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. In fact, they were general words that we use in daily life, but only difference was the actual words meaning and their usage in America.
If you are an international student or professional from outside of America, you may be used to different set of words in other parts of world due to British English influence, and sometimes local country specific influence as well. It would be very handy to know some of these common American English words that we use in daily life and how they are different from British English or words used in other countries.
Below are some of the common words used here in America, what I felt were different. It took me a while to catch up with very basic words that Americans use in day to day conversations…I am still learning new words every day! The below list something good to start with.
Feel free to add your words to below list as comments and we will update the article.
Common American English Words Used in Daily Life
American English Word
British English/ General 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 Football||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 🙂 . Listen to pronunciation to clarify.|
|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 drop it off at the nearest mailbox.”|
|Chick||It is used very commonly used in daily conversations to refer to a female in teenage up to 40 years old. e.g: “I met this chick the other day, she was cool”|
|Hitched||usually used to tell someone that they are married. e.g: he is already hitched, no more funny business.|
|Shots||People commonly use the word ‘shot’ to indicate that they got medication or injection. E.g. “I got a flu shots yesterday” to tell that they had flu injection/vaccination yesterday.|
|School||Usually, the word school is used to indicate any institution from 1st grade to 12th grade…after that you call University. But, in America, the word school is used very commonly even to refer to a University or Department in University. E.g.: “Which school did you go to for Masters ?”. “I went to Stanford”. “I got my Masters from UW School of Engineering”.|
Also, check out the some more words in this article : Common American English Words in daily life vs British Words — Part II . Also, our readers have added some amazing set of words and differences as comments, do read the comments to get more information.