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British vs. English: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 24, 2023
British refers to anything related to the United Kingdom, while English specifically pertains to England and its culture.

Key Differences

British is a term that encompasses all things related to the United Kingdom (UK), which includes countries like England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. It refers to the wider cultural, historical, and geographical aspects of the UK as a whole. Someone from Scotland, for example, is British but not English. English, on the other hand, pertains specifically to England, one of the countries within the UK. It denotes the culture, history, and traditions unique to England.
While both terms denote nationality and identity, English is narrower in scope than British. For instance, the English language is spoken by many British people, but not all British accents are English accents.
Furthermore, while British history encompasses events across the UK, English history specifically looks at events that occurred in England.

Comparison Chart


Pertains to the entire UK
Specific to England


England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland
Only England


UK nationality
English ethnicity


Many languages spoken, including English
English is the primary language


British Pound (currency for UK)
English Breakfast (specific type of meal)

British and English Definitions


British is a broader term than English.
Cricket is a popular British sport.


English denotes the people native to England.
The English are known for their dry sense of humor.


British relates to the United Kingdom.
The British monarchy has a long history.


English relates to England's unique culture and traditions.
Morris dancing is a traditional English folk dance.


British encompasses people from all countries in the UK.
Scots and Welsh are both considered British.


English pertains specifically to England.
The English countryside is picturesque.


British denotes wider cultural aspects of the UK.
British television includes shows from all over the UK.


English refers to the language spoken primarily in England.
Shakespeare wrote in Early Modern English.


British covers the entire geographical area of the UK.
The British Isles include multiple countries.


English highlights history and events within England.
The English Civil War was a major event in the 17th century.


Of or relating to Great Britain or its people, language, or culture.


Of, relating to, or characteristic of England or its people or culture.


What does "British" refer to?

"British" pertains to anything related to Great Britain or the United Kingdom.

Who are the British people?

British people are citizens of the United Kingdom, British Overseas Territories, and Crown dependencies.

What languages do British people speak?

Primarily English, but also Welsh, Scots Gaelic, Cornish, and others.

What are the "British Isles"?

The "British Isles" is a geographical term that includes Great Britain, Ireland (both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland), and over 6,000 smaller islands.

Is "British" synonymous with "English"?

No. "English" refers specifically to England, while "British" can refer to Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland as well.

What is the British Commonwealth?

Now known as the Commonwealth of Nations, it's a political association of 54 member states, most of which are former territories of the British Empire.

What is "British culture"?

It encompasses the customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements of the UK.

What are "English roses"?

It's a term often used to describe a naturally beautiful English woman, and also refers to certain types of roses bred by David Austin.

Is "British accent" a correct term?

It's an oversimplification. There are many regional accents in the UK.

Is the English language hard to learn?

While many find its basics easy, its irregularities can pose challenges.

What's the British currency?

As of my last update, the British pound sterling (£).

What does "English" refer to?

"English" pertains to anything related to England or its people, language, or culture.

Is "English" just a language?

While "English" is a language, the term can also describe nationality, culture, or origin.

How many people speak English worldwide?

Over 1 billion people speak English, either as a native or additional language.

What is the "English Channel"?

It's the body of water separating England from northern France.

What is the "English Premier League"?

A top-tier professional football (soccer) league in England.

What's the difference between Old, Middle, and Modern English?

They are three chronological stages of the English language, with Old English from c. 450-1150, Middle English from c. 1150-1500, and Modern English from c. 1500 onwards.

Is "English breakfast" a type of meal or tea?

It can be both: a hearty morning meal and a type of robust black tea blend.

Is British English different from American English?

Yes, there are differences in spelling, pronunciation, and vocabulary.

Who are the English people?

English people are natives or inhabitants of England.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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