11 English accents to know and recognize

No matter your level of English, there will always be new things to discover: new slang, the strange accent of an isolated village, a specific intonation of a certain group, etc. Today, let’s dive into the fascinating world of accents! Listen and learn to recognize the different English accents around the world, thanks to our world tour of accents.

For this great trip, we will visit the different English-speaking regions of the world, note some important particularities to know what differentiates each accent and even watch some videos showing each of them. All this without even leaving your chair!

Before diving into this introduction to accents, I would like to warn you that we are going to make a lot of generalizations . It’s a necessary evil since in fact no two people speak exactly the same way. We are therefore going to present to you the essential characteristics of each accent so that you can distinguish them and perhaps even acquire them!

British accents

Let’s start our world tour of English accents with the cradle of the language: the British Isles !

It is indeed a plural: there is indeed much more than just one British accent! The UK is teeming with different dialects and accents : it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that every city has its own variant, uses different words and ‘sounds’ different!

Here is a brief tour of British accents:

A tour of the British Isles in accents.

All English and British accents

An important characteristic that we will use during our tour to differentiate the accents is their rhoticity . Don’t panic, it doesn’t hurt and it’s even very simple! An accent is said to be rhotic, when the R’s are pronounced at the end of words and before voiced consonants; and if an accent is non-rhotic, it is because they are not pronounced. Elementary my dear Watson !

Most British accents are non-rhotic , so these R’s are not pronounced.

Despite the huge number of different British accents, the term British English is often used to refer to a specific British accent: the RP !


Received Pronunciation

Received Pronunciation or simply RP is the standardized form of British English; it ‘s the typical British accent ! This is the form usually taught in school and on the Internet. However, few people use it on a daily basis !

You can hear it on the BBC and a few other UK channels . Once upon a time all BBC news had to be in PR, but that’s not the case anymore and you can hear many other accents. This is why we sometimes use the expression BBC English to talk about RP .

This variant of English is spoken by only 2% of the population in the UK, it does not include slang and it has clear and precise vowels.

Here is a video of two people explaining other features of the RP:

BBC English Accent | tutorial

Received Pronunciation



At first the term Cockney was derogatory, but today it is used to refer to the working class of London and those who come from the east of the city, the East-End . It is a much more common everyday accent than RP .

Listen instead:

Cockney eg from Lock Stock

The Cockney Accent

Now let’s talk about its special features! First of all, it’s a non-rhotic accent , which isn’t surprising considering it’s still a British accent! Another characteristic of this accent is that speakers do not pronounce the TH as an interdental consonant, but substitute the sounds /θ/ and /ð/ respectively with /f/ and /v/ .

Here are some examples :

  • father becomes father /ˈfɑ:  /
  • think /θɪŋk/ becomes think fɪŋk /
  • something /ˈsəmˌθɪŋ/ becomes /ˈsəmˌ f ɪŋ/

An interesting grammatical peculiarity is the use of the double negative: as you know, in English you don’t need more than one negative word in a sentence, but in Cockney you can have an accumulation of negative words like not , never , no one , etc.

For example, you might hear someone say: I didn’t see nuffing! .

Here is a video showing the different accents that can be found in London:

London Accents: PR | Cockney | Multicultural London Français

London Accents


The Welsh Accent (Welsh)

The Welsh accent, or Welsh accent in English, is characterized by long vowels, pitch shifts and rolled Rs!

One of the interesting features of the Welsh accent is their use of repeat questions or question tags . You will often hear phrases like Angry, I am. or Coming on Friday, we are. Putting the subject and the verb at the end of the sentence in this way makes it possible to insist on a fact.

Listen to this Welsh girl share typical slang phrases and expressions from this region:

Things Welsh People Say | Common Welsh Sayings

Welsh accents


The Scottish accent (Scottish)

The Scottish accent, Scottish accent in English, is once again characterized by rolled Rs but also by some interesting vowel variations:

The vowel in words

  • bath
  • laugh and
  • dancing

is pronounced /ɑ/ in RP , but it is /æ/ in Scottish English (similar to American English). So we will have:

  • /bæθ/
  • /laef/ and
  • /daens/

in Scottish English!

Here is a very funny little video that the Scots themselves love:

Limmy’s Show – What’s heavier?

Scottish accent

Although the video is not made specifically to show or study the Scottish accent, it is natural content that will help you distinguish this variant of English better!

Some Scots have such a strong accent that even Siri can’t understand them:

Siri can’t understand Scottish folk.

Another peculiarity of this dialect is the distinct vocabulary that is used in Scotland.

Here are some common words:

  • wee = small
  • bairn = child
  • bonny = beautiful, beautiful

You will hear these words in almost every sentence as they have become language tics: I’ll have a wee cup of tea, please!


The Irish Accent

There are many variations of the Irish accent (for example, the one spoken in Ireland and the one in the UK), but we will focus on the Dublin accent .

A key feature of this accent is the variation of the diphthong /aɪ/ which is often pronounced /ɑɪ/ , more on the back of the mouth .

Some examples :

  • Ireland /’ɑɪɝlənd/
  • bright /’brɑɪt/
  • try /’trɑɪ/
Guide to Irish Accents

Like the Cockney accent , the Irish accent dislikes the sound of the TH, and Irish people tend to say /t/ and /d/ instead of /θ/ and /ð/ , especially in an informal register. Unlike other British accents, this one is rhotic (the R at the end of the syllable is pronounced).

In this video, you can hear a Scotswoman (left) and an Irishwoman (right) discussing, each with their own accent:

Scottish Vs Irish Accent Differences (Ft Diane Jennings!)

Differences Between Scottish Accent and Irish Accent

So, we’ve rounded up the most common British accents. Now let’s continue our world tour of English accents, direction: North America!


American accents

We are dealing here with a vast subject: American accents. As you already know, there is not a single American accent. It is practically impossible to mention them all, so we have chosen to present the most common American accents.


General American

The standard American accent is called the General American (literally, “general” American). In other words, it is the American equivalent of the famous RP . This is the accent most commonly heard in movies, music , and the majority of talk shows .

First, let’s clarify that this accent is rhotic , but the major differences between Standard American and RP don’t end there. Here are some of the most important vowel variations:

When the RP uses the vowel /ɑ/ , Americans pronounce /æ/ . Compare instead:

  • dance /d ɑ ns/ and dance /d æ :ns/

Another vowel variation: the /ɔ/ sound in RP (rounded, back of the mouth) becomes a relaxed /ɑ/ in General American (unrounded, a bit more open). Compare:

  • thought /θ ɔ :t/ and thought /θ ɑ :t/
  • all ɔ :l/ and all ɑ :l/
  • autumn ɔ :təm/ and autumn ɑ :təm/

Listen to the points just discussed and learn more tips to improve your American accent:

8 Ways to Speak English with an American Accent

How to speak English with an American accent?


New York

Let’s start our tour of regional American accents with the New York accent, or New York accent . Like RP , New Yorkers do not pronounce the Rs at the end of words, i.e. it is still a non-rhotic accent , unlike most American accents.

There is a very typical New York accent diphthong: /ʊə/ . The New York accent tends to substitute it for the /ɔ/ sound of the RP.


  • talk /tɑk/ becomes /tʊək/
  • all /’ɑl/ becomes /ʊəl/
  • off /’əf/ becomes /ʊəf/
  • coffee /’kəfi/ becomes /kʊəfi/ (a classic example of this accent!)

Here are some New Yorkers and what they think of their accent:

New York Accents, A Movie

New York accent


Southern accent

There are lots of different accents in the southern United States, but we’ll focus on the general southern accent . It is characterized by open, relaxed and prolonged vowels . Like New York accents and RP, most Southern accents are non-rhotic .

An important linguistic variation is the replacement of the diphthong /aɪ/ by /æ/ or /æɪ/ .


  • hi /haɪ/ becomes /hæ/
  • why /waɪ/ becomes /wæ/
  • dinner /’daɪnɝ/ becomes /’dænə/

Here is a Southerner who teaches us some slang and some typical phrases from this region:

How to Speak Southern

The South American Accent


The Canadian Accent

Here, we are going to talk about the Canadian accent in English , not the Quebecois, huh! This accent is quite similar to General American . Even Americans don’t always know how to tell it apart! You will often hear Americans say that the only difference between them and Canadians is that their neighbors say things like aboot instead of about . This is very exaggerated, but there is still something true in these statements.

Many Canadians pronounce the word about differently: they use what is called a Raising Intonation .
What is it exactly ? When you have the diphthong /oʊ/ followed by an unvoiced consonant, Canadians tend to raise their voices.

Here is more information about this phenomenon:

Oot And Aboot: Canadian Raising | Natural Canadian Accent

Intonation in Canadian English

Another special feature of this accent is the tendency to use the word Eh? at the end of sentences. It’s simply a repeat question, an equivalent of the sentences “isn’t it? ” or not ? ” in Hindi.

Here is another video of a Canadian who introduces us to the different types of Canadian accents (including Quebecois!):

All about Canadian accents

The different Canadian accents


Australian accent

Due to Australia’s colonial history, the Australian variant of English, or Australian English , developed from the Cockney accent , so there are many similarities between the two.

This accent is non-rhotic, so we do not pronounce the R at the end of the words, but also the G of the -ing endings. Australian is the most diphthong-rich variant of English, with a total of 20 vowels !

Another amazing difference is that Australians tend to turn up their intonation even if phase is not an issue.

The diphthong /eɪ/ of most English accents becomes /aɪ/ in Australia. A classic example: the word mate , pronounced /maɪt/ .

Another linguistic variation that appears in Australian English is that the /æ/ sound is replaced by /ɛ/ . So:

  • that /ðæt/ becomes /ðɛt/
  • hat /ˈhæt/ becomes /hɛt/
  • math /ˈmæθ/ becomes /mɛθ/

And of course: the famous Australian slang! Here, we shorten every word! (OK, not really every word…)

  • Avocado becomes avo
  • service station (the local word for service station) becomes servo
  • even McDonald’s becomes Macca’s !

If you see this, no doubt, you are in Australia!

Macca’sEnglish accents around the world

Here is an Australian who teaches us a bit of slang:

How To Do An Australian Accent (with slang)

Australian accent


New Zealand accent

The New Zealand accent, also called Kiwi accent , is quite similar to that of Australia, but not exactly the same! One of the key features of this accent is what is called the pin/pen phenomenon . Indeed, in this variant of English (and in some Southern US accents) the sounds /ɛ/ and /ɪ/ placed before the nasal consonants /m/ , /n/ and /ŋ/ become almost identical . .

Here’s a funny video of foreigners struggling to understand New Zealanders:

New Zealand Accent/ Slang

New Zealand accent


More videos, more accents

Listening to different English accents sparked your interest in the subject? We recommend watching a few Accent Tag Query videos on YouTube , to better understand the differences between various English dialects and accents. These videos show us people from all over the world comparing their accents. It is extremely interesting!

We have prepared a reading list for you on the subject:

Playlist: Accent Tag: World Tour of English Accents

The different English accents