or SpectaclesEye glasses used for faulty vision
CookiesBiscuitsCookie means just biscuit and usually very sweet biscuit
GaragePlace where you park your car in apartment complex or your dedicated place to park car
StoreShopAny shop is called store
FlashlightTorchTorch light that we use in darkness
Flat tireTire punctureUsually when the tire gets puncture by any metal or thorns
VacationHolidayWhen someone has taken a holiday, people usually say he is on vacation.
BillNote100 dollar bill vs 100 rupee notes when dealing with cash
Cheese BurgerIt is understood that it is a Beef burger with cheese on it and not just Cheese between bun !
CologneIt 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.
CreamerWhen mixing coffee, people in USA use creamer, which is equivalent of milk.
YogurtCurdWe use the word Curd a lot. You have to specifically say Yogurt.  Butter Milk is common though. It is same.
Flour is pronounced as FlowerOne 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, ChickenNon-VegetarianWe 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
TruckLorryWe use lorry a lot in daily life, but here in US, people call by truck. The trucks are huge here
Mailbox / MailPostbox / PostIn 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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94 comments… add one

  • Adele Nov 2, 2014 Reply

    Confusing as though he was trying to ‘translate’ American to British English and vica versa, the author also threw some Indian English in their which kind of ‘muddied the waters’. Sorry but did find it very confusing, especially as some under the ‘British’ column was not necessarily 100% British.

  • Nsengiyumva(Pray God Who Hear) Alexis Oct 3, 2014 Reply

    thanks i wanna u teach me through mail american English. i like it very much be cool.

  • Anju Sep 15, 2014 Reply

    Thankyou for learn more important word

  • ramkumar Aug 21, 2014 Reply

    expelled me to do it …..its awesome

  • Noorain Mar 18, 2014 Reply

    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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