Commonly Used American Slang Expressions in Daily Life vs. British English

Commonly Used American Slang Expressions in Daily Life vs. British English

Initially, when I moved to US for the first time, in my conversations with Americans, they would use some expressions in that would make me think a little bit and understand based on context or sometimes ask them or look up on the interet for the usage….They were new to me because, either they were used by only Americans in their daily life as slang or they were not british…Anyways, let me share some of the common American Slang expressions. In the same lines, you may read this article : Commonly used American English words in daily life,  Some of this may help you with TOEFL or ESL too :)

I do not know if the equivalent slang terms that I mention below are exactly from British English, but at least they were used by me when I lived in India. We speak and use British English in India…so just assuming they are the same…

American Slang Expression and their Equivalents in British English

British English Term

American English Slang Expression

Explanation

Tire is puncturedHave a flat tireYou do not use puncture for tires or tubes in America. You got a flat tire
Stand in QueueStand in a lineI never heard anyone using queue in US. You just stand in a line at bus stop or in a bank
Go to Petrol BunkGo to Gas StationIn America, gasoline is the term for petrol and they call it gas in short form. Diesel is still Diesel in America.
Put a full stop at end of sentence.Put a period at end of sentence.No one  uses full stop in US. It is a period
I want to post this letterI want to mail this letterIn America, people use mail for post
I passed out in 2000 from Delhi UniversityI graduated in 2000 from Delhi UniverityIn America, Pass out means faint because of loss of blood, weakness or sometimes after getting drunk too much :)
We are used to saying  “hash” for symbol #In US, “#” means a pound symbol

Turn left at the signal

Turn left at traffic lights or just lights

I have seen many people use lights for traffic siginals
Don’t be coward, step up.Don’t be a chicken, step up.Chicken is used to signify that you do not have courage or you are bold enough.

“You Bet”

Some people use, “you bet”, whenever you say Thank you to them for doing a favor. It is like saying “You are welcome”
I am trying, but the phone is engaged.I am trying, but the phone is busy.You do not use the word engage in US, just phone is busy
I need to buy some alcohol or liquor for tonightI need to buy some booze for tonightUsing booze is very common for alcohol in slang

Bummer! I can’t go to concert tonight.

“Bummer” is an expression used to express emotion and it  means something that you did not expect happened and you cannot do anything about it.
Look at a place or visit the place.Lets check out this place or just check out anything.In slang, people use “check out” for visiting or looking at them with interest. Based on context, it can also mean you have to vacate the place like in “Check out the hotel at 11 AM”
He just hung upon me or  Just hang up the phone“Hang up” means just disconnect the phone. It has nothing to do with hanging someone in gallows

I cannot do this buddy.

I wish I could do this buddy

It is tricky here, when some says, “I wish….” it means they cannot do it, but politey saying they cannot do it.
Its fineIts Cool or just CoolIn America, people use “Cool” a lot. It is kind of cool to use cool :)  It has nothing to do with “Cold weather or cool climate”

The bar is empty tonight

The bar is totally dead tonightIn this context, dead means just empty.

There are still so many to write, I will write another article some other time. In the mean time you can check this article : How to Greet People in America.

Do you have any other expressions that you would like to share ?

30 comments… add one

  • American English teacher Nov 19, 2014 Reply

    It’s rather offensive that you only find American way of saying things to be slang, but the British way of speaking to be correct. There are 317 million American citizens vs. 64 million citizens of the UK. :) You also have a lot of grammar mistakes in your example sentences, as well as the incorrect assumptions. I have a flat tire because something punctured it, so therefore my tire is punctured ( which caused it to become flat). It can be punctured without becoming flat right away. There are many other incorrect assumptions in your table, so you may want to verify your information with a native speaker before submitting an authoritative articles like this. Good effort, though, and good luck to you.
    By the way, a very good British friend of mine informed me that until the late 1700’s everyone in England spoke the way Americans do. The current “British accent” which so many seem to think is the only “real” English accent, was adopted by some snobbish wealthy Englishmen in an effort to set themselves apart from the people whom them thought were beneath them. It backfired, because the majority of the people started to imitate their “affected” way of speaking, and that was the birth of the “British accent”. So according to him, the American accent is the “real” English accent that many British people seem to shun as less than genuine. He swears that this is a true story, but lacking tape recordings from that time, we may never have proof. :)

  • Jo Nov 18, 2014 Reply

    One more thing–the United States is a large country, so maybe “booze” isn’t common in some areas, but here on the East Coast, it sure as heck is! So you won’t find a one-size-fits-all list of American slang, it depends on where you are.

  • Jo Nov 18, 2014 Reply

    actually, “bae” means “cool” or “baby” (as in, girlfriend), and like many expressions and terms, meanings change quickly.
    Try an urban dictionary site for answers to many questions about slang:

    Be warned, you may find a lot of profanity on such sites.
    Good luck with your American English.

  • Ania Nov 18, 2014 Reply

    Hey dear kumar, i’m interested to learn american native language. Thank you so much for this page and other friends to explain more about what is correct or not.

  • Zacky Oct 1, 2014 Reply

    Dude you seem to be an Indian (author), as far as I know this words or sentences you have quoted are just a cool way of addressing or you can say a cool way of conversing. There is one slang I came across while speaking to an American was “Mr. Smith is digging potatoes” when I asked the lady on the other line to connect me to Mr. Smith, you know that means, it means Mr. Smith is dead. So please post some real slang that just not make people speak in a cool way but is also useful.

  • Born & Raised American Jun 17, 2014 Reply

    The American “slang” isn’t slang at all. This chart is incorrect on the American side but I don’t know about the British side because obviously I’m not British. An example of American slang is “bae” it stands for before anything else. This is something someone new to America might not know. Things on this chart however is just phrases that Americans say that is grammatically correct in our dialect which makes it not slang.

  • Sarah Feb 9, 2014 Reply

    As an American, I must add that we DO use the word “queue”, it’s just rare. When you do hear it, it’s usually in reference to amusement parks. For example, a park near me has a thing called “Quick Queue”, which is a card you can buy that allows access to a shorter queue which gets you on the ride faster.

    • Itok warsita Aug 20, 2014 Reply

      I’ll be more pleasure if any guys particularly American can help me to attach the daily colloquial to my email, for I’m an English instructor in a college. thanks

  • Karen Jan 8, 2014 Reply

    I’m afraid that the author has the term ‘slang’ wrong. It appears that if it’s not the expression in British English, then it’s slang. For example, ‘to stand in a queue’ is simply the British way that Americans say ‘to stand in line’. I don’t understand how the latter is ‘slang’ but not the former.

  • Zalak Dec 19, 2013 Reply

    Here the British words, I think, mean the words/slangs that are “largely” used in Indian subcontinent. It can be helpful to the people who are not at all aware of American slangs or American english. But try to update/correct more slangs to it.
    I want to add 2 words to this list.
    1. Kiss = “face battle” (it’s said over here to be more cool word than kiss). I think it’s more kinda humorous.
    2. Nosy = meaning poking into somebody’s matter or asking too many things about him/herself.
    Thanks

  • Christian J. Jun 9, 2013 Reply

    [Yours]: “In America, Pass out means faint because of loss of blood, weakness or sometimes after getting drunk too much”

    [Mine]: “In America, Pass out means [to] faint because of loss of blood and weakness, sometimes after [drinking] too much or, simply, to go to sleep. (E.g. “Hey man, I’m gonna go pass out.” or “I’m about to pass out”).

    Don’t some British use the American “slang” quite often or once in a while. (I know they particularly like to do it when making fun of an American.. jokingly of course.. lol.. or when trying to get along with us..?)

    There’s another possible “slang”.

    [Make fun of..]

    ^The action of joking to and/or about an individual or group of people^

    Do British use this “slang” as well?

  • Rohit Varshney Mar 30, 2013 Reply

    can anyone tell me what is called “dhoti” in English?

    • Saurabh Apr 11, 2013 Reply

      Rohit Varshney,
      May not be the same thing, but what about wrap-around.

  • TAMTAM Jan 9, 2013 Reply

    im learning speaking american, but i have no partner. I feel bored speak in front of my mirror all the time…

    • Elmira Feb 7, 2013 Reply

      well u can use chatrooms n find an american chatmate :)
      i think it helps u alot alot…
      n ucan have fun while learning…try it

      • student dude Aug 10, 2014 Reply

        links pls

  • Natalie Nov 16, 2012 Reply

    I’m sorry but I find this very inaccurate on both sides. I visit family in England every summer and a lot of the slang terms you say are strictly American have reached the U.K. Plus, you give a lot of examples of outdated and rarely used American slang. Most of my friends would say the bar is empty not the bar is dead and booze is not a commonly used term. More of a term for college students and people just joking around about alcohol.

  • IndiGuy Nov 12, 2012 Reply

    British: Wash-room
    American: Restroom
    ————————
    British: Lift
    American: Elevator

  • AK Nov 9, 2012 Reply

    ?? This list is 80% inaccurate!!! “To pass out” in the UK means “to faint”.
    You would NEVER say someone “passed out of university”. You would say that they “passed” a test, but not “passed out”. Also, “booze” and “to check out” are slang terms used in British English too. We don’t say petrol bunk in British English, we say petrol pump or petrol station. You need to revise this with a native speaker.

  • Steve Nov 1, 2012 Reply

    Hi – I just read through this article (looking for some ambiguous wordage for a quiz with a UK team and a US team) – I don’t think there was a single term (not one!) that actually needed any clarification – they are all pretty-much interchangable without any loss in meaning either side of the ocean. It may be that we don’t use the same words, but they are close enough not to merit explanation. I am looking for something a bit more challenging – e.g., the word “fanny” means different things in the US and the UK…………….

  • Arun Oct 7, 2012 Reply

    Good

  • Cath Sep 5, 2012 Reply

    Nicely done…

    I’m American born and bred and I wanted to take exception to one of your included expressions…you state that “booze” is a popular term for “alcohol” or “liquor” and in my experience that simply isn’t true, or at least not true here in the Midwest. While you do hear the term “booze” from time to time, I doubt I have ever actually used it and it is Much less popular than “alcohol” or “liquor”.

    Also, generally, the term “booze” carries a slightly more ‘working class’ connotation as well as a nod toward an almost humorous reference to alcohol.

  • Amardeep Oct 6, 2011 Reply

    Great job, It’s very helpful for me.

  • alain ishimwe Jul 26, 2011 Reply

    thank you sir,
    this is very crucial and we are learning more.

  • My Thuong Dec 27, 2010 Reply

    Hi, I’m in Viet Nam. Thanks for your helpful page. I have some friends who are going to immigrate to U.S and i try to help them to learn daily American English conversation. It’s very wonderful if you can show or send me relevant documents

    • Kumar Dec 28, 2010 Reply

      I do not have any documents that could be of any help. Just browse the blog, there are plenty of articles on American English and Lifestyle.

  • Saurabh Oct 31, 2010 Reply

    British English: Bill please

    American English: Check please

  • hetal patel Oct 29, 2010 Reply

    Sir, I come to know about the words from this site thanks for it
    I want to add 1 more word it to this list
    American English Apartment
    British English Flat
    please reply me

    • Kumar Oct 30, 2010 Reply

      Hetal, I am glad you found it helpful ! Yes, you are right…

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