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Australian vs British vs American English


When you’re learning English, it could be easy to fall under the impression that there is only one universal English. However, this isn’t the case as there are three distinct types of English: Australian, British and American!

Depending on where you are in the world, you’ll be exposed to one of these types of English and might notice that it is not the same as the type you’re familiar with.

This is because there are conversational and written differences between them. Thus, it is important to differentiate them and understand these key differences.

This is especially true when it comes to building up your vocabulary and preparing for your IELTS writing test.

5 things you must know about Australian, British and American English!

1. Pronunciation can be rather different

One of the most noticeable differences between Australian, British and American English you’ll notice right away is the pronunciation or accents.

The difference is more obvious especially in vowel sounds as well as the /r/ sounds, which are clearer in American English. British and Australian English tend to lose the /r/ sound if it is at the end of a word or syllable.

2. Each has unique slang terms and sayings

When you speak to an Australian, British and American person, you’ll hear different terms for the same thing!

Hence, it can be confusing if you aren’t familiar with the unique slang terms and sayings for the specific type of English.

For example, when someone is telling you they’re tired, they could be exhausted (American English), buggered (Australian) or knackered (British), depending on who you’re speaking to. While there is overlap in words such as “drinks” (American & British English), the Australians refer to it as “bevvies”.

Thus, it can be particularly useful to do some research or speak to locals from the respective countries to gain a better understanding of how these terms and sayings fit into everyday conversation.


3. American spelling is different than the rest

If you already find it confusing enough, the good news is that there are only two spelling systems between these different types of English!

Australian and British English share the same spelling on the most part. However, this is different vs American English.

Below are some examples of the key differences between these two spelling systems.

American English

Australian / British English







4. UK and American English are both accepted in the IELTS

Now that you’re aware of the different types of English you can learn, it is important to choose one and commit to being fluent in it, especially if you have plans to study or work in an English-speaking destination.

Speaking of which, before you even make it to your desired country, you’ll have to sit for the IELTS test, which tests your proficiency in English.

Fortunately, there is no preferred type of English for the test – that means you can select your preferred type. However, you must be consistent in the type of English you use throughout the test so choose carefully!

5. Each has different vocabulary

Vocabulary is another area where there are differences between the different types of English.

In the table below, we take a look at some common words and how they are expressed in each type of English.

American English

British English

Australian English




French fries


Hot chips







It’s important to note their spelling. Being consistent in your IELTS writing test is important, so if you opt for British versus American English, you’d want to make sure you get the spelling right!


Australian, British or American English, pick one and ace your IELTS!

While the various types of English might seem different, they are all acceptable for use in the IELTS test. However, it’s important to stay consistent, especially when writing the words down!

At IDP, we have decades of experience in helping students to prepare for their IELTS test and we can help you too.

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