UK News

Some Key Linguistic & Cultural Differences Between the UK & the US

The Manc The Manc - 1st June 2021

The UK and the USA share many things in common but natives from either country who spend any length of time in the other are often surprised at the linguistic and cultural differences.

These peculiarities can be fascinating and controversial in equal measure – often sparking debate on social media.

The Football Debate

One commonly disputed difference is the use of the word ‘soccer’ in America to describe the British game of football. When a US citizen uses the word on social media, they are often confronted by Brits keen to correct them, or to inform them that their opinions on Manchester City’s plans for a Sergio Aguero statue are invalid because they used the word ‘soccer’. This is then followed by other Brits pointing out that the word is actually English in origin, being a 19th-century shortened version of ‘association football’.

Food Can Get Complicated

Things can get equally confusing when food is concerned. Americans are often surprised to find that fries are called chips, while chips are called crisps. They might also be surprised they can’t get mashed potatoes or mac n’ cheese as a side dish when they order a KFC or that a large Coke in the UK is the same size as a medium in the US. Oh, and what they call a ‘take out’ is known as a takeaway. The UK’s lack of standards when it comes to good coffee could come as a shock, while Brits staying in the US might lament the impossibility of buying a proper cup of tea.

PactoVisual / Pixabay

Entertainment & Travel

When it comes to entertainment, there are subtle differences too. Americans go to the movies or the ‘theater’ while Brits go to the cinema. The lack of giant portions of freshly-popped hot buttery popcorn in the UK might also be an issue for US visitors. Gamers looking for online casinos for USA players will find lists of the best options online, with details on the casinos available. While there are plenty of casino sites in both countries and the bonuses are likely to be of a similar nature, players will soon notice American roulette wheels have an extra green pocket marked ‘00’ in addition to the standard ’0’ that is found on European versions of the game. This means your odds are slightly better when playing European Roulette.


In the world of travel, UK visitors to the states might be horrified to find electrical sockets in their hotel bathroom, often located directly next to the washbasins. While US visitors to the UK might be equalled stunned to find an electrically-powered shower unit in their cubicle rather than a gas one. Americans looking to drive in the UK will have to adapt to the tiny roads and equally tiny cars, most of which have manual (or stick-shift) gearboxes. Travellers hoping to hire a car with an automatic gearbox in the UK will need to book it well in advance.

Work Culture

One of the biggest cultural differences can be found in the workplace. In the UK, paid vacations of around 26 days a year are the norm and that’s still less than some other European countries. However, many Americans have 10 days or less paid holiday a year and many employees take no vacation at all. Those who move for work are often shocked by these differences.

These are just a few of the many linguistic and cultural differences that exist between the UK and the US but there are many more that continue to fascinate visitors from either side of the pond.