Difference Between English and British

Main Difference – English vs British 

English and British are two words that are often used when discussing the inhabitants of the United Kingdom. Some people think that they are synonyms while some feel that it is offending to use them interchangeably. Therefore, we will be looking at the difference between English and British in this article. The main difference between English and British is that English is used in relation to people or things from England while British is used in relation to people or things from the Great Britain.

First, we need to know the difference between Great Britain and England, before analyzing the differences between English and British.

Great Britain vs England

Great Britain: Great Britain is England, Wales, and Scotland considered as a unit. Some people also use  the United Kingdom as a synonym of Great Britain, but this is not strictly correct as the Great Britain is only a part of United Kingdom. Great Britain, north-eastern part of the island of Ireland and many smaller islands make up the United Kingdom.

England: England is a country that belongs to Great Britain.Difference Between English and British _ Great Britain map

What is English

The word ‘English’ is used as a noun and an adjective. As an adjective, English is used in relating to England, its people, or language.  As a noun, it can refer to the language or people.

English used as a Noun

When referring to the people of England

“Beating the English in England is not very easy.”

“She felt that the English were too haughty.”

When referring the language of England, now widely used throughout the world.

“English was not her native language.”

“There are five vowel letters in English, unlike in French.”

English used as an Adjective

“She served us coffee and English muffins.”

“The English army was one of the most powerful armies in the world.”

difference beetween english and british

The flag of England

What is British

The term, ‘British’ originating from Old English Brettisc (‘relating to the ancient Britons’) refers to the people or language of Great Britain or the United Kingdom. As a noun, (the British) it refers to the people of Great Britain. 

“The British gained total control of Sri Lanka in 1815.” – Noun

“Millicent Garrett Fawcett is a British writer and political worker who tirelessly worked for the women’s suffrage”.- Adjective

“J.K. Rowling is one of the most successful, contemporary British authors.” – Adjective

British English refers to the English language as written and spoken in the United Kingdom.

Main Difference British vs English

The Union Flag is one of the most potent symbols of Britishness

Difference Between British and English


English: As explained above, ‘English’ is used to describe people, things that are from English

British: The word ‘British’ is used in relation to Great Britain.

Keep in mind that you should call someone English if you know that they are from Englnd. If you call them English and if they are from Scotland or Wales, they might find it insulting.


Image courtesy:

“Great Britain template”. (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons    

“Flag of England”. (Public Domain) via Wikipedia     

“Flag of the United Kingdom”. ( Public Domain) via Wikipedia                                             

About the Author: admin