Top 3 Differences Between a US English Accent and a British English Accent

We're both speaking English, so what's the difference?
We’re both speaking English, so what’s the difference?

When traveling or studying abroad in the United States or the United Kingdom, you will definitely hear the English language. Many people hear two types of English accent but never dig into why they sound different.

We’re about to take a quick look at the three biggest differences between a US accent and a UK accent.

Disclaimer: although we are looking at the differences between the accent in two countries, keep in mind, depending on your location in each country, each “type” of English may sound distinct and have some variations.

US Accent Vs. UK Accent

The biggest difference you will notice in these two accent is how they “sound.” Without thinking about it, one or the other sounds very foreign depending on which you’ve learned in the past.

But HOW does it sound different?

Well, often a UK speaker does not pronounce the letter “R” if it comes after the first letter of the word, and the letter “L” is said quite similarly to the letter “R.”


As someone learning the English language, or for someone who speaks one version or the other natively, there will probably be some confusing changes in words. And not just slightly differing pronunciations.

With a US accent, people will say things like, “elevator,” “apartment,” “cookies,” and “the drugstore.”

On the other hand, someone from the UK will likely say, “lift,” “flat,” “biscuits,” and “the chemist’s.”

Even to a native speaker some of these changes in vocabulary can be confusing.

Proper Grammar

If you listen carefully to both types of English speakers, you will notice that people with a UK accent may add different words. Oppositely, American speakers are generally more relaxed about grammar.

American English is typically a bit more informal than any dialect from the UK. The best way to illustrate this is by example: “Alex ate too much” is what a native US English speaker would say. Whereas in the UK, “Alex has eaten too much.”

It really isn’t too tricky, but it is a few extra words. If you’re curious about the technicality of it, UK speakers use the present + perfect tense. It equates to this: have/has + past participle.

Final Thoughts

No matter which dialect or version of English you choose to learn and speak, doing so will take you far in your business and personal life. According to an article published in February of 2018, English is the 3rd most spoken language.

Speaking a second or third language is always beneficial, and having the ability to communicate with English speakers around the world, whether they are from the UK or US will increase your chances of success when moving abroad.

Keep in mind, when learning a language, the accent is just as important as anything else. Improving it will give you confidence in speaking with others, which of course is why you are learning English to begin with.

If you’d like to sound like a native English speaker, practice. If you’re still having a hard time, take a few lessons. You can also try our 7-day free trial and judge for yourself.


English Pronunciation & Fluency Expert
Annie Ruden M.S.CCC-SLP
CEO | Accent Reduction Trainer
[email protected]

Be Understood. Be Confident.