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.

“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. Advertisementuhd-VER-tis-muhntAD-ver-ties-muhnt
2. Baldbor-ldbold
3. Cliquecleekclik
4. Eithereye-thuhee-thuhr
5. EnvelopeEN-VUH-lohp / ON-vuh-lohp
6. EsplanadeES-pluh-naydES-pluh-nard
7. LeisureLEZH-uhLEE-zhuhr
8. MobileMOH-bye-ulMOH-buhl
9. MissileMIS-eye-ulMIS-uhl
10. NeitherNIGH-thuhNEE-thuh
11. Nicheneeshnitch
12. OftenOF-uhn / OF-tuhn
13. ParliamentPAR-li-muhntPAR-luh-muhnt
14. PrivacyPRIV-uh-seePRAI-vuh-see
15. SemiSEM-eeSEM-eye
16. ScheduleSHED-joolSKED-jool
17. Sconeskonskohn
18. Stancestarnsstans
19. Tomatotuh-MAR-toetuh-MAY-toe
20. Vasevarzvays
21. VitaminVIT-uh-minVAI-tuh-min
22. Wrathrothrath

Bonus Words

Word

British Pronunciation

American Pronunciation

AmenAh-MENAy-MEN
AsiaAY-shureAY-zhure
BasilBah-suhlBay-suhl
BuddhaBUD-uhBOOD-uh
CrescentCREZ-uhntCRES-uhnt
DynastyDIN-uh-steeDIE-nuh-stee
Evolutionee-vuh-LOO-shuneh-vuh-LOO-shun
Expatriateek-SPAT-ri-uhtek-SPAY-tri-uht
FalconFORL-cuhnFAL-cuhn
HerbHERBERB
MedicineMED-suhnMED-ee-suhn
Nissannis-annis-arn
PastaPAS-tuhPAR-stuh
PatentPAY-tuhntPAT-uhnt
PatronisePAT-ruhn-eyezPAY-truhn-eyez
Produce (noun)prod-joosproh-joos
Progress (noun)PROH-gressPROG-ress
Project (noun)PROH-jectPROJ-ect
RouteROOTROUT
VendorVEN-duhVEN-door
VersionVER-shunVER-zhun
Yogurtyog-uhtyoh-gurt
ZebraZEB-ruhZEE-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.

6 Comments

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

    31/03/2015