Difference Between Accent and Dialect

Main Difference – Accent vs Dialect

Accent and dialect both refer to a distinctive way of using a language, especially one associated with a particular country, region or social class. Dialect refers to a variety of a language that contains distinctive variations in grammar, syntax, vocabulary and pronunciation. Accent refers to the variations in the pronunciation. Therefore, the main difference between accent and dialect is that accent deals with phonetics and phonology whereas dialect deals with many areas such as morphology, phonology, syntax, semantics, etc.Difference Between Accent and Dialect- infographic

What is Accent

Accent deals with the phonology of the language. It is a way of pronouncing words that occurs among the people in a particular region or country. For example, someone from Alabama, in the south of US would have a Southern accent. This means that the way he or she pronounces the way is different from the way a Northerner would pronounce.

In addition, when standard language and pronunciation are defined by various standards, an accent may also refer to the deviation from the standard. For example, if someone says that another person is speaking English with a French accent, it is implied that his pronunciation is out of the standard norms.

Accent is a special element of dialect which solely focuses on pronunciation. Accent is usually associated with factors like geographical region, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, class, and first language.Difference Between Accent and Dialect

What is Dialect

A dialect is a variety of a language spoken in a particular geographical area or by a particular group of people. A dialect differs from the standard variety of a language. A dialect is characterized by variations in grammar, pronunciation, or vocabulary.  A dialect can also reflect a person’s geographical location, social background, education, and occupation.

Dialects can be classified into two categories: standard and non-standard.  A standard dialect is a dialect that is approved and supported by institutions, and non-standard dialects are those that are not supported by institutions. 

There is no standard method to identify the difference between language and a dialect of a language. Mutual intelligibility is the most common standard to identify the difference between the two. If two speakers of two varieties can understand each other, then it is accepted that the two varieties are two dialects, not languages.

Accent can be a part of a dialect. For example,  cockney English, which refers to the variety of English traditionally spoken by working-class Londoners is both referred to as a dialect and an accent. When referring to the pronunciation cockney English, one uses the term accent. When referring to the other linguistic aspects, the term dialect can be used.

Main Difference - Accent vs Dialect

Dialects of Macedonian language

Difference Between Accent and Dialect


Accent is a way of pronouncing words that occurs among the people in a particular region or country.

Dialect is a variety of a language spoken in a particular geographical area or by a particular group of people.


Accent is the variations in pronunciation.

Dialect is characterized by variations in grammar, syntax, pronunciation, or vocabulary.


Accent is a part of a dialect.

Dialect is a variety of a language.


Accent is associated with geographical location (region), socioeconomic background and status.

Dialect is mainly associated with the geographical location.

Image Courtesy:

“Two-people-talking-logo” By Selena Wilke – Own work (Public Domain) via

“Dialect of Macedonian language” via

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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