It’s hard to believe that “g’day mate”, “you alright?”, or “how’s it going?” are all different greetings in English to say “hello” or ask how someone is doing.

Many English language learners find it confusing to understand the difference between British, Australian, and American (from the United States) English. Although, it’s important to remember that these are three varieties of English that are more similar than different. These differences can help spice up your English language learning experience!

*Please note: when referring to “American English” this is specifically English spoken in the United States

Major difference between the three types of English:

The most obvious difference between the British, Australian and American English is in the accent (or pronunciation), especially with vowel sounds.

For example, American English uses a clear “r” sound (especially at end of words) and Australian and British English don’t pronounce a clear /r/ sound (especially the end of a word or syllable). In Australian or Britain the word “car” would be pronounced without the final “r” sound (i.e. “ca”) and “warmer” would be pronounced without the middle “r” sound  (i.e. /wamer/).

Another major difference between American English and British or Australian English is the intonation when asking questions. One’s voice goes up at the end of a yes or no question with American English, but with Australian and British English one’s voice goes down.

There are also some major difference between vocabulary and spelling with the three different types of English. For example, in the United States and Britain they call two pieces of bread with a protein or vegetable in the middle a “sandwich” and in Australia they call this a “sanga.”

Below is a list of popular phrases or words that are commonly used in these three different English-speaking countries.

Australian English:

  •  “Aussie” refers to someone who’s Australian. 

    • Aussies are known for being great surfers.

    • She’s one hundred percent Aussie.

  • “Mate” means friend (“mate” is also used in British English).

    • My mate and I went to the movies last weekend.

    • Your mate is really fun; we should hang out with him again.

  • “G’day” (pronounced “geh-day”) means “hello” or “how’re you?”

    • If someone greats you with “g’day” a common response is, “not bad” or “great.”

  •  “Crikey!” or “Streuth!” (pronounced “krai-kee” and “strooth”) are both exclamations of bewilderment, shock or surprise.

    • Crikey! Did you see the size of that spider?

    • Streuth! You were almost hit by a car?!

  • “How ya going?” means “how’re you?” 

    • A common response to “how ya going” would be “alright, how’re you?”, “alright, thanks”, “good, but…” or “not bad, thanks”

  • “Fair dinkum” or “dinky die” are both used to say something is true.

    • She’s as dinky die as you get.

    • I finally did it mate! Fair dinkum.

  • “True Blue” is a way to say “the real thing.” Originally it meant to be patriotic, but today it means genuine or authentically Australian.

  • She’s Chinese and he’s true blue Aussie.

British English:

  • “Bloody” means “very.” This is a great way to show emphasis when you’re speaking.

    • That meal was bloody delicious!

    • The movie was bloody awful.

  • “Rubbish” literally means “garbage” or “trash.” If you don’t like something this is the perfect word to use to say it’s worthless or untrue.

    • That’s rubbish!

    • I talked to my boss today and she agreed that my salary is pure rubbish. She said she’d give me a raise starting next week.

  • “Lovely” is a common British word to use if you want to express affection or approval for someone or something (commonly used amongst the older generation; specifically women). 

  • This is a lovely cup of coffee.

  • He was a lovely young man, wasn’t he?

  • “Pissed” means someone has drank a large amount of alcohol and is intoxicated or drunk (not to be confused with American English which uses this word to say someone is extremely angry or irritated).

    • I was so pissed last night that I couldn’t even walk in a straight line.

    • After only a few drinks he was pissed.

  • “Bodge” is a word used to say that a repair job is of a low-quality or is not done well. 

    • When I was a kid I had a bike that was bodged together.

    • We need to get this report right; we can’t take a chance on bodging it. 

  • “Chuffed to bits” is a common way in Britain to say you’re very pleased with someone or something. 

    • If someone is excited about taking a vacation to a new place you could say “they’re chuffed to bits about traveling to Cuba.”

  • “Cheeky” means playful or mischievous. 

    • Katie gave her a cheeky grin.

    • The boy was cheeky with his mum (“mum” is used in Britain and Australia and “mom” is used in the United States).

  • “You alright?” or “alright?” is a common way to say “hello!” in Britain. You can simply respond by nodding your head or saying “Hi.” This sounds like a question, but it’s simply a greeting.

  • “Fancy a cuppa’?” means “would you like a cup of tea?” As many people already know, tea is a huge part of British culture and it’s very common to be offered a cup of tea if you visit a British friend. 

American English:

  • “How’s it going?” or “what’s up?” is a common way for people from the United States to ask “how’re you?” or “how’re you doing?” 

    • A common response would be, “I’m good”, “I’m okay” or “I’m not doing so great.”

  • “Awesome” or “cool” are popular ways to express that you think someone or something is amazing or wonderful.

    • If you’re making plans with someone they may say, “I’ll pick you up at 8 o’clock, okay?” and you could respond, “Cool, see you then.”

    • Someone may ask, “What’d you think of the movie?” and you could reply, “It was awesome!” 

  • “Costs an arm and a leg” means that something is really expensive. 

    • I really want to buy that coat, but it costs an arm and a leg.

  • “Oh my God”, “oh my gosh” or “OMG” are all ways to emphasize surprise or shock.

    • OMG, did you see how big that pizza was?!

    • Oh my gosh, I haven’t seen you in so long!

  • “Hang out” is a way to talk about spending time at a certain place or with someone. 

    • Someone may ask, “Where do you want to hang out?” and you could respond, “let’s hang out at your place. My roommates are watching the soccer game today” (people from the United States use the term “soccer” and the British and Australians say “football”).

    • “I just hung out and relaxed at my house all weekend.”

  • “Chill out” means to relax. 

    • We’re just chilling out at my place. You’re welcome to come over if you want

(if someone tells you to “chill out” they’re telling you to not overact about a situation or get too stressed about something small).

  • “Have a blast” is a way to say that someone or something is fun. 

    • The concert was a blast!

    • I had so much fun hanging out with him. He was such a blast!