British quiz

Test your British slang and colloquial expressions

Do you know what boot and ground floor mean in British English and can you understand British slang and colloquial phrases like pants, cheers and knock up? Test yourself in this British quiz video. Watch two Brits talking with an American in a meeting and see if you can spot ten British expressions that cause confusion.

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To see more of Craig’s materials visit his website at mansioningles.com  and his podcast at inglespodcast.com

British quiz

Hallo. We have something special for you today, but first I’d like you to meet our friend Craig.
Hello everyone.
Craig is British but he lives in Spain.
That’s right and I’m visiting Vicki and Jay in the US this week.
So we’ve made a special video together with Craig for you.
It’s a story about British and American English.
Yeah. There are some words that Craig and I say in British English that most Americans don’t say.
Which sometimes confuses Jay.
So what we’ve done is we’ve made a little story. It shows some things that we say that Jay doesn’t.
So your task is to identify the words and phrases that are causing confusion for Jay.
Yes. So while you’re watching see if you can spot them. Are you ready?

Well, it’s a lovely conference hotel, isn’t it?
Yes, isn’t it great?
I hope Jay hasn’t overslept again. We never hear the alarms on our phones.
No, he’s up. I saw him at breakfast.
Good.
Ah Jay. You’re late.
Sorry. I thought this meeting was on the first floor.
Yeah?
Well, this is the second floor.
No, it isn’t.
Never mind. Have you got the artwork, Jay, for our presentation?
Yes, it was quite a challenge. I couldn’t find all the images you wanted so I had to take the photos myself.
Oh cheers, Jay.
Yeah, cheers.
Ah. Cheers. Cheers.
Show us the pictures.
Sure. Here’s the first one.
I don’t understand.
Yeah. Which picture is this?
Hmmm. Man delivering the post.
This isn’t what we had in mind.
Where are the letters?
You didn’t say anything about letters.
But we wanted a postman.
Let’s move on. Jay, show us the next one.
OK. Well this photo was very hard to take.
I don’t get it.
Me neither.
Well, you said you wanted a suitcase in a boot. Now I couldn’t find a boot big enough for a whole suitcase but I did my best.
Are you taking the mickey?
The mi… What do you mean?
We need to see the suitcase in the back of a car.
Well then why didn’t you say so?
I thought we did.
You did not.
Don’t get shirty.
Sh… What?
What’s the next one?
OK. I put a lot of effort into this one and it’s exactly what you asked for.
It’s a school boy holding a rubber. What’s wrong now?
It’s pants Jay.
No it’s not. Its a condom.
Vicki, you’re going to have to make all these images again.
Yeah. You’re such a plonker Jay. What time is our presentation tomorrow?
8.30 in the morning. Do you want me to stop by your room and knock you up?
Oh, that would be great. Thanks Craig. What?

So did you like the story and did you spot the words that caused confusion?
If you did, tell us in the comments. There were ten of them.
In our next video Jay and I will explain what they were and what they mean.
And do you know any other British and American English differences? Tell us about them too.
Before we stop Craig, can you tell everyone a little about what you do in Spain?
Yes. I help Spanish speakers improve their English and our website and podcasts are a great way to take your English to the next level.
They’re excellent. Where can people find them?
You’ll find our podcasts at inglespodcast.com and our free courses and much much more at mansioningles.com.
I’ll put details in the comments. Make sure you check them out.
Goodbye everybody.
Bye now.

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To see more of Craig’s materials visit his website at mansioningles.com  and his podcast at inglespodcast.com

Short vowel O & other vowel sounds

The British short vowel ‘ɒ’ & other English vowel sounds

There’s a short vowel that we use in British English that doesn’t occur in American. You’ll find it in words like ‘lot’, ‘rock’ and ‘bomb’. In this vowel pronunciation video, we compare it with two other vowel sounds that Americans commonly use instead.
Working on English vowels is a great way to improve your accent. Whether you want to sound British or American, this video will help.

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The short vowel ‘ɒ’ and other English vowel sounds

There’s a vowel that I say in British English that Jay doesn’t say in American.
Really?
Yes, I say it a lot.
A lot?
No, a lot.
Lot?
Exactly. You see we say that lot vowel differently.
Today we’re looking at the vowel sound ‘O’. I’m British but I live in the US and this is a vowel sound that I don’t hear here. ‘O’ ‘O’. So in this video we’ll look at what I say and what Jay says instead.
And I’m American so I’m going to show you how to say things properly.
You mean properly.
Properly.
OK, let’s get started and compare how we say some words. See if you can hear the difference.

Hot. Hot.
Hop. Hop.
Rock. Rock.
Job. Job.
Box. Box.
Jog. Jog.
Stop. Stop.
Clock. Clock.
Proper. Proper.
Bomb. Bomb.

Did you hear the difference? I said O.
And I said AH.
So when Jay says bomb, it sounds like balm to me.
Bomb.
OK, balm is a cream that you can put on your skin and it smells nice. Say balm.
Balm.
And a bomb is a weapon that explodes. Say bomb.
Bomb.
They both sound the same in American.
Yes. Bomb. Balm.
OK, let’s look at how I say O.
O is a short vowel sound. I pull my tongue back in my mouth and I round my lips. O. O. It might feel like it pulls your cheeks in a little. Try it. O. O. Bomb. So I said o but what about Jay?
Bomb.
So he says AH, like in the word father, or heart. To say AH you have to drop your jaw and press your tongue down at the back of your mouth. AH. And notice the mouth is very relaxed. You don’t round your lips. AH. AH.
But there are regional variations with how Americans say these words.
They can vary in the UK too.
In some parts of the US, instead of AH, you’ll hear another sound that’s very similar, but a little different.
Let’s hear it Jay.

Sorry. Sorry.
Lost. Lost.
Horrible. Horrible.
Strong. Strong.

So this time you made an AW sound.
AH, AW, they’re very similar.
Yes, with AH, your mouth is relaxed. AH. With AW, your tongue moves back just a little, but the big difference is your lips come forward and round a little.
AH. AW. AH. AW.
I think the AW sound is pretty similar to the British O sound.
Oh, maybe that’s why we understand one another.
Yes.
AH. AW. O. AH. AW. O.
Sometimes we have to check we’ve understood but normally my O sound isn’t a problem.
Unless Tom is staying.
Ah yes. My son’s name is Tom. It’s short for Thomas. So to me, he’s Tom. But what about in American English?
Tom.
Tom?
Yes.
So when Tom’s American friends call to speak to him they say ‘Is Tom in? And I think there’s no Tom here.
She thinks they’ve dialled the wrong phone number.
Yeah. And then I realize they mean Tom.
So if Americans want to make the British sound, what should they do?
OK, AW is a good place to start.
AW, like in the word ‘law’.
Yes. Then pull your tongue up and back a little and round your lips.
AW. O. AW. O.
Yes, and keep your jaw up. There’s generally less jaw drop in British English.
Proper British English.
And proper American English.
We try to teach you both varieties at Simple English Videos.
Yes, and please share this video with a friend if you’ve enjoyed it.
And we’ll see you all next week everyone. Bye.
Bye.
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R sound R sounds R pronunciation

The R sound in British and American English

Learn how to pronounce the R sound in British and American English. Jay has a rhotic accent and Vicki has a non-rhotic accent. You’ll hear how that affects our pronunciation of R before consonants and at the end of words. We’ll help you recognize the pronunciation differences and also share some tips for making perfect R sounds in both British and American English.

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The R sound in British and American English

Hey Jay. Have you seen my keys anywhere?
Yes. Where were they…? Ah. Yes. Here they are.
Thank you. You know Jay, you make rhotic R sounds.
Really? Erotic R sounds?
No. Rhotic R sounds. It means you pronounce your Rs strongly.
Oh.

We received a request from someone called S.
They said ‘Can you do a pronunciation video on the British and American pronunciations of ‘ear’. Also, maybe include ‘air’ in that video too.
What a good idea! Thank you S.
Yes. Vicki’s British and I’m American, so we can do this.
That’s right. It’s one of the big differences in our accents. We say our R sounds differently.
Yeah.
So listen to how Jay and I say the words.

Ear.
Ear.
Air.
Air.

Did you hear the difference at the end of the words? Jay pronounced the r sound more strongly.

Ear.
Ear.
Air.
Air.

Linguists sometimes divide accents and dialects into 2 types: rhotic and non-rhotic accents. Rhotic is when people pronounce the R sounds strongly, like Jay.

Ear, air.

And in non-rhotic accents like mine, we sometimes drop the R sound or say it very weakly.

Ear, air.

There’s a lot of regional variation though.
Yes. There are parts of the UK where people have rhotic accents like Jay. For example, Scotland and Ireland and in the south west of England too
And there are parts of the US where they say the R sound like Vicki, like New England and parts of the south.
But generally speaking, accents in the UK are non-rhotic and accents in the US are rhotic.
So my accent is rhotic, and Vicki’s is non-rhotic.
Now, this doesn’t mean I never pronounce r sounds. I do. I say them clearly when they come in front of a vowel, much like Jay.

Red.
Red.
Kilogram.
Kilogram.
Carry.
Carry.

So we sound pretty similar there. But if the R sound is followed by a consonant, or if it’s at the end of a word, I’ll say it VERY gently. Let’s have some examples.

Heard
Heard
Work.
Work.
Turn.
Turn.
World.
World.
Hard.
Hard.
Large.
Large.
Nearly.
Nearly.
North.
North.
Hurt.
Hurt.
Park.
Park.

Did you hear the difference? Jay’s R sounds were stronger. Let’s see what happens when the R is at the end of the word now.

Farmer.
Farmer.
Here.
Here.
Brother.
Brother.
Were.
Were.
Where.
Where.
Door.
Door.
Measure.
Measure.
Weather.
Weather.
Clever.
Clever.

So in British English, it sounds like you don’t pronounce the r sound in the middle and at the end of words?
Hmmm. Yes, but my feeling is, we do pronounce it. It’s just very weak and gentle.
The R sound is one of the big differences in our accents.
We live in the US and when I speak, people normally understand me just fine, but sometimes I have to change my R sounds to try to sound American. Like, we live on a street called Arch Street. How do you say that Jay?
Arch Street.
Arch Street.
Arch Street.
You see his R sound is stronger. So if I get in a taxi, I try to copy him and I say Arrrch Street.
Oh that’s good!
Yes, well I want to be sure the taxi driver knows where to take me.
Oh. Tell everyone your refrigerator story.
OK. We needed to buy a fridge so called a department store and it had an automated voice recognition system, so I was talking to a machine not a human being. And it said ‘What department do you want?’ so I said ‘fridges’ and it said, ‘We don’t recognize that request’. So I concentrated very hard and I said Rrrefrridgeratorrrs, and it put me straight through.
Ha! So if you want to sound American, make sure you pronounce your R sounds.
Yes. We should talk about that because the R sound is one of the most difficult English sounds for my students to make.
The first thing to understand is your tongue is a very flexible instrument. You can push it out and make it pointy, or you can pull it in. For an R you need to pull it in and back so it gets fatter and thicker. The sides of your tongue might touch the inside of your teeth at the back. Rrrrr. The most common mistake my students make is they let the tip of their tongue touch the top of their mouth. Don’t do that. Your tongue can curl up and get close, but it must not touch. Rrrrr.

Rrrr.

You can hold out this sound. Try it. Rrrrr. You don’t want to drop your jaw.

Rrrun – run.
Rrrun – run.
Rrran – ran.
Rrran – ran.

In American English the lips round a little when R is at the start of a word. There’s less rounding of the lips in British English.

Red.
Red.
Wrote.
Wrote.

When R is at the end of words, there’s not much rounding in British or American.

Great. So is that it?
Yes. And I need to go now. Where did you park the car, Jay?
You mean where did I park the car? In the garage.
The garage. Bye-bye everyone.
Bye-bye.

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i before spelling rule

i before e except after c – a useful English spelling rule

English spelling is tricky because sometimes words look nothing like they sound. But here’s a rule that can help: i before e except after c.
Join Vicki and Jay at a spelling bee, or spelling competition as we call them in the UK. You’ll learn when it’s useful to apply the rule and when it isn’t. You’ll also meet our friend Claire from English at Home and learn about some British and American English differences.

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i before e except after c – an English spelling bee

Let’s face it. English spelling is crazy. The way we write words is often nothing like they sound. But maybe there are some rules we follow.
We’ve collaborated on this video with our good friend Clare from English at Home.
Clare is British like me, and she has a YouTube channel too.
Make sure you subscribe to her channel so you can see all her great lessons.
Yeah. In this lesson we’re going to take you to a spelling competition.
Or a spelling bee as we call them in American English.
While you watch, try to work out what spelling rule we’re following.

Good evening ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the Tiddly on Thames spelling competition. Let’s meet our two finalists: Jay and Vicki.
OK. The first word is for Vicki. Chief. For example, global warming is one of the chief problems we face today. Chief.
CHIEF.
Correct. Now Jay, your word is believe. For example: I don’t believe in ghosts.
Don’t you? I do.
Please spell the word, Jay.
BELIEVE.
Correct. Vicki, your next word is brief. For example, there was a brief pause in the conversation.
BRIEF.
Excellent. OK, Jay your next word is receive. For example: They posted the letter but we didn’t receive it.
So they mailed it but we didn’t get it?
Just spell the word ‘receive’, please Jay.
RECEIVE.
Correct.

Do you know the spelling rule? It’s i before e except after c. So if you’ve got an i and an e together, the i comes first.
Chief, believe and brief follow this pattern and so do lots more words:
achieve, niece, diesel, hygiene, piece, thief.
But if you have an i and an e after c, the e comes first. So receive follows this pattern and there are others.
Deceive, deceit, receipt, ceiling, conceive.
So this is the rule, but do we always follow it? Let’s go back to the competition and see.

OK, Jay, your next word is leisure. For example, when people work shorter hours, they have more leisure time.
Oh, you mean leisure.
I mean leisure. Please spell the word.
LEISURE.
Correct. Vicki, your next word is foreign: For example: Jay is American. He isn’t British. He’s foreign.
Oh yeah, foreign. FOREIGN.
Correct. The score is three points to Vicki and three points to Jay. This is the final round. Jay, your word is scientist. For example, the British scientist Charles Babbage invented the computer.
I thought it was invented by American scientists.
Just spell the word please.
SCIENTIST.
Correct. Vicki, please spell the word efficient. For example, the British National Health Service is very efficient.
Is it?
Yes, it’s excellent. EFFICIENT.
Correct.

OK, so there we saw some examples where the rule doesn’t work. The i didn’t come before the e. And there are more words where the rule doesn’t work.
Some are common words, like their, and the number eight. And there are some measurement words – weigh, weight and height. And then there’s weird.
Weird means strange or peculiar. Perhaps you can remember how to spell it because the spelling of weird is weird.
And we don’t always follow the other part rule – the except after c. So after c it should be e then i, but look at the words science and efficient. It’s i then e. We also have words like ancient, glacier and conscience.
So is it worth learning this rule if we break it? Before you answer we want to show you something.
Here are more some words that follow the rule. Notice their pronunciation. They all have an eee sound. Beleeeve, cheeeef, acheeeve, eee.
And here are some words with a c. They all follow the rule too! Again there’s an eee sound. Receeeive. Ceeeiling, deceeeive,
So if we change the rule a little, it works. We just have to add a bit that says, ‘if the word has an eee sound’.
Lets go back to the competition and see who wins.

Our competitors are tied, so we will now go to a sudden death round. You will both spell the same word. But if one person makes a mistake, the other person will win. Vicki, please put your headphones on so you can’t hear Jay’s answer.
Jay, the word is neighbour. For example, our neighbour complained about the noise from the party. Neighbour.
NEIGHBOR.
Thank you Jay. Vicki, please take off your head phones and spell the word neighbour.
NEIGHBOUR
That is the correct answer. Congratulations Vicki! Jay, I’m afraid you spelt it wrongly.
But… but my answer was right. That’s how we spell it in American English.
American spelling is weird.
Hard luck Jay and well done Vicki.

And that’s it for this week.
Make sure you subscribe to our channel to see more of our videos.
And be sure to subscribe to Clare’s channel, English at Home, too. See you next Friday everyone! Bye-bye.
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royal wedding meghan prince harry

Meghan, Harry and the Royal Wedding. What do Americans think?

Are American’s excited about the royal wedding? After all, it’s a British event.
Watch this video to find out what American’s think of Meghan and Prince Harry and to learn lots of great English expressions. This is a listening practice lesson with fast, natural English.

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Click here to learn the difference between interesting and interested.

Meghan, Prince Harry and the royal wedding

Hi. I’m Vicki and I’m British but I live in the United States.
And I’m Jay, Vicki’s husband, and I’m American.
There’s been a lot of news on the television here about the British royal wedding.
And you’re surprised?
Yes, because it’s a British event.
We’ve got some great listening practice for you today.
You’re going to hear lots of fast natural English.
And learn some great English expressions too. Are you ready?

What do you think of the royal wedding?
Have to watch it.
I think it’s going to be a very exciting event. Looking forward to it.
I think it’s great.
Do you think they show it too much on American television?
No, not at all.
Actually I’m very excited about the new royal baby. Super cute.
I’m super excited. I remember the last Royal wedding. I was in like seventh grade and we were watching it on TV so I am excited for this one. I am in love with Meghan Markle so…
Have you heard of the queen?
Yes.
What do you know about the queen?
Erm… Her name is Elizabeth. I think she wears a dress and a crown.
And a crown, of course. Excellent!
Do you think you’re going to watch the wedding?
If it’s at a time that makes sense for me, then I would like to. I don’t know if I’ll be able to, but I want to.
Will you be watching it?
Probably not live, because isn’t it going to be like four o’clock in the morning my time?
Maybe. It’s possible, or I might just catch it on YouTube.
My sister and cousin and I got up at something ungodly like 4.30 AM in California for Princess Di’s wedding and we’re all going to try to meet and recreate the whole thing…
Fantastic!
Whatever hour it’s on.
We’d like your prediction. Is this marriage going to be successful and happy?
Yes, because he’s not listening to the naysayers. He’s following his heart and Meghan’s awesome, so I think yes.
I feel like she’s going to spice it up. Like she’s going to spice up the royal family, like kind of bring some flair to, you know, everything.
I think they could probably do with that.
Yeah, I think they could use her. Yeah.
Who’s your favourite royal?
Ahhh. You know I have to give it to the queen, because she’s the queen.
I, of course, years ago, wanted to marry Prince Andrew. We all did.
Tell me, who is your favourite royal?
Oooo. Elizabeth. Elizabeth. She’s so argh! She’s so sassy. I love her.
I’ve gotta say the queen. Love her outfits. Love the hats.
Do you think America should have a queen?
I mean, we do. Beyonce. Duh!

They were great.
And they used lots of interesting expressions. Have a look at these, Jay. What’s missing?
Hmmm. I.. and I’m… If we were writing it, we’d write I and I’m.

What do you think of the Royal wedding?
Have to watch it.
I think it’s going to be a very exciting event. Looking forward to it.

When we’re speaking fast or informally, sometimes we don’t say the subject.
We understand the meaning without it.
Another interesting thing. What’s the difference between excited and exciting?
I know this one. Excited describes how you feel and exciting describes the thing that caused the feeling.
Yeah. This is worth learning because the same thing happens with lots of other adjectives.
Like interesting and interested, surprising and surprised, …
Amazing and amazed… They follow the same pattern.

I think it’s going to be a very exciting event.
I’m super excited.

We could say this in British English but usually we say very excited or really excited.
We say that too, but if we’re very, very excited, we’re super excited. They were super excited for the wedding.
Ah that’s something else. You can be excited for something in American English.
Yes, can’t you?
No we get excited ABOUT something in British English.
We can say that too.

I remember the last Royal wedding, I was in like seventh grade and we were watching it on TV so I am excited for this one.
Actually I’m very excited about the new royal baby. Super cute.
So super cute is very, very cute.

Yes. We met someone who was super cute.
Yes!

Erm… Her name is Elizabeth. I think she wears a dress and a crown.

This is a crown.
Very nice. Now there’s a time difference between the UK and the US, so the wedding might be early in the morning here.
Will you be watching it?
Probably not live, because isn’t it going to be like four in the morning my time?
Maybe. It’s possible, or I might just catch it on YouTube.

If we watch something live, we watch it in real time – the time it’s happening.
And if we catch something, like a TV program or show, we see or hear it.
Yes, like ‘Do you want to catch a movie later?’
It’s informal and it’s more common in American than British English.

My sister and cousin and I got up at something ungodly like 4.30 AM in California for Princess Di’s wedding and we’re all going to try to meet and recreate the whole thing… whatever hour it’s on.

She was a real fan.
Yes and notice the word ‘ungodly’.
An ungodly hour and means super-early.
Or very very late. It’s an unreasonable time.
An annoying time.
Yeah. OK, next one. What do you think naysayers means?

We’d like your prediction. Is this marriage going to be successful and happy?
Yes, because he’s not listening to the naysayers. He’s following his heart and Meghan’s awesome, so I think yes.

Nay is an old-fashioned word for no.
And a naysayer is a very negative person.
They always give you reasons for why things won’t work.
We don’t like naysayers.
We like people who are positive and optimistic. And people who spice things up.

I feel like she’s going to spice it up. Like she’s gonna spice up the royal family, like kind of bring some flair to, you know, everything.

Spices are powders and seeds that we use in cooking.
If we spice up food we give it a strong taste and smell.
But we can spice up other things too. It means make them more interesting and exciting
What about flair?
If you have flair then you do things in an interesting way.
With imagination.
Yeah. OK, next one.

Tell me, who is your favourite royal?
Oooo. Elizabeth. Elizabeth. She’s so… argh! She’s so sassy. I love her.
I’ve gotta say the queen. Love her outfits. Love the hats.

Sassy is a lovely word. It means she doesn’t care what people think.
It means she’s fashionable and confident.
Sassy is an American word. I think we’d understand it but we don’t say it much in British English.
Really? What would you say then?
Maybe feisty?
Sassy can also have a negative meaning. If a child is rude and doesn’t show respect, they can be sassy.
So if you tell a child to do something and they answer back?
Then they’re sassy. What would you say in British English?
Cheeky. It means rude and disrespectful, but often in a funny way.
You know, I think it’s going to be hard for Meghan being married to a Brit.
Why?
Because you sound funny.
You cheeky devil!
OK, the last one.

Do you think America should have a queen?
I mean, we do. Beyonce. Duh!

Duh! This is another American word that I love.
We say it when someone says something stupid.
And often in a joking way. Like here.
Yeah. Obviously Beyonce is America’s queen. Duh!
And that’s it everyone.
We want to say a big thank you to everyone who appeared in this video.
Yes, you were great.
If you’ve enjoyed this video, please share it with a friend and hit that subscribe button.
See you next Friday everyone. Bye.
Bye-bye.
Click here to see videos about British and American English differences.
Click here to learn the difference between interesting and interested.

different to different from

Different to, different than or different from? A British and American Difference

Should you say different to or different than? Or should you say different from? In this short video you’ll learn what we say in British and American English.

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Click here to learn how to use the prepositions for and to

Different to, different than or different from?

How do we use to and than when we’re comparing things?
Now this was a question we had from Sohan Pandy. Do we say different to or different than?
Or do we say something else? Let’s find out.

Hi everyone, I’m Vicki.
And I’m Jay.
Jay looks different from normal because he has a moustache today
Do you want one too?
Yes,
Here you go.

Did you notice what preposition I used after different? I said from. If you’re wondering what preposition to use, say from. It’s what we normally say.
Different to and different than are also possible and they mean the same thing. They’re just not very common.

Your moustache is bigger. It’s different to mine.
You mean it’s different than mine.
No. You see, there’s a British and American difference here.
So British English is different than American
No, British English is different to American.

‘Different to’ and ‘different than’ mean the same thing. It’s just we say ‘to’ in British English and ‘than’ in American. But in both varieties we usually say from.
I’m American and ‘different to’ sounds strange to me.
Yes, it’s more common in British English. And ‘different than’ sounds wrong to me, because I’m British.
Except it’s correct in American. But usually we say ‘different from’.
Yes, so say different from. It’s what we normally say and you can’t go wrong.
And that’s it for this week. Make sure you tune in next Friday for another English lesson and don’t forget to subscribe.
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clothes

British and American words for clothes – they’re different!

I had to learn some new words when I went shopping for clothes in the US. I’m British and I had some puzzled looks from shop assistants when I used my English words. Here’s a short video that goes through some of the different words we have for clothing in British and American English.

Click here to see more videos about British and American English differences.

Closet.
Wardrobe.
Pants.
Trousers.
Pants.
Underwear.
Knickers.
Panties.
Vest.
Undershirt.
Vest.
Waistcoat.
Suspenders.
Braces.
Suspenders.
Cuffs.
Turn ups.
Cuffs.
Cuffs.
Galoshes.
Wellies. It’s short for wellington boots.
Sneakers.
Trainers.
Jumper.
Sweater.
Diaper.
Nappy.
Fanny pack.
Bum bag.
Bath robe.
Dressing gown.
Bathing suit.
Bathing suit.
Swimming costume.
Derby.
Bowler hat.

Click here to see more videos about British and American English differences.

can can't pronunciation

How to say Can and Can’t in British and American

Learn how to pronounce can and can’t in British and American English. Can is pronounced in much the same way in both varieties, but can’t is very different.  It explains one of the (many) reasons why Vicki sometimes find it hard to understand Jay.

Click here to learn about some more British and American differences.
Click here to see more pronunciation videos
Click here to learn to use can, could and may to ask for permission.

Can Can’t pronunciation video script

Hi! This video’s about how we pronounce the words can and can’t in British and American English.
She means can and can’t.
Can and can’t.
Yeah, can and can’t.
I’m Vicki and I’m British.
And I’m Jay and I’m American.
We’ve received requests for a video on how we pronounce these two words.
I’m not surprised. Sometimes Vicki doesn’t understand me.
Yeah.

I don’t want you to see.
I can’t see.
Oh well let me try again.
Why? I can’t see.
Do yopu mean you can or you can’t see?
I can’t see.

When Jay says can’t, sometimes I think he’s saying can. It’s hard to hear the difference, but don’t worry. We’ll go step by step and show you how we pronounce these two words.
Let’s start with the word ‘can’. We both pronounce it in two ways. Strongly – can, and weakly – c’n. See if you can hear the difference.

Can you hear me?
Yes, I can. Can you hear me?
Yes I can.

C’n… C’n you hear me? That’s weak. Yes I can. Can. That’s strong. Jay and I both say can and c’n.

C’n… C’n you hear me?
C’n… C’n you hear me?

C’n. It links with the next word. It links with the next word. C’n you… C’n you hear me? There’s no gap. But notice, that when we give a short answer, we both say ‘can’ strongly.

Yes, I can.
Yes, I can.

Can is longer and higher in pitch. It’s stressed. So what’s happening here? Well, normally when we’re speaking, we pronounce ‘can’ weakly. C’n. But If we’re emphasizing can and stressing the word, we use the strong form. Can.

Can’t you hear me?
No, I CAN hear you.

We always use the strong form in short answers.

Can you hear me?
Yes, I can. Cnn you hear me?
Yes I can.

Did you hear the difference between can (c’n) and can there? OK. Great. Now let’s look at ‘can’t’.

Can’t is pronounced differently in British and American.
Yes. I say can’t.
And I say can’t.
That’s different. Listen.

Can’t.
Can’t.
Can’t.
Can’t.

It’s a different vowel sound. Did you hear it?

Can’t.
Can’t.
Can’t.
Can’t.

So what happens when we use ‘can’t’ in a sentence? Let’s look at some examples.

Jay had surgery on his hand this week.
I can’t open jars. And I can’t chop. Oh, but I can write. That’s because I’m left handed.

Listen carefully to how Jay says ‘can’t’ here. When we write ‘can’t’, it ends with ‘t’. But does Jay pronounce the ‘t’?

I can’t open jars.

There was no ‘t’ sound!

I can’t open jars.
I can’t see.

No ‘t’ sound! Jay puts a stop on the word so it ends suddenly and the ‘t’ disappears. See if you can hear the difference.

Can.
Can’t.
Can.
Can’t.
Can.
Can’t.

They sound similar, don’t they? But can’t is a little shorter. It ends more suddenly.

Can.
Can’t.

Now what about British English? Here’s how I say it.

He can’t open jars.

You can hear the t sound. It connects can’t and open and links the two words together. Can’t-open.

He can’t open jars.

The t sound gets added to the next word. OK, another example. But this one’s different.

Hello. Hello. I can’t hear you.
Oh!

Did you hear a ‘t’ sound there? Listen again.

I can’t hear you.

I didn’t pronounce the ‘t’! Sometimes in British English, we’re like Americans. We don’t pronounce the ‘t’.

I can’t hear you.

So what’s happening here? Often in spoken English, we don’t pronounce the final t sound clearly in negative words that end ‘nt. So words like can’t, don’t and won’t become can(’t), don(’t), and won(’t). The t sound can disappear when we’re speaking. This happens a lot in American English. And it sometimes happens in British English too. So instead of saying don’t we say don(’t).

I don(’t) know.
I don(’t) know.

And instead of saying won’t we say won(’t).

No, I won(’t).
No, I won(’t).

And the same thing happens with can’t. Instead of saying can’t we say can(’t). We just say /n/ at the end. Can(‘t). Can(‘t). It’s a quick /n/ sound. Try it. /n/ /n/. The sound is in your nose.
In British English, we generally pronounce our t sounds more clearly than Americans, especially if we’re speaking carefully. But when we’re speaking casually and informally, we often don’t say them – just like Americans.

I can(’t).
I can(’t).

In British English, sometimes we say the ‘t’ and sometimes we don’t.

I can’t see.
I can(‘t) see.

So shall we review?
Yeah. In British and American English, when we say ‘I ca’n do it’, can sounds like c’n.
That’s right. And in American, when you say ‘I can’t do it’, ‘can’t’ sounds like ‘can’.
That’s right. ‘I can’t do it.’
So in American English can is c’n and can’t is can(t).
That’s right. Can(’t.)
American English is hard!
No, it’s easy! What do you think?
We have more videos on differences between British and American English and if you click here you can see some.
And make sure you subscribe to our channel because we produce a new video every week.
Happy studying everyone! Bye.
Bye.

Click here to learn about some more British and American differences.
Click here to see more pronunciation videos
Click here to learn to use can, could and may to ask for permission.

US Election Special and American and British English Group Nouns

US Election Special and American and British English Group Nouns

Come join me and find out what a US political rally is like.

And the home of the brave. God bless you all.

This weekend I went to my first American political rally and I thought you might like to see it too.

Hello Simple English Videos!

Philadelphia! Are you ready to elect Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine? We are. We are.

Hi! I’m so excited to be here tonight. This has been a very unusual election. And I think it’s pretty obvious that young people like all of you who I am seeing in front of us tonight… This election matters to everybody, but it matters more to you. Thank you so much.

Let’s look at some of the words we heard.

Philadelphia, are you ready to elect Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine?

To elect is a verb – an action -and the event where people vote is an election.

This has been a very unusual election.

But there’s another word you might not know: the electorate. It’s all the people in a country who have the right to vote. I’m a British citizen and I can’t vote in the United States, so I’m not part of the group that can. I’m not a member of the electorate.
So electorate is group of people and in British English we can use it with a singular or plural verb form. But in American English it’s only used with a singular verb form. There are other nouns for groups where this happens as well. We can use singular or plural verb forms in British English but only singular ones in American English. So watch out for those.
The event we saw is called a rally and it was organized to boost or increase support for Hillary. Do people hold similar rallies in your country, or are they different? In the UK I think most rallies are organized to protest things rather than show support, and I don’t think people would be so excited. I think you wouldn’t see as many flags, as well. We’d love to know more about rallies where you are, so tell us in the comments.
And also, this election matters here, but do you think this American election could matter to you as well? Are you interested in the results and do you want Hillary to win?
Oooo. And one last thing. I wanted to say I’m sorry about the shaky camera work in the video of the rally. I took a tripod but security was very tight and the secret service stopped me from taking it in. OK. We’ll be back next week with a regular lesson. See you there!

Give me a thumbs up if you like it. Yeah!

To find out about a playlist of videos made by English teachers about the 2016 election, click here.

abbreviations

British Abbreviations. Learn about English short forms

There are abbreviations in British English that Americans don’t use – words like brolly and chippie. I wonder if you know them? This video is about some differences in British and American abbreviations and you’ll learn some common British short forms. We made this video after the collaboration we did with other ESL YouTubers for the World Story-Telling Day Project.


Click here to see the story we made for World Story-Telling Day
Click here to learn about lots more British and American differences.

Abbreviations Video Transcript

Hi everyone. This lesson’s a little different to normal because last Sunday was World Storytelling Day. We got together with five other YouTube teachers to create a story. Did you see it? Click here if not.
Do you remember the names of the girls in the story? They were called Lilly and Philly. Now Philly is an abbreviation of Phyllis and it’s also the abbreviation for Philadelphia – the city where I live.
Philly is in the United States, but I come from England originally. And I’ve noticed something interesting. We seem to have some abbreviations in British English that they don’t have here in American English. So I thought I’d try some on Jay.

You know what my theory is, Jay.
What’s your theory?
You hear me but you don’t listen.
Of course I listen.
OK, here’s your first question.
When do you need a brolly? A brolly.
When it’s raining.
Very good. What is a brolly?
It’s an umbrella.
Excellent. Excellent. OK, second question. When do I wear a cossie? A cossie.
I have no clue.
I’ll give you a clue. When we go on holiday, I like to wear a cossie.
A swimming costume. That’s what we call a bathing suit.
A swimming costume. You call it a bathing suit in American English, but in British English it’s a swimming costume. Bathing suit sounds very old fashioned to us. It’s a bit strange in British English. OK, next question. OK. What would you find at a chippie? At a chippie.
Saw dust?
Ummm. You can find something to eat at a chippie.
A chips place, like, like…
Yeah, fish and chips. French fries and fish.
No, fish and chips. Or shish and fips as we used to say when I was a kid.
Right, erm…
The last question. Now this one’s different to the others. It’s an odd man out question. I’m going to give you four words and you have to tell me which one is the odd man out. Here are the words. Cabbie. Hubby. Postie. Brickie.
OK, a cabbie is a cab driver. We say the same thing in America. Hubby we also say is short for husband. Postie I’m guessing is a mail man.
You’re doing better than I thought you would.
And I don’t know what a brickie is.
A brickie is a brick layer. Someone who lays bricks.
Ah. So the brick layer, the cabbie and the postman, or mail man, they’re all workers. The hubby may or may not be. So the hubby is the odd man out.
That’s right. So you did pretty well there, Jay.
Well, I’ve been around you long enough to have picked up a few things.
OK, in that case you can translate for us now.
I’ll try.

Let’s take a break.
Yeah, let’s have a cuppa.
She means a cup of tea.
Let’s have a cuppa and a bickie too.
A biscuit. She means a cookie.
Let’s have a cuppa and a chockie bickie.
A cup of tea and a chocolate cookie.
Sounds good to me!

I hope you enjoyed the abbreviations and I hope you enjoyed the story. A big thank you to English with Jennifer for organising it, and the channels of all the other terrific teachers who took part. And don’t forget to subscribe to them.

Click here to see the story we made for World Story-Telling Day
Click here to learn about lots more British and American differences.