30 Words That Americans and Brits Stress Differently


Have you noticed that Americans and Brits
pronounce words quite differently? You might hear that vowel sounds are completely
different. After all, vowel sounds do vary quite a lot
between regional dialects. And you might notice different consonants,
especially when we’re talking about the American “r” versus the British pronunciation of “r,”
or the American flap “t” versus the British clear pronunciation of the “t” sound. But as far as I’m concerned, the most noticeable
differences between the two accents have to do with the way the words are stressed, and that’s
what we’re going to focus on in today’s video. We’ll talk about 30 words that are stressed
differently in American and British English. Welcome back to the English with Kim YouTube
channel, where you’ll learn what to say, how to say it, and why it matters. If you’re as obsessed with word and sentence
stress as I am, be sure to hit subscribe. Like I said a moment ago, the most noticeable
difference between the American and British pronunciations of words has to do with the
placement of the primary stressed syllable in certain words. When we stress a word, we make one syllable
longer, louder and higher in pitch. This also makes the vowel sound in this word
extremely clear and easy to hear. If you stress the wrong syllable, the word
will sound off and be a little hard to understand, even if you pronounce the rest of the word
correctly. I talk all about this in my videos on reasons
why native speakers may not understand you, as well as in my video on three reasons you’re
mispronouncing words in English. I’ve included links to these videos in the
description. This means if you’re stressing a word the
British way, it may confuse an American who’s not that familiar with British English. Believe me, I understand how frustrating it
can be to have to choose an accent when you’re trying to learn a language, but you want to
make sure you focus on the pronunciation and the stress that is most related to your life. I’ll share both the American stress pattern
and the British one, but I can’t promise that my pronunciation of British words will sound
the way a native speaker would say it. After all, I haven’t studied the British accent. I just teach the American one. The other thing I want to point out about
the words we’re going to discuss today is that many of them have roots in French. They’re what we call “loanwords” from French. The British version of these words is pronounced
the way it would be according to English spelling. The American version is a pronunciation that
sounds more French, even though it is still Anglicised, or converted into English pronunciation. I know my French friends will probably be
cringing at the way we pronounce these words, but that’s how it is. So let’s get started. The first word we’re going to look at today
is the word “address.” In British English, the word would be pronounced
address, with stress on the second syllable: address, address. In American English, the word will be pronounced
address, address, with stress on the first syllable. I have to point out that you will hear Americans
as well as Brits use both pronunciations of this word, but it’s more common in British
English to say address, and it’s more common in American English to say address. In the US, the stress on the word will change
depending on whether it’s a noun or a verb. If we’re talking about someone’s address,
we’re going to stress the first syllable. If we are going to address an envelope, we’re
going to stress the second syllable. However, it is more common that you’ll hear
people say “address.” Next, let’s talk about the word “adult.” In British English, this word is pronounced
adult. In American English. This word is generally pronounced adult, adult. However, like the previous example, you will
hear people use both pronunciations of that word. I tend to use adult more than adult. The reason I mix the pronunciations of “adult”
and “adult” may have to do with the fact that I’m from the New England area, the Boston
area, and we have closer ties to the Brits. Maybe. That’s just a possible explanation. So once again, the American version of this
word is adult, adult. Next, let’s look at a word that is so different
in American English and British English. I’m talking about the word “advertisement.” In British English, this word would be pronounced
advertisement, advertisement. In American English, we pronounce it advertisement,
advertisement. As you can hear, the stress in the American
version is on the first syllable. In the British version, the stress is on the
second syllable, and it really changes the way the word sounds. Advertisement, advertisement, advertisement,
advertisement. I hope you clearly hear the difference. Like I said at the beginning, when we change
the pronunciation of a word, it can really change the way the vowel sound is understood. That’s why it really brings out those differences
between the pronunciation of vowels in British and American English. Next, let’s look at a word that we’ve taken
from French: ballet. In British English, the word would be pronounced
ballet, ballet, with stress on the first syllable, and the vowel sound would be way more British,
maybe “ballet.” Like I said, I’m not British, so I’m not entirely
sure. Americans would pronounce the word ballet,
ballet. Like I said earlier, we’re making the words
sound a little more French by stressing it on the second syllable: ballet, ballet. Obviously it’s still an American version of
a French word, but it’s pronounced a little closer to the French than the British version. Here’s another example: brochure. In British English, this word would be pronounced
brochure, brochure. In American English, the word would be pronounced
brochure, brochure. As you can hear, once again the stress is
on the second syllable: brochure brochure. Here’s another French inspired word: buffet,
buffet. In British English, the word would be pronounced
buffet, buffet, with stress on the first syllable. In American English, the word would be pronounced
on the second syllable: buffet, buffet, buffet. Can you hear the difference between the stress
patterns on these words? Next, let’s look at the word “caffeine,” everybody’s
favorite, if you like drinking tea or coffee: caffeine. In British English, the word would be stressed
on the first syllable: caffeine, caffeine. In American English, the word is stressed
on the second syllable: caffeine, caffeine. You can clearly hear the difference between
the two pronunciations. That’s a word that really confuses me when
I hear it pronounced in the British English version. I’m so used to hearing people talk about needing
caffeine. Similarly, let’s talk about the word “cafe.” In British English, the word is stressed
on the first syllable: cafe, cafe. In American English, the word is stressed
on the second syllable: cafe, cafe. You can remember the American English version
because we usually include a little accent mark on the “e”: cafe, cafe. Pay attention to this stress pattern on words
coming from French. This will help you remember to stress these
words correctly when you’re speaking American English. Next, let’s look at the word “chauffeur.” In British English, the word is said chauffeur,
chauffeur. In American English, the word is pronounced
chauffeur, chauffeur. As you can see, we’re shifting the stress
to the end of the word: chauffeur, chauffeur. Big difference, right? Let’s move on to cliche, cliche. Obviously another word that we’ve taken from
French. The British pronounce it cliche, cliche. Americans pronounce it cliche, cliche. Once again, you can use the little accent
mark at the end of the word in order to remind you where the stress should be. Next, let’s talk about a word that I find really
confusing with the British English pronunciation: debris. In British English, this word would be pronounced
debris, debris. When I first heard this word, I didn’t really
understand what it meant in British English, because we pronounce it debris, debris. As you can hear, it’s completely different, because
we use the schwa in the American version, and the British pronounce the “de” really clearly. Once again, the American version is debris. We’re stressing the word on the second syllable. Now we can look at the word debut, debut. In British English, the word would be stressed
on the first syllable: debut, debut. In American English, the stress would be on
the second syllable: debut, debut. Once again, this is another loanword from
French and you can hear Americans are stressing that second syllable. Listening for this stress pattern will help
you recognize words that appear to have similar roots. Moving on, let’s talk about decor, decor. In British English, the word would be pronounced
decor, decor. In American English, the word is pronounced
decor, decor, decor. You’ll sometimes hear some Americans who know
that it comes from French, say decor, but they’ll still stress that second syllable. However, I usually reduce it to a schwa sound:
decor. Moving on, let’s look at the word detail,
or detail. In British English, they tend to pronounce
it detail, detail. In American English, we tend to pronounce
it detail, detail. However, like other words in these examples,
you will hear both pronunciations. I tend to use detail, and that may have to
do, like I said, with the fact that I’m from New England, and we have closer ties to our
British friends. Next, let’s look at the word “donate.” In British English, the word would be pronounced
donate, donate. In American English, we pronounce the word
donate, donate. In this case, the stress is on the first syllable:
donate. Next, let’s talk about the word fiance, or
fiance. In British English, they tend to stress the
second syllable and pronounce it with a much better French accent: fiance, fiance. I can’t really say it correctly. In American English, we tend to stress the
last syllable: fiance, fiance. I have to say I tend to pronounce it with
stress on the second syllable: fiance, fiance. Once again, that may have to do with my New
England background. You will find that there are different regional
pronunciations of words. I talk more about this in my video: 10 words
I have trouble pronouncing in English. Be sure to check out that video in the cards,
and also in the description below the video. Up next is a word that is very hard for me
to pronounce in British English because it’s very different than the American version. It’s the word “garage.” The British stress this word on the first
syllable, and they tend to really emphasize the difference in sound. They say garage, garage. In American English, we say garage, garage. And if you hear an actual Brit pronounce the
word, you’ll probably notice a difference between how Americans pronounce the “r” and
how British pronounce the “r.” They say garage, and we say garage. That one’s really hard for me to understand
when I hear a Brit say it. Moving on, let’s talk about some food: gourmet. In British English, the word will be stressed
on the first syllable: gourmet. In American English, the word will be stressed
on the second syllable: gourmet, gourmet. Once again, this is a loanword from French,
and you can hear that Americans are stressing that second syllable, the end of the word:
gourmet. When I learned this next difference, it was
really surprising to me, because it’s one of my favorite things to eat in the summer:
ice cream. In British English, they stress the word “cream”:
ice cream, ice cream. In American English, we stress the first syllable:
ice cream, ice cream. This is really interesting to me because this
is such a predictable stress pattern in English, stressing that first syllable: ice cream,
ice cream. Next, let’s talk about the word “magazine.” In British English, the word would be stressed
on the last syllable: magazine, magazine. In American English, the word will be stressed
on the first syllable: magazine, magazine. However, because of the influence from British
English, you will also hear people stress it on the last syllable. I think we tend to shift the stress based
on the way the word is used in the sentence, and the words that appear around it. But if you listen carefully, you’ll probably
hear Americans use both pronunciations, but in American English it’s generally pronounced magazine,
magazine, with stress on that first syllable. Next up: matinee, matinee. In this word, you’re going to hear a big difference
between the British and American pronunciation, because I tend to change that “t” into a glottal
“t”: matinee, matinee. In British English, it would be matinee, matinee,
and they would pronounce that “t” sound much better than I do as an American. In American English, the word will be matinee,
matinee, or matinee, if you’re in California, or a region where you pronounce the “t” more
clearly: matinee, matinee. But I would say matinee, matinee. You can definitely hear my regional accent
in that word. Next, let’s talk about the word “migrate”:
migrate. In British English, the word would be stressed
on the second syllable: migrate, migrate. In American English, the word is stressed
on the first syllable: migrate, migrate. It’s so interesting how there are some words
that are stressed on the first syllable, and then they switch to the second syllable, and
other words are stressed on the second syllable, and they switch to the first syllable. I’m not really sure why, but it’s quite interesting
to consider. Next we have the word montage, montage. In British English, this word tends to be
pronounced on the first syllable: montage, montage. In American English, we tend to pronounce
it on the second syllable: montage, montage. Once again, this has to do with whether we’re
using the noun version or the verb version of the word. If it’s being used as a noun, a lot of Americans
would say montage, montage, but we would use the verb version, montage. Language is fun, isn’t it? Next, we have a word that Americans definitely
try to pronounce the French way: nonchalant, nonchalant. In British English, it would be stressed on
the first syllable: nonchalant, nonchalant. In American English, we would pronounce it
on the last syllable: nonchalant, nonchalant. You can probably hear that this gives us a
little bit of an affectation. We’re trying to sound a little more French. And it really makes me wonder if it has to
do with the French support of Americans way back when, in the history of our nation. Hmm, who knows? Another word we’re going to look at: premature,
premature. In British English, the word would be stressed
on the first syllable: premature, premature. In American English, the word would be stressed
on the second syllable: premature, premature. Here’s another word that sounds really funny
to me when I hear it pronounced the British way, and of course given the news recently,
we hear it pronounced the British way quite a lot. It’s the word princess, princess. The British pronounce the word princess, princess. I first heard this in a movie called “Ever
After,” and I was really surprised because that’s not the way I grew up hearing the word. In American English, the word would be pronounced
princess, princess, princess. In British English, princess. Hmm. Isn’t that interesting? Next we have the word “rotate.” This one really surprised me when I heard
there’s a British version. The British would stress the second syllable:
rotate, rotate. Americans stress the first syllable: rotate,
rotate. Next, we have another obviously French word:
sachet, sachet. The British would pronounce the word sachet,
sachet. Americans pronounce it sachet, sachet, with
stress on the second syllable: sachet. Another common word that we use is salon,
salon. The British will pronounce it on the first
syllable: salon, salon. They probably have a different vowel sound,
like I said, not British. The Americans would pronounce it on the second
syllable: salon, salon. You can hear that the word sounds a little more
foreign when we stress it on the second syllable: salon. Here’s another one: vaccine, vaccine. The British stress the first syllable: vaccine,
vaccine. Americans say vaccine, vaccine. Can you hear the difference? And for our last word today, it’s a word that
really confuses me: weekend. The British pronounce it weekend, weekend,
which probably has to do with the roots of the word. Americans pronounce it weekend, weekend, with
stress on the first syllable. How do you feel after learning these 30 words
that are stressed differently in British and American English? Even if you’re feeling a little bit overwhelmed
right now, I want to reassure you. For the most part, the word stress patterns
that we follow in English are the same between British and American English. This helps simplify things if you are focusing
on your stress, which you should. I really encourage you to focus on your stress,
because even if you have other characteristics of a non-native accent, stressing words correctly
will make it so much easier for a native English speaker to understand you, even if you’re
speaking American English to a Brit, or British English to an American. Of course, these words that are stressed differently
between British and American English may cause a little bit of confusion, but these probably
aren’t the words that you’re using most commonly in everyday speech. Be sure to focus your attention on stress
when you’re learning how to pronounce a word. It will really, really, really help people
understand you. Now that you’ve learned the words that are
stressed differently between British and American English, I want to know if you’ve heard of
any other examples. Leave a comment and share below. Which words did you find surprising and which
words do you find really challenging to stress correctly? They don’t have to be the ones in this video,
I’m happy to help you find the stress in American English. Of course, I do have many more resources on
this topic, so be sure to take a look at the links in the description below the video. Or just click on my playlist for word and
sentence stress in American English. Once again, I’m Kim from englishwithkim.com. I’m your guide to the essential conversation
skills you need to sound more natural in English. If you like this video, please give it a thumbs
up and share it with a friend. Be sure to hit subscribe if you haven’t already. Have a good one. Goodbye.

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