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A Few Differences between Canadian and American English Language and Influences
Written by Marla Simpson   

Canadian English and American English are very similar.  Americans, like me, who live in a border state, usually can’t hear much difference in the way we speak and the way Canadians speak.  However, on a recent trip to Canada, I noticed a few differences.


Depending on the speaker, there is a small difference between the way we say words with the “ow” sound, such as the sound used in the words “about” and “town”.  When Americans say the word “about”, the vowel sounds like two vowels sounds combined quickly (“a” and “oo”).  When Canadians say it, it sounds like the vowel in the word “boot”.

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Different Spelling for Some Words

For some words, Canadian English uses the British spelling instead of the American spelling.  Here are some examples:

American: color, neighbor, check, center

Canadian: colour, neighbour, cheque, centre


Different Words

Here are a few very practical words that are different in the two countries:

American: “restroom” or “bathroom” (the place with a toilet)

Canadian: “washroom”


American: “a dollar” or “ a one” ($1)

Canadian: “a loonie”


Different Measurement Systems

In Canada, people use the metric system.  In America, we use American measurements.  Americans use Fahrenheit for temperature, pounds for weight, and miles, feet or inches for distance.

Favorite Sports

Ice hockey is the country’s most popular sport in Canada.  In the United States, ice hockey ranks 4th.  American football, baseball and basketball are more popular than ice hockey in the U.S.A.

Different Cultural Influences

Both Canada and the United States have people with many different ethnic backgrounds.  Because Canada is a bilingual country with speakers of both English and French, both languages appear on the signs and product packaging.  Although Canada has a larger percentage of Caucasians than the United States does, both countries have citizens with non-European backgrounds, especially in the cities.  Vancouver B.C., for example, is an ethnically diverse city with many non-Caucasians.  However, the ethnic origins of people living in each country are different.  In the United States, there are a lot of Hispanic or Latino people (with decedents from Central and South America) and Black or African Americans (with descendants from Africa).  In Canada, the biggest non-European populations are from various parts of Asia.  There aren’t many Hispanic or Black people in Canada.

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