American accent vs. British accent

Hello all,

Before bringing my question up, I should express my great regards to all teachers helping us here.

In your opinion how do I sound like when I pronounce a half of words with American accent and the other half with British accent?

The fact is that the resources I exploit to learn English is both AmE and BrE ones. So, I’m likely to pronounce some words like American speakers and some others like British speakers. This can also happen in my writings!!!

And just now ……. Another question occurs to me that is there any way to speak pure AmE or BrE or at least with 80 percent accuracy of one of those?

Best Regards,

Hi Nasr

The vast majority of adult learners of English as a Second Language never achieve a “pure British” or a “pure American” accent. Pronunciation usually remains influenced by the native language to one degree or another.

In my opinion, this is absolutely OK. The main focus should be on clarity of pronunciation rather than on “purity”.

You also need to keep in mind that within Britain as well as within the US there are various different accents. A Boston accent sounds very different from a Dallas accent, for example. So, I’d say some mixing of pronunciation (British vs American) probably wouldn’t a big problem. Your main focus should be on clarity.

However, I do think it’s advisable to focus on one single system of spelling.


Hi Nasr,

I think you should be more relaxed about how you pronounce your words and go for being understood and speaking as you wish. I think the idea of ‘purity’ is an illusion. The human voice is a wonderful instrument that can be played in thousands of ways and the way you play it gives a hint of who you are. Purity of accent is really not very real.


Hello Yankee and Alan,

One more question: Which one is better AmE or BrE? any advantage between them? (( of course this is my cusin’s question!!!- I myself practice AmE)))

Thanks in advance,

Hi Nasr, what do you mean by ‘better’? How about Arabic? Are there any spoken versions that are better than others and if so, who determines what is good and bad?[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, photographs: A man reading the paper[YSaerTTEW443543]

Hi m1mohammad,

Asking whether an American English or a British English accent is better is really an absurd question. No matter which language you speak, the important thing is to speak it well and clearly. Accents are really not relevant.


I affiliated with your forum a couple af days ago, but I didn’t write. Not because I am a “lurker” as Torsten says. Because I didn’t consider it necessary to ask a question when I hadn’t any. I don’t retain it needful to show yourself up if you have hardly anything to say.
Now I’m writing to say hello to everybody and not only.

“the way you play it (your voice) gives a hint of who you are” -wrote Alan.

O, Alan, it was hard to hear it. I troubled a lot with my voice and pronounciation at the beginning. The trouble was: even my teacher of English, that I loved very much (the unique teacher of my life because of that dolorous experience) couldn’t understand that I pronounced and articulated badly not due to lack of hearing, just because I wasn’t used to speak at all. Trying to pronounce single words didn’t help. And I really was not able to make myself seen if one derived from the notion “how I played with my voice”. Now I’m better, because I happened to speak with English-speakers later and saw, that there was no problem with my articulation system at all. my “r” isn’t as resounding as I’d like it to be, but there’s no way out, I am not American.
By the way. Regarding American and British way of speaking, I prefer American. It’s wonderful. British is a bit harsher. But being English, both are favolous. I love this language. I’m not that good yet, but I’m simply addicted to it and it’s too late to back away.
I thank you all for all your efforts and loyalty.

Hello all,
I apologize for telling that. I should say which accent is better.

To err is human…

Hi m1mohammad

There is no need for apology. :smiley:

I think the only way your cousin can decide which type of English pronunciation would be best for him/her to focus on is to decide where and how he/she will need to use English.

For example, if your cousin thinks he/she might want to work in the US someday, then a “standard” American pronunciation might be the best focus. Or if your cousin works in a company that is headquartered in the UK, then a “standard” British pronunciation might be better. And if your cousin dreams of spending time in Australia, then maybe he/she might want to focus on “Australian English”. :wink:

In the end, it usually doesn’t matter very much which one is chosen. As we’ve already mentioned, the most important thing is that your cousin’s pronunciation is clear and understandable.


Hi m1mohammad,

You asked:

It may be possible to acquire an American or British-sounding accent, but just like Alan and Amy, I think it’s much more important to speak clearly and to make yourself understood than to speak like a native speaker.


Thank you all for helping me.
I do appreciate it!

Comprehension is sometimes hindered by severe accents, however.

I don’t know what’s in the water down there, but I have a very hard time understanding people from the rural areas of Arkansas. They are speaking English – of that I’m sure – but the accent there is so severe that it’s nearly impossible to gain a full grasp of what they’re saying.

…not that I’m in Arkansas much, but I figured I’d interject. hehe

At any rate, my point is that it is entirely possible for a severe accent to hinder others’ understanding of that which you are saying.

Moral of the story:

If you’re in a foreign (or strange… whatever) place and you’re not sure if people will understand your speech, begin by speaking slowly. If the people react with giggles or stupid looks, they’re probably wondering why you’re talking so slowly… in which case you should resume your normal pace.


Seems like sound advice. Of course in my small island there are varieties of accent that would challenge the most erudite of Professor Higgins. In the islands off the coast of Scotland you need an interpreter and just to make life difficult in certain parts of Wales they’ll start talking to you in Welsh. Seems amazing all that happens in a land mass that barely shows up on a small scale map of the world.


I’ve heard interviews of English soccer (football) players and some of them pronounce the soft “th” as “f”. Is this a geographical phenomenon… are there certain areas in England in which everyone pronounces “th” as “f”, or is it simply that some people, all over the country, do so?


“I fink (think) we should have won.”

Perhaps they were Cockneys! Have you heard Supernanny Jo Frost (she does that, too)?


The truth of the matter is that ‘f’ in place of ‘th’ is an example of sheer laziness. Gracing it with the title of 'geographical phenomenon is unnecessarily enhancing its credibility. After all it does take some effort to articulate the ‘th’. We are entering the world of Estuary English when we hear the ‘f’ substitute. It reminds me of the title of that glorious musical written by Lionel Bart: Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’Be.


PS I’ve just switched on the TV and heard an estate agent talk about a’ free bedroom house’. Does that mean you buy two and get one free?

Various mispronunciations of ‘th’ can also be heard in a few areas of the US and are also sometimes used by AAVE speakers. I used to have an Afro-American boss who consistently pronounced ‘th’ as ‘f’ or ‘v’ in words such as ‘three’ or ‘with’. And people in certain sections of New York City are notorious for (stereotyped as) saying “tree and a turd” instead of “three and a third”, for example.

Such mispronunciations of ‘th’ sound terrible to me and they can indeed lead to misunderstanding. (Alan, did you catch the phone number of that real estate agent by any chance? I’d like to find out what else is ‘free’.) :smiley:


This is, in fact, a matter of geographic dialect and not of “laziness” as someone said it was. This kind of replacement is not unusual in variants of different languages around the world, since both “th” and “f” are anterior dental fricatives, and the only difference between them is whether the tongue or the lower lip is used to articulate them. Since it’s not easier to use the lip than the tongue, there’s no laziness involved, any more than Egyptians would be lazier than the Iraqis because their dialect of Arabic replaces the voiced “th” with “z”.

Evidently people speaking a dialect with this replacement settled in North America, and their pronunciation was picked up by slaves in various regions, which is why some African-Americans make the same replacement as people in parts of London, and consequently have the same spelling difficulties in school.

Hi Jamie,

Naturally I’ll bow to you on the matter of linguistic interpretations but to me there is more effort involved in articulating intial ‘th’ than there is in ‘f’.