English, the Aussie way

NOTE: You might think the writing is simple. This article was written for both native English-speakers and for ESL students.

aus eng

Do you want to learn English? The Australian way?

If you are studying English at intermediate level, I think you can try learning this.

There are many kinds of English dialects. People from places like England, Scotland, USA, Canada and Africa have different ways of speaking English. This article is about Australian English. But mainly, Australian slang.

I lived in Australia for 20 years. When I first came to Melbourne from Hawaii, I was surprised (a little bit) by how Australians spell and pronounce words. I also had an American accent, but the other kids wanted me to speak with an Australian accent. Now I still speak with an American accent but I do not write the same way Americans write anymore.

If you are staying in Australia, here is some examples of how Australians talk and write. This is not a full list.

First of all, Americans like to call Australia “Down Under”. Australians do not call their country “Down Under”.


You can buy a buy a book about Australian slang and it will have lots of words. However, most of those words are not used a lot. Maybe not in Melbourne. Maybe, people in other parts of Australia say different slang. Anyways, here are some common slang.

G’day Good day (the Australian way of saying “Hello”, you’ll this see on postcards)
mate friend (also used in UK and New Zealand)
How’s it goin’? How are you?
to have a go at something to try something
fair go chance
to have a go at someone to pick a fight with someone
dunny toilet
arvo afternoon
that is “full on” that is too much
fair dinkum real
to shout someone to pay for someone

Slangs for food

Here are some Australian slang for food.

veggies vegetables
brekky breakfast
sanga sandwich
bangers sausages
mash mash potato
icy pole popsicle
Maccas McDonald’s (restaurant)

Slangs for names

A person’s name can also become a slang. Mainly names of men. Here are some examples.

John Johnno
Steve Stevo
David Davo
Dean Deano
Matt Matto
Jeremy Jezza
Daniel Danno

Australian spelling

There are two standard writing systems in English: British and American. The spelling, grammar and pronunciation of Australian English is more similar to British English than American English. Here are some words with British spelling that Australians use.

British/Australian American
colour color
favourite favorite
mum mom
cancelled canceled
learnt learned
spelt spelled
cheque check
yoghurt yogurt
practise (v) practice (v)
centre (place) center (place)
organise organize
organisation organization

Australian pronunciation

Australians pronounce their words like the British and not like the Americans. Here are examples.

Australian Phonemes American Phonemes
tomato to-mah-to /təmɑ:təʊ/ to-may-to /təmeɪtəʊ/
aunt ahhnt /ɑ:nt/ ant, like the insect /ænt/
strawberry shtro-bri /ʃtrɒbri:/ shtro-beh-ri /ʃtrɒberi:/
cemetery sem-met-tree /semeʧri:/ sem-met-teh-ree /semeteri:/
ass/arse ahhs /ɑ:s/ as /æs/
aluminium ah-lim-min-yim /æləmɪnjəm/ ah-loom-min-noom /ʌlʊmɪnʊm/
Z zed zee

I hope I did my best in teaching pronunciation in a blog. I also hope you can read the phonemes.

Australian vocabulary

Australians use words use that British use that Americans don’t use, words that Americans use that the British don’t use and words only use by Australians and not by either British or Americans.

Here are some British words that Australians use and Americans don’t use.

British/Australian American
biscuit cookie
garbage bin garbage can
chips fries
takeaway takeout
torch flashlight
holiday vacation
university college
primary school elementary school
tap faucet
4-wheel drive (4WD) SUV
postman mailman
lift elevator
petrol gasoline
tomato sauce ketchup

Here are some American words that Australians use and the British don’t use.

American/Australian British
eggplant aubergine
truck lorry
pants trousers
capsicum bell pepper
soccer football
potato chips crisps
GPS SatNav
balls bollocks
freeway, highway motorway
driver’s licence driving license
idiot twat

And here are some words Australians use that neither the British nor Americans use

British American Australian
sweets candy lolly
pavement sidewalk footpath
pickup truck pickup truck ute
candy floss cotton candy fairy floss
oven crunchies tater tots potato gems
fizzy drink/pop soda soft drink
trainers sneakers runners
flip flops flip flops thongs

If Australians say some of these words to you, you now know what they mean. Try using some of these words when you meet the local Australian people.


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