A nation is an ethical, cultural, and linguistic group 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 British has always been confusing to understand. They may seem the same and different at the same time.
- English refers to people, language, and culture, specifically from England, one of the countries that make up the United Kingdom.
- British refers to people, language, and culture from the United Kingdom, including England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
- English and British describe people, language, and culture, but English is specific to England, while British encompasses the entire United Kingdom.
English vs British
The difference between English and British is 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 land, 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 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 British, and the rest 11% of people are both.
|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, and only a few political institutions.||It has its government and 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 with a British accent.|
What is English?
English refers 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 was formed in 937 after the Battle of Brunanburh.
Since the 18th century, England has been part of the British Isles, known as the United Kingdom, in today’s world. Still, in 1707, England separated itself from the British Isles after the Treaty of the Union.
Regarding culture, it is impossible to draw a conclusive line between English and British cultures. The majority of the population of England follows Christianity.
English is the most spoken language in England, with about 220 million speakers; other than English, some local languages are spoken.
What is British?
British is a word derived from a Greek word for inhabitants. British is used to referring to the people who are from the countries of the British Isles or are protected by the British.
These people have grown up in British cultures and traditions speaking British languages.
After the British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act of 1914, British nationality was granted according to the British Nationality Law. There are various British nationalities due to the United Kingdom’s status as a colonial empire.
These British nationalities are British Citizens, British Overseas Citizens, British Overseas Territory Citizens, British Nationals, British Subjects and British Protected Citizens.
Talking of British culture 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, and Welsh with a British accent. Only the people of Ireland talk in English with a British accent.
Main Differences Between English and British
- The English are the people who belong to England, whereas the British are the people of the countries of the British Isles, except for Ireland.
- The nationality of the English people is English, while the nationality of the British people is 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 a well-defined system of governance and parliament.
- English only has some political institutions and cultural references to distinguish it 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.
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Emma Smith holds an MA degree in English from Irvine Valley College. She has been a Journalist since 2002, writing articles on the English language, Sports, and Law. Read more about me on her bio page.