A nation is an ethical, cultural, linguistic group of people defined by political boundaries. The nationality of a person is the representation of the country he or she belongs to. It is a matter of pride for everyone to belong to one country or the other. Being English or being British is something that has always been confusing to understand. They may seem the same and different at the same time.
English vs British
The difference between English and British is of Nationality. If a person is from England and speaks English, he is said to be an English person whereas if a person is of any other country of the British Isles and speaks the language of their native country, he is said to be a British person.
England is where the English culture resides. It is where English started. It is the largest and most populous state of the United Kingdom. The British Isles is a group of countries, an archipelago of 5000 islands. It is where the British nationality is given to its citizens.
England and the countries of the British Isles once formed a part of Great Britain before 1603. It was during the time of James I, that England and the other countries came into existence. As per a census conducted in 2011, around 67% of people from these countries are English, 22% are the British and the rest 11% of people are both.
Comparison Table Between English and British (in Tabular Form)
|Parameter of Comparison||English||British|
|Nations||England||England, United Kingdom, Great Britain, Scotland, Wales, etc.|
|Nationality||English as well as British.||English, British, Scottish, Irish, etc.|
|Administration||No developed government system, no parliament and legal system, only a few political institutions.||Has its own government, political institutions.|
|Language||English language.||English, Irish, Scottish, etc.|
|Accent||English accent which is sometimes referred to as a fancy accent.||Scottish, Welsh, Irish, etc depending on the nation, with a British accent. People from Ireland speak English in a British accent.|
What is English?
English is used to refer to a person who has grown up in England, in English cultures and traditions speaking English, a language from the Indo-European family of languages.
Historically speaking, English identity dates back to the medieval age, when they were known as Angelcynn. They were the descendants of two main historical groups- the Germanic tribe of south Britain and the Britons, who had already been living there. Collectively they were known as Anglo-Saxon.
Till the 10th century, the English population was not politically unified. The nation of England formed in 937 after the Battle of Brunanburh.
Since the 18th century, England was the part of the British Isles known as the United Kingdom in today’s world but in 1707, England separated itself from the British Isles after the Treaty of the Union.
When it comes to culture, it is not possible to draw a conclusive line between English and British cultures. Christian is followed by the majority of the population of England.
English is the most spoken language in England with about 220 million speakers, other than English some of the local languages are spoken.
What is British?
British is a word derived from a Greek word for inhabitants. British is used to refer to the people who are from the countries of the British Isles or are protected by the British. These are the people who have grown up in British cultures and traditions speaking British languages.
After the British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act 1914, the British is a nationality granted according to the British Nationality Law. There are various British nationalities due to the United Kingdom’s status of a colonial empire. These British nationalities are British Citizen, British Overseas Citizen, British Overseas Territory Citizen, British Nationals, British Subjects and British Protected Citizen.
Talking of British culture, it is a culture influenced by various nations. Historically it has a Christian religious life, later impacted by the cultures of Scotland, Wales, England, Ireland, etc. British people follow the church of England.
British people speak English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh in a British accent. Only the people of Ireland speak English in the British accent.
Main Differences Between English and British
- The English are the people who basically belong to England whereas the British are the people of the countries of British Isles except for Ireland.
- The nationality of the English people is English while the nationality of the British people are Scottish, English, British, etc.
- English people are always British but the British are not necessarily English.
- England does not have a proper governance system and parliament or legal system while the British have their well-defined system of governance and parliament.
- English only has some political institutions and cultural references to distinguish from the British.
- The English speak English along with some local languages while the British speak Scottish, Irish, English, etc.
- The English people have an English accent in their language whereas the British people speak their country’s respective language with a British accent, only the Irish people speak English with a British accent. The English accent is referred to as a fancy accent.
It has always been confusing to understand the difference between the English and the British but once someone gets into the history of the nation, one can easily understand the difference between the two nationalities.
These nationalities have an influential impact on one another; therefore, it is really difficult to demarcate them on some fronts.
It is important to know the difference between the two because calling British people as an English makes them agitated or calling an Irish as British, they don’t like it. Therefore, it becomes really important to understand nationalities as it is directly linked with the emotions of people.