22 Words with British and American Pronunciations that may Confuse you

British English vs. American English: Pronunciation

I have documented many mispronounced words, however this entry concentrates on words you are probably saying correctly, as there are two ways to say them.

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“How should we pronounce these words in Singapore”

Most of the words have either a British (BrE) pronunciation or an American (AmE) pronunciation. In Singapore there is quite a mix of pronunciations, even if English is based on the British system (spelling etc.). For example in Singapore; privacy, vitamin, tomato are commonly pronounced the American way, and advertisement, missile, and mobile are pronounced the British way.

So which pronunciation should you use?

“Both also can”

Word

British Pronunciation

American Pronunciation

1. Advertisement uhd-VER-tis-muhnt AD-ver-ties-muhnt
2. Bald bor-ld bold
3. Clique cleek clik
4. Either eye-thuh ee-thuhr
5. Envelope EN-VUH-lohp / ON-vuh-lohp
6. Esplanade ES-pluh-nayd ES-pluh-nard
7. Leisure LEZH-uh LEE-zhuhr
8. Mobile MOH-bye-ul MOH-buhl
9. Missile MIS-eye-ul MIS-uhl
10. Neither NIGH-thuh NEE-thuh
11. Niche neesh nitch
12. Often OF-uhn / OF-tuhn
13. Parliament PAR-li-muhnt PAR-luh-muhnt
14. Privacy PRIV-uh-see PRAI-vuh-see
15. Semi SEM-ee SEM-eye
16. Schedule SHED-jool SKED-jool
17. Scone skon skohn
18. Stance starns stans
19. Tomato tuh-MAR-toe tuh-MAY-toe
20. Vase varz vays
21. Vitamin VIT-uh-min VAI-tuh-min
22. Wrath roth rath

Bonus Words

Word

British Pronunciation

American Pronunciation

Amen Ah-MEN Ay-MEN
Asia AY-shure AY-zhure
Basil Bah-suhl Bay-suhl
Buddha BUD-uh BOOD-uh
Crescent CREZ-uhnt CRES-uhnt
Dynasty DIN-uh-stee DIE-nuh-stee
Evolution ee-vuh-LOO-shun eh-vuh-LOO-shun
Expatriate ek-SPAT-ri-uht ek-SPAY-tri-uht
Falcon FORL-cuhn FAL-cuhn
Herb HERB ERB
Medicine MED-suhn MED-ee-suhn
Nissan nis-an nis-arn
Pasta PAS-tuh PAR-stuh
Patent PAY-tuhnt PAT-uhnt
Patronise PAT-ruhn-eyez PAY-truhn-eyez
Produce (noun) prod-joos proh-joos
Progress (noun) PROH-gress PROG-ress
Project (noun) PROH-ject PROJ-ect
Route ROOT ROUT
Vendor VEN-duh VEN-door
Version VER-shun VER-zhun
Yogurt yog-uht yoh-gurt
Zebra ZEB-ruh ZEE-bruh

These lists are really focused on single differences where the vowel or consonant are sounded differently. Please do forgive me if in some cases an American or British speaker can use both, when I’ve said otherwise.

Take a look at this article for reasons why there is a difference in the first place. Generally, “the British took a French word and re-pronounced it according to English spelling rules, while Americans preferred a pronunciation that sounded more French, even if the word is still heavily Anglicized.”

Interestingly, in Britain a lot of the American pronunciations are creeping into everyday usage. For example:

  • Schedule (SKED-jool)
  • Advertisement (AD-ver-ties-muhnt)

Linguists put changing pronunciations down to the influence of broadcasters and US culture.

There is so much more to cover in terms of pronunciation differences including but not limited to:

  • Which syllable to stress in a word
  • Rhoticity (sounding or not sounding the ‘r’ sound in words)

Try to be clear and pronounce words correctly based on the dictionary definition.

5 thoughts on “22 Words with British and American Pronunciations that may Confuse you

  1. I like how you lay everything out. Thanks!

  2. Americans do not say PAR-stuh, we say PAH-stuh. We don't add rhotics after an "a", except maybe in Boston.

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