British English & North American English: Pronunciation & Accent Differences


Hi and welcome back to engVid today we have a special treat for you this is

like an amazing video because we are joined by Emma hello

everyone Emma as you probably know is one of the

most popular teachers on engVid and we're very lucky to have her

here and we're going to be discussing the

differences some of the differences between the

American and the British sound and I should just

make a quick correction we're going to be talking about the North American

sound so we're this includes Canadian English

and American English so there are many differences between

the British accent and the American or Canadian accent

let's start by talking about one of the biggest differences

which is the pronunciation of r in American and Canadian English we have

a very strong r sound so what we're going to do

is we're going to actually hear the difference between how i

pronounce a list of r sounds and how benjamin

pronounces the list of r sounds okay so let's get


father father sister sister bar

work work so you might have noticed that my r sounds are a lot stronger and they

sound more like er whereas like you're kind of rolling

the r exactly whereas your sounds a lot softer

and a bit quieter less strong sure um that said there are accents in the UK

where the r sound would be strong for example the um

anywhere in the west of the UK so the west country um

more sort of pirate culture I suppose has that r

sound oh okay um so we're now going to have a go at doing

one another's accent just for a couple of these words

so which word should I try and do in a

North American accent Emma hmm let's try car

car that was actually really good okay so I'm terrible with

British accents but I'm going to now try to pronounce

this in a British way so at the moment with that vowel sound

where you're almost sort of changing it into a diphthong where you're making two

separate vowel sounds whereas actually in a sort of modern day British accent

it would just be the single vowel sound of

ah ah yeah car car car car yeah with kind of imagine it

like a k r car

okay so we have talked about the American and Canadian

r if you're interested in learning how to produce

this sound I actually have a video on the pronunciation of

r now what we're going to talk about is another big difference between the

British accent and the North American accent and that

has to do with what I call the middle t

sometimes in North American English we pronounce

t's like d's this happens when the t is in the middle of a word

so for example I would pronounce this as city so I would not say si ti

I'd pronounce this t like a d city how would you pronounce this city

so notice he is using more of a t sound while I'm using more of a d

sound again I would pronounce this like a d

party party okay water water see that's a very

big difference I think in our accents with this specific word water

and water what water sorry um for numbers we do this a lot

in North American English so I'd say 30 40 50 60 and how would you say them

30 40 50 60. so again notice he's pronouncing a lot more of the t sound

so here is a sentence that has a lot of t's I'm going to say this in the North

American way and then you will say this in your

accent in the British way so again listen to the ts and how i

pronounce them like d's betty bought a bit of better butter

uh betty bought a bit of better butter okay so notice there is a very big

difference between our accents um for this sentence um I just want to

point out that Emma that i don't feel representative of a British

accent that the British accent is really really diverse and it's very

difficult to sort of pin it down so I would be um

people would classify my voice as being an rp accent

um which is basically a region neutral accent generally down in

the south of england um that is to do with sort of social

classes as well um but yeah I'm sure if there were kind of

English natives watching this they'd be like that's not my accent

so yeah just wanted to point that out and I should also clarify that

although I'm talking about North American English and pronunciation

i also might pronounce things more in a Canadian way

but again there's many different accents in Canada and in the united states

and there's a lot of shared similarities so in this video we're talking about

some of the more common features that are different between um North

American and British accent but again there are many accents within

each group yeah and actually uh Gill has made a video on

the different accents in the UK so if you do want to find out more about

it that would be a good video to look at so we've covered the strong r and we've

covered the middle t if you're interested in learning more

about the pronunciation of the middle t sound in North American English i

actually have a video on that so you can learn how to produce it

but now we are going to look at stress in words

there is sometimes a difference in where we place stress

in words in British English versus North American English

again stress refers to when we say a part of the word

louder and longer so we are going to say these different words and I want you

to listen carefully to where we are putting the stretch okay

so let's start with the first word vitamin how would you say this

i would use to do this vowel a bit differently I would say

vitamin vitamin yeah so I say vitamin and I'm vitamin vitamin

the next word is advertisement um advertisement

advertisement yeah I mean often we'll shorten it just to

advert um so how do you say advert we say ads so we shorten it even

more yeah but with the word advert yeah

advert so I think that's similar but advert you be the judge

okay you can see on this one that we got very confused about how to spell it

because it's spelt differently in North america to um

the UK so when Emma wrote this I was like no no

there's an I we had an argument about spelling

and um we had to write both so the answer is that in

um North america it's about just with a no I here but in the rest of the world

the rest of the English speaking world uh we have this eye here

and if you're wondering what this means it's a type

of element or metal uh we often talk about aluminum foil

so it's just I guess an element on the periodic table

is that or aluminium foil whoa so let's hear that difference in

pronunciation again how would you say this aluminium I would

say aluminum aluminum and he's saying

aluminium aluminium so again this is very different

the next word I think there is a difference in the vowel sound here

so I would say zebra whereas i would say zebra zebra

zebra okay so again a difference i hear British people use this word a

lot and it always sounds very different to my ears when I hear it I would say

garage there are two ways of pronouncing it in

uh British English garage or garage okay

so garage

okay so again different ways to pronounce this

and a bit different uh the next word princess princess whereas well

just to make a comment on on the sound of the American

um like often it goes in terms of like pitch the pitch goes

down so Emma just said princess like it kind of

went down um so if you're trying to replicate the

American accent think of going down the stairs

i like that um I like that visual too of going down the stairs

so how would you say this word princess okay

and it's it's a bit of a can be a bit of a derogatory

term like if you call someone a bit of a princess then you're saying

come on you're being a bit a bit pathetic

and we we have the same meaning actually where

it can be an insult to here what about this last one

i would say vaccine uh we would have less stress on the end

here so just be vaccine it's kind of almost like you're

swallowing that sound at the end vaccine okay okay so some of these words are

very different some of them are a little bit more similar like I think vaccine

there's less of a difference but still a small one

yeah compared to like aluminum yeah aluminium

all right so now benjamin is going to tell us some of the differences he has

noticed um okay I'm just going to scrub this off

so we've started to see some of the very basic

differences between a standard American accent and a loosely British accent

and as Emma has pointed out she's got a couple of videos

on the topic and I also have a lesson on rp if people want to understand more

about what that is what I'm looking at here is some of the

differences between the accents in the UK

um are you which accents are you aware of Emma I've said

I've heard of the cockney accent okay um

where's that from London yeah oh good okay um and I've also heard

of I think a south English accent that's more posh is my

understanding and I've also heard that the North

accent is less posh but this is what I've heard

yeah yeah well yeah it's um it's a generalization but

in the way it sounds I mean in the south of the UK there are accents as well so

you've got the West Country where we you know drink

cider and play a bit of cricket on the wicket in

the village and all that and um you know the more sort of

cockney accent so this demonstrates a cockney accent here quite well because

in uh RP uh the sort of formal version of English

it's you have all the h's and it's like harry

harry is huge but if you're in a London cab

and you're speaking to a local he'd be like arie aaron he's huge that one in me

so inny he goes to e and inny um can you try and give me a

cockney accent ariary ariery harry arie

airy airy meaning yet hair air airy airy airy airy

arry yeah boy he's huge isn't he um okay so these are some features

of the um RP accent we have our h's a very clipped precise tone so

whereas in uh sort of more like urban English where um

it's almost it's kind of considered uncool if you pronounce all the

consonants and people are trying to like sort of fit in

and they don't want their voice to to stand out they'll be like I haven't

got much freight I haven't got very much time for you today

for you today I haven't or even like more slang

i ain't got much time for you today i ain't got much time here today

so haven't could be replaced by with ain't

um but if we're trying to pronounce that absolutely correctly it would be like

all the vocal energy is here in the mouth I haven't got

very much time for you today okay give it a go I uh

can you say it one more time and then I'll say it I haven't got very much time

for you today i haven't got very much time for you

today pretty good today today yeah

okay cool that was good oh oh thank you um so the vowel sound

typically we will have a uh like kind of an r r which is quite

identifiably um RP so for example people disagree

about how the greatest music festival is pronounced Emma you would say

Glastonbury yes I think most people of my generation

in the UK would say it like that as well but some

of the older generation of RP speakers would say Glastonbury

glossed and berry brie brie oh so this isn't berry it's brie yeah

glossed in free yeah um which always sounds really

weird to me um so just practicing some of those

um that sound so if you repeat after me Emma so rather rather

yep craft craft how would you say this city in the

southwest do you want the North American or how I think you would

say it yeah

bath I love it when she does her interaction which

cracks me up um smart smart okay so

really to make this RP sound in in a nutshell you're using your vocal um

muscles around the lips you're thinking forward the sound

uh pronouncing everything very um correctly where there's a t you're

making those t sounds you're keeping those h's in and

you're making this r sound okay so it's an

r sound so now to demonstrate um the differences between the American

and the British sound we're going to read a

piece of text so you can really start to notice it and

Emma has chosen this text very carefully because it actually

incorporates most of the different consonants and vowel sounds

correct okay so we have here a part of the grandfather passage

what we are going to do if it's okay with you is I'm going to

say a sentence from this and then you can say a sentence and we're going to

compare our accents what I want you to really

focus on is how we pronounce our r's remember the strong r versus more of the

soft r listen to how we pronounce our vowels

maybe this the stress in some of the words we use as well as

our teas okay is there anything you want the

audience to pay attention to uh let's see it in action okay

you wish to know all about my grandfather

you wish to know all about my grandfather

okay so this it was for me this was less about the the actual

sounds it was more about the kind of the sing-song nature of uh

you know the different melody of of them could you read it one more time please

Emma sure you wish to know all about my

grandfather okay you wish to know all about my

grandfather she says you wish to know all about my

grandfather so I would say that if you're looking at

the sort of the rise and fall the melody here

but probably the British one was a little bit flatter whereas there was a

bit more um of the sing-song nature to your

uh rendition yeah I would agree with that

and I would also say one other thing um the way we said grandfather

is also different again that is the strong r I'm saying

er grandfather whereas yours was a bit more

subtle and a bit of a softer art yeah just sort of drops off in the British

English um great next sentence

well he is nearly 93 years old yet he still thinks as swiftly as ever

okay so again we've got that r sound at the end

quite a long sentence this one could you say it one more time for me

sure well he is nearly 93 years old yet he still thinks as swiftly as ever

so this word is going to be different in British to American

Emma says it as 93. and I for me it'd be 93. so again that's that t sound

I'm saying it like a d 90 whereas you're saying it like a

70 yeah okay I'll read it all the entire sentence well he is

nearly 93 years old yet he still thinks as swiftly as ever

i also noticed a difference on the way we said ever again that's that

r sound so I'm saying ever whereas you're saying

ever ever so less of that r okay let's keep finding out about

grandfather okay he dresses himself in an

old black frock coat sorry let me say that again

he dresses himself in an old black frock coat

usually several buttons missing now this vowel sound is quite different um

Emma says frock and I would say frock one more time frock frock

okay I'll read the whole sentence he dresses himself

in an old black frock coat usually several buttons missing now if

you remember what I was saying about trying to speak in

clipped tones then we have a good opportunity to do

to do it with words like buttons it's quite satisfying noise

buttons okay and that would be a bit different for me because I would say

buttons or I guess it is kind of similar buttons

buttons yeah okay so maybe similar with this word

what about coat coat okay I'm just wondering if there's

a bit of a difference in the vowel there um it's a sort of different shape in the

mouth I find that um well actually especially with

you guys in in Canada there's a difference between American English and

Canadian English where the u sound is much more prominent in


how do you say about a boot no no no no no

sorry so that is a Canadian stereotype we don't say a boot but we do have a

different way to say about so there's more of a

rounding there I say about which is different from my

American friends and my British friends how would you say

about about oh cow out about about yeah

whereas it's more kind of two different uh vowel sounds

a diphthong a a boat a bait about about you got that one

yes have a little practice um well Emma it's been a real

um joy to have you um here sharing your your thoughts about the um transatlantic

differences in in our um accents um and

you know Emma has a fantastic channel where there are

tons and tons of really useful videos there to help you guys with your English

so do head over there and subscribe to her channel

i hope you have got lots out of this video

entertainment if nothing else and do give the quiz a go now just to

try and remember some of the things we have said

if you're not a subscriber of mine you can do that be my guest

and get the notifications with that bell shape

and we'll see you very soon there's going to be a

video on Emma's channel where I am speaking with her about some of the

more cultural differences between North American life and

British life.