A vintage Chevrolet Corvette. Photo: Getty Images

 A vintage Chevrolet Corvette. Photo: Getty Images

 British and American English car vocabulary

In The Canterville Ghost (1887), Oscar Wilde wrote: “We have really everything in common with America nowadays except, of course, language.” Differences between British and American English are often exaggerated like this. In fact, most British people understand American English, and most Americans (perhaps slightly fewer) understand British English. However, some topics seem to have more differences than others. The word field “cars and roads” is a good example. Here is a list of American and British English terms relating to cars and roads. After you’ve read the post, there’s an exercise so you can practise your American English

British English                                 American English                     German

articulated lorry                               semi truck                                 Sattelschlepper

bonnet                                              hood                                         Motorhaube

boot                                                  trunk                                         Kofferraum

breakdown van                                tow truck                                  Abschleppwagen

car                                                    car, auto, automobile                Auto

car park                                            parking lot                                Parkplatz

driving licence                                 driver’s license                          Führerschein

flyover                                             overpass                                    Überführung

gear lever/stick                                 gear shift                                   Schalthebel

indicator                                           blinker, turn signal                    Blinklicht

motorway                                         freeway, expressway                Autobahn

number plate                                    license plate                              Nummernschild

pavement                                         sidewalk                                   Gehweg

pedestrian crossing                          crosswalk                                  Fußgängerüberweg

petrol                                                gas                                            Benzin

to put your foot down                     to step on the gas                      Gas geben

roundabout                                      traffic circle                              Kreisverkehr

tyre                                                   tire                                            Reifen

windscreen                                       windshield                                Windschutzscheibe

 

Replace the British English words with American English.

 

1. The __________ (windscreen) is so dirty you can hardly see out of it.

2. There isn't enough room in the _________ (boot) for all these bags.

3. The café had put some tables outside on the _________ (pavement) for the smokers.

4. This supermarket has a bigger __________ (car park) than the one in town.

5. There might be something wrong with the engine, so I'll open the __________ (bonnet) and have a look.

6. I can’t fix this, so we’ll have to call a __________ (breakdown van).

7. I nearly caused an accident because I forgot to use the __________ (indicator) when I turned right.

8. Some people pay extra for personalised __________ (number plates).

9. If you apply for this job, you must have a __________ (driving licence).

10. We should be there in an hour if we take the _________ (motorway).

11. Although it was Saturday, there were a lot of __________ (articulated lorries) on the road.

12. Children should always use a __________ (pedestrian crossing) when they cross a busy road.

13. We need to stop at the next __________ (petrol) station.

14. If I __________ (put my foot down) we should get to the airport on time.

15. Turn left, then left again at the__________ (roundabout).

16. The car needs some new __________ (tyres) before we go on holiday.

17. European drivers can find it hard to get used to having the __________ (gear lever) on the other side in a British car.

18. I'm going to be home late: there's a traffic jam on the __________ (flyover) again.

 

Answers

1. The windshield is so dirty you can hardly see out of it.

2. There isn't enough room in the trunk for all these bags.

3. The café had put some tables outside on the sidewalk for the smokers.

4. This supermarket has a bigger parking lot than the one in town.

5. There might be something wrong with the engine, so I'll open the hood and have a look.

6. I can’t fix this, so we’ll have to call a tow truck.

7. I nearly caused an accident because I forgot to use the turn signal/blinker when I turned right.

8. Some people pay extra for personalised license plates.

9. If you apply for this job, you must have a driver's license.

10. We should be there in an hour if we take the freeway/expressway.

11. Although it was Saturday, there were a lot of semi trucks on the road.

12. Children should always use a crosswalk when they cross a busy road.

13. We need to stop at the next gas station.

14. If I step on the gas we should get to the airport on time.

15. Turn left, and then left again at the traffic circle.

16. The car needs some new tires before we go on holiday.

17. European drivers can find it hard to get used to having the gear shift on the other side in a British car.

18. I’m going to be home late: there’s a traffic jam on the overpass again.