Australian English: Everything You Need To Know | Lingoda (2022)

Considered one of the major variations of the English language, Australian English is the official language of Australia, having originally deviated from British English in the 18th century, after the founding of the Colony of New South Wales. It has been recognised as being distinctive from British English for almost 200 years and emerged as European settlers from Britain, Ireland and Germany mixed with one another.

  • Linguistic features of Australian English
  • Grammatical features of Australia English
  • Pronunciation in Australia
  • Australian English Vocabulary
  • Australian slang words

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Linguistic features of Australian English

Generally speaking, Australian English takes features from bothBritish and American English,so it is sometimes considered a combination of the two variations. However, it is important to understand that there are a number of unique features as well, including exclusive vocabulary.

(Video) Australian Slang | Real Life English! | Vocabulary and Common Expressions

Learning the specific features can be beneficial to anyone planning on travelling to the country, or anyone hoping to find work in the country in future. So, with that in mind, here is our quick guide to Australian English.

Grammatical features of Australia English

Australian English’s reputation as an amalgam of British andAmerican Englishcan be understood more clearly when you look at its grammatical features. For example, in terms of spelling, Australian English most closely resemblesBritish English.The ‘u’ is retained in words like ‘colour’ and the ‘ise’ ending is used instead of the Americanised ‘ize’ suffix on words like ‘realise’/’realize’.

Yet, there are plenty of exceptions to this. The word ‘inquire’ is often used instead of ‘enquire’, which resembles American English, while the word ‘program’ is used instead of the British English ‘programme’. Furthermore, even though the British English spelling of ‘labour’ is most common, the Australian Labor Party’s name has an Americanised spelling instead.

Much like with British English, Australian English has irregularpast tenseand past participles of verbs like ‘spell’ and ‘smell’, so they become ‘spelt’ and ‘smelt’, respectively. However, like with American English, Australians are more likely to say numbers like 1,100 as “eleven hundred”, rather than “one thousand, one hundred”.

When dealing with collective nouns, Australian English has more in common with theAmericanversion of the language. For example, both Australians and Americans would say “the football teamhasscored a goal”, whereas in British English, they would say “the football teamhavescored a goal”.

Interestingly, the naming of rivers follows either American or British conventions, depending on where in the country you are. For most of Australia, the American naming convention is used, so the word ‘River’ appears last, as with the Hudson River or the Mississippi River. To give an Australian example, it would be the Darling River.

Yet, in Southern Australia, the British naming system is used, with the word ‘River’ appearing first, as with the River Thames. Therefore, the river mentioned above would be called the River Darling.

Pronunciation in Australia

Australian English vs American English truly takes on a life of its own when it comes to the pronunciation of words and this is why most people with Australian accents sound so distinctive. One of the most noticeable features is the different sound for the ‘i’ in words like ‘night’ and ‘like’. Instead, it sounds like a less pronounced ‘oi’, (e.g. ‘noight’).

The soft ‘a’, which can be heard in words like ‘cat’ and ‘hat’, is usually pronounced similar to ‘eh’. As such, this means that the word ‘cat’ sounds like ‘ceht’, while the word ‘hat’ sounds like ‘heht’.

Likewise, a similar phenomenon can be observed with the hard ‘a’ sound, which features in words like ‘day’, ‘way’ or ‘mate’. In this instance, the ‘a’ is pronounced somewhat similar to how aBritish Englishperson might say the word ‘aye’. Therefore, the word ‘mate’ becomes ‘m-aye-te’.

(Video) Australian Slang Words You Need to Know (Australian English)

In most cases, the ‘ing’ ending is not pronounced in full, meaning words like ‘singing’, ‘jumping’ and ‘catching’ are pronounced ‘singin’, ‘jumpin’ and ‘catchin’. This is a trait that is sometimes seen in informal English in both theUnited Statesand Great Britain as well, but it is more common in Australian English.

Finally, Australian English is said to be a non-rhotic variation of the language, which means that the /r/ sound is not pronounced if it is after a vowel and not immediately followed by another vowel. For instance, the word ‘card’ is pronounced ‘caːd’, with the /r/ sound being dropped. Meanwhile, the ending of words like ‘better’ and ‘wetter’ is lowered, to sound similar to ‘ah’. This means you would say ‘bett-ah’, ‘wett-ah’, ‘riv-ah’, and so on.

Australian English Vocabulary

Let’s look at Autralian English vs American and British English words more closely: As far as everyday vocabulary is concerned, Australian English once again shares words and phrases with both British and American English, but also has some terminology of its own.

Perhaps the most obvious examples of Australian words which are now recognised in other variants of the language are ‘outback’, used to describe a remote location, and ‘barbie’, used instead of the noun ‘barbecue’. An example of an Australian-only expression, meanwhile, would be ‘doona’, which is used instead of the word ‘duvet’,

Like in British English, Australians say ‘aluminium’ rather than ‘aluminum’ and ‘mobile phone’ instead of ‘cell phone’. Australian English also utilises the words ‘anti-clockwise’ instead of the American ‘counter-clockwise’ and ‘petrol’ instead of the American ‘gasoline’. The cover on the front of a car is called a ‘bonnet’, rather than a ‘hood’, while an Australian will typically say ‘holiday’ instead of ‘vacation’.

Nevertheless, Australian English vocabulary differs from British English in many ways and Australians sometimes use American English words instead. For instance, Australians will usually say ‘soccer’ instead of ‘football’ and ‘overalls’ instead of ‘dungarees’. A ‘lorry’ is referred to as a ‘truck’ and the word ‘pants’ is used in place of ‘trousers’.

Moreover, there are some phrases which are common in both British and American English, but which very rarely feature in Australian English, if they are used at all. These include the word ‘abroad’, where an Australian would usually say ‘overseas’, and ‘village’, as even small settlements in Australia are usually called ‘towns’.

Australian slang words

Last, but not least, it is important to learn a few slang words that are widely used in Australia. Below, we have listed fifteen of the most common Australian slang words and phrases, along with a quick description of what they mean, or how they are utilised in conversation. A little English to Australian dictionary if you will:

(Video) Australian Slang | English Lesson | Aussie Vocabulary

  1. Amber– Beer or lager.
  2. Aussie– An Australian person.
  3. Drongo– Used in place of words like ‘idiot’ or ‘moron’.
  4. Fair Dinkum– True, or genuine.
  5. Gander– To have a look at something.
  6. G’Day– Literally means ‘good day’ but is used as a general greeting.
  7. Give It A Burl– Give it a try, or have a go.
  8. Hooroo– Goodbye.
  9. Oldies– Parents.
  10. Pom/Pommie– A British person(be warned: this word can cause offense as it is generally used in aderogatory manner).
  11. Reckon– Used similar to ‘absolutely’.
  12. Ripper– Similar to words like ‘great’, ‘fantastic’ and ‘awesome’.
  13. She’s Apple– It is fine / It will be okay.
  14. Tucker– Used to describe food of any type.
  15. Yabber– Talk, or chat.

Learn how to speak “Australian” with videos or podcasts

So let’s put what we learned above into practice. There are a lot of great YouTube tutorials to help you work on your pronunciation or your choice of words. You can start off with this video that explains how to use abbreviations in Australian slang. Then you can move on with this general short video about the Australian accent. Pete has his own channel called Aussie English and in this video he explains three types of Aussie accents. Browse through his channel and you will find countless videos on Australian slang, expressions that make you sound Australian or information on Australian culture.

If you prefer a good podcast, try one of these:

1. It’s a lot with Abbie Chatflied: A conversational podcast about everyday life topics, comedy, dating, mental health and interviews
2. You’re Doing Great Sweetie!: The hosts Josie and Mel are talking about the ups and downs of life and give you a virtual audio hug
3. The Australian Money Café: A podcast about business, economics and finance
4. ABC podcasts: Podcasts recommended by Australia’s news network ABC from different genres.
5. True Crime: Crime stories from Australia

FAQs

What is typical for Australian English? ›

The Australian accent is famous for its vowel sounds, absence of a strong “r” pronunciation and the use of an inflection – or intonation – at the end of sentences, which can make statements sound like questions. According to Felicity, the way vowels are pronounced is the most peculiar feature of Australian English.

Is Australian English easy to understand? ›

"Australian English is a bit different from normal English. Here they speak so fast and at the same time, the words get jumbled up. So sometimes, it's a bit hard for me to understand. 'G'day mate'... is a common term they use here.

How can I practice Australian English? ›

How to Speak Australian
  1. Drop the ends of words. If a word ends in r, drop it and replace it with a short 'a' sound. ...
  2. Add vowels. No, really. ...
  3. Finish your sentences by going up at the end. Known as the 'Australian Question Inflection', it makes everything you say sound like a question.
  4. Twist those vowels.

What do you know about Australian English? ›

Australian English is a non-rhotic dialect. The Australian accent is most similar to that of New Zealand and is also similar to accents from the South-East of Britain, particularly those of Cockney and Received Pronunciation. As with most dialects of English, it is distinguished primarily by its vowel phonology.

How do Australian say hello? ›

The most common verbal greeting is a simple “Hey”, “Hello”, or “Hi”. Some people may use Australian slang and say “G'day” or “G'day mate”. However, this is less common in cities. Many Australians greet by saying “Hey, how are you?”.

How do Australian people say no? ›

But when people began to realise that “naur” is actually the genuine way Australians pronounce “no”, it sent the world into a spin.

Which English accent is closest to Australia? ›

The New Zealand accent is most similar to Australian accents (particularly those of Victoria, Tasmania, New South Wales and South Australia) but is distinguished from these accents by the presence of three "clipped" vowels, slightly resembling South African English.

Which English accent is most like Australian? ›

The Australian is more closely related, historically and phonologically, to typical regional British accents . Probably RP and Cockney.

Do Australians talk quickly? ›

One of the first things you'll notice about Australia will no doubt be the very unique speaking habits of its people. Australians speak fast, 'chew' words and skip pronunciation of letters – combine this with their penchant for slang and abbreviations, and you have a language that's quite difficult to comprehend!

How do Aussies say aluminum? ›

You say: Aluminum foil

To Americans, the handy kitchen product is pronounced “a-LU-min-num” and to us Aussies it's “al-U-min-ium.” We could just settle it once and for all and say “al foil.”

How do Australians say Aussie? ›

Pronunciation. In Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and Ireland, the word is pronounced /ˈɒzi/, hence the alternative form Ozzie; however, in the United States, it is most often pronounced /ˈɔːsi/ AW-see.

Does Australian English use Z or S? ›

One key distinction between Australian English and American English in terms of orthography (spelling) is the use of, 's,' as opposed to, 'z. ' For example, in America, words such as, 'specialise,' 'authorise,' and, 'analyse,' are spelt with a, 'z,' as opposed to the, 's' that is used in Australian English.

Why is Australian English so different? ›

Australian English can be described as a new dialect that developed as a result of contact between people who spoke different, mutually intelligible, varieties of English. The very early form of Australian English would have been first spoken by the children of the colonists born into the early colony in Sydney.

Why do Australians say mate? ›

The Australian National Dictionary explains that the Australian usages of mate derive from the British word 'mate' meaning 'a habitual companion, an associate, fellow, comrade; a fellow-worker or partner', and that in British English it is now only in working-class use.

How do Aussies say nice? ›

Noice, or nice pronounced with an exaggerated Australian accent, is a synonym for awesome.

How do Australians say Z? ›

But it's also used in almost every English-speaking country. In England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Australia, India, Canada (usually), and New Zealand, Z is pronounced as zed. It's derived from the Greek letter zeta.

Why do Australians say nah? ›

The seemingly contradictory term is a boardroom regular - a setting in which we usually hope to elicit opinions and give little offence. Yeah, nah provides an informal, easy way to agree, disagree, deflect attention off ourselves and move between topics with a little more tact than we would have twenty years ago.

Why do Aussies say too easy? ›

Too easy: Another variation on “no worries.” Particularly useful when someone is asking you to do something. That something can, in reality, be either easy or not. Example 1: “Can I please have a glass of water?” “Too easy.”

How do Aussies say water? ›

Wa-derrr

What is Australia accent called? ›

In Australia, this dialect is sometimes called Strine /ˈstɹɑɪn/ (or "Strayan" /ˈstɹæɪən/, a shortening of the word Australian), and a speaker of the dialect may be referred to as an Ocker.

Why do Australians call English poms? ›

Australians have been using the word freely since its probable emergence in the late 19th century as a nickname for English immigrants, a short form of pomegranate, referring to their ruddy complexions.

What accents do Australians find attractive? ›

You might want to change that plan a little and head to Australia. A new survey suggests that the accent Australian people find the hottest is – you guessed it – British.

Is the Australian accent cute? ›

It's cute, it's alluring, and it's attractive. It's a quirk. For people who aren't used to it (a.k.a non Australians) we find it funny and noticeable. Most of all, we find it cute and attractive!

Do Australians say girlfriend? ›

We call our girlfriends or wives by their name, or affectionate nickname. We don't say: “Hey you!” or “Come here, you.”

What is Australian slang for girl? ›

5. Sheila = Girl. Yes, that is the Australian slang for girl.

What do Australians call kids? ›

Aussie Slang
Phrase/termMeaning
Ankle-biterchild
Arvoafternoon
Barbiebarbeque
Barracksupport (a sports team)
55 more rows

What are boys called in Australia? ›

People Slang
PEOPLE
Ankle biter :small child
Bloke :man, guy
Blokey :behaving 'manly'
Blow in :stranger
103 more rows

What do Aussies call their friends? ›

Mate. “Mate” is a popular word for friend. And while it's used in other English-speaking countries around the world, it has a special connection to Australia.

What do Aussies call mcdonalds? ›

Here in Australia, however, McDonald's most prevalent nickname is “Macca's”. A recent branding survey commissioned by McDonald's Australia found that 55 per cent of Australians refer to the company by its local slang name.

Why do Aussies say Ripper? ›

Ripper. Chances are, you'll be using this word a lot. Meaning awesome or fantastic, if something is “bloody ripper” it must be totally amazing!

What's the most Aussie thing to say? ›

Australian slang: 33 phrases to help you talk like an Aussie
  • Wrap your laughing gear 'round that.
  • Dog's breakfast. ...
  • Tell him he's dreaming. ...
  • A few stubbies short of a six-pack. ...
  • What's the John Dory? ...
  • Have a Captain Cook. ...
  • No worries, mate, she'll be right. ...
  • Fair go, mate. Fair suck of the sauce bottle. ...
18 Dec 2017

What do Aussies say instead of Cheers? ›

"Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi" is a cheer or chant often performed at Australian sport events. It is a variation of the Oggy Oggy Oggy chant used by both soccer and rugby union fans in Great Britain from the 1960s onwards.

Why do Australians say Bluey? ›

Mostly coined in Australia than anywhere else in the world, 'bluey' is (generally) used as an affectionate nickname for a redhead. It is thought by some to have derived from the early 1900s as a form of irony. Blue is evidently contrasting with red, thus being used as a joke.

How do Aussies say Adidas? ›

Modern IPA: ádɪdas. Traditional IPA: ˈædɪdæs. 3 syllables: "AD" + "i" + "das"

How do Australians spell color? ›

American English uses 'or' in words like 'color', 'favor' and 'labor'. Australian English uses 'our', as in 'colour', 'favour' and 'labour'.

How do Australians say elevator? ›

A Confusing Mix Of English

For instance, Aussies frequently describe a “lift” (UK) or “elevator” (US) using both terms.

Is it Realise or realize in Australia? ›

Realize and realise are alternate spellings of the same word. In the US and Canada, realize is by far the more common spelling. In the UK, Australia, and New Zealand realise dominates, though realize is sometimes used too.

Is Australian accent harder than British? ›

If you find the British accent difficult to understand, it's likely you'll find the Aussie accent even harder to grasp as, for the most part, Australia is a melting pot of all the different regional dialects of British English.

Is Australia more American or British? ›

Australia has historical links to Britain but Australia is culturally dominated by American media. Overtly Australians are linked to Britain and subliminally influenced by the U.S.A. Generally speaking, Australians think more like Europeans who consider Americans to be a lot more dangerous species than the British .

Do Australians say g day? ›

It surely sounds strange to those who are familiar with American or British English, but it is a very common expression in Australia. G'day is a shortened form of 'Good Day' and it is the equivalent of 'Hello.

How do Aussies say good morning? ›

3. “G'day

Can you call a girl mate in Australia? ›

The term "mate" is essentially gender neutral in Australia. This applies almost in all cases except perhaps if you're a male and bump into a woman who is 'generationally' older than you.

How is Australian English different? ›

Australian English follows British spelling very closely but many common words are spelt differently in American English. Despite being spelt differently, the meaning of the word is the same. Australian and American English have different ways of spelling certain words, such as those ending with 'yse' or 'ise'.

How is Australian English different from British English? ›

Both Australian English and British English follow received pronunciation. This is the most commonly used form of pronunciation, according to Oxford University. While the British accent is based on vowel- and consonant phonics, Australian English is primarily vowel-based.

What does Australian English sound like to foreigners? ›

To Americans, Australian speech sounds like a more nasal version of a southern English accent. And (although you didn't ask this) New Zealand speech sounds like an even more nasal version of an Australian accent.

What are the 3 types of Australian accent? ›

Three main varieties of Australian English are spoken according to linguists: broad, general and cultivated. They are part of a continuum, reflecting variations in accent.

How do you say pants in Australia? ›

Daks: Australians call their trousers 'daks'.

How do Australians say water? ›

Wa-derrr

What is the most Australian thing to say? ›

Australian slang: 33 phrases to help you talk like an Aussie
  • Wrap your laughing gear 'round that.
  • Dog's breakfast. ...
  • Tell him he's dreaming. ...
  • A few stubbies short of a six-pack. ...
  • What's the John Dory? ...
  • Have a Captain Cook. ...
  • No worries, mate, she'll be right. ...
  • Fair go, mate. Fair suck of the sauce bottle. ...
18 Dec 2017

Why do Aussies sound like Brits? ›

The Aussie accent, as we know it today, started more than 200 years ago with the children of the convicts, soldiers and other European arrivals. The parents spoke with all different kinds of English accents because they came from many places in England.

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4. Americans don't understand Australian English?! (Aussie slang makes any sense...)
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