Simple English in the UK and USA

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Certain terms that are heard less frequently, especially those likely to be absent or rare in American popular culture, e. Words such as bill and biscuit are used regularly in both AmE and BrE but mean different things in each form. As chronicled by Winston Churchill , the opposite meanings of the verb to table created a misunderstanding during a meeting of the Allied forces; [8] in BrE to table an item on an agenda means to open it up for discussion whereas in AmE, it means to remove it from discussion, or at times, to suspend or delay discussion.

The word "football" in BrE refers to association football , also known as soccer. In AmE, "football" means American football. The standard AmE term "soccer", a contraction of "association football ", is of British origin, derived from the formalization of different codes of football in the 19th century, and was a fairly unremarkable usage possibly marked for class in BrE until relatively recently; it has lately become perceived incorrectly as an Americanism.

Similarly, the word "hockey" in BrE refers to field hockey and in AmE, "hockey" means ice hockey. Words with completely different meanings are relatively few; most of the time there are either 1 words with one or more shared meanings and one or more meanings unique to one variety for example, bathroom and toilet or 2 words the meanings of which are actually common to both BrE and AmE but that show differences in frequency, connotation or denotation for example, smart , clever , mad.

In AmE the word pissed means being annoyed whereas in BrE it is a coarse word for being drunk in both varieties, pissed off means irritated. Similarly, in AmE the word pants is the common word for the BrE trousers and knickers refers to a variety of half-length trousers though most AmE users would use the term "shorts" rather than knickers , while the majority of BrE speakers would understand pants to mean underpants and knickers to mean female underpants.

Sometimes the confusion is more subtle. In AmE the word quite used as a qualifier is generally a reinforcement: In BrE quite which is much more common in conversation may have this meaning, as in "quite right" or "quite mad", but it more commonly means "somewhat", so that in BrE "I'm quite hungry" can mean "I'm somewhat hungry". This divergence of use can lead to misunderstanding.

It is increasingly common for Americans to say "Happy holidays", referring to all, or at least multiple, winter holidays Christmas, Hanukkah , Winter solstice , Kwanzaa , etc. In Britain, the phrases "holiday season" and "holiday period" refer to the period in the summer when most people take time off from work, and travel; AmE does not use holiday in this sense, instead using vacation for recreational excursions. Some Americans use "I could care less" to mean the same thing. This variant is frequently derided as sloppy, as the literal meaning of the words is that the speaker does care to some extent.

In both areas, saying, "I don't mind" often means, "I'm not annoyed" for example, by someone's smoking , while "I don't care" often means, "The matter is trivial or boring". However, in answering a question such as "Tea or coffee? Either sounds odd to the other. A number of English idioms that have essentially the same meaning show lexical differences between the British and the American version; for instance:. Generally, a non-restrictive relative clause also called non-defining or supplementary is one that contains information that is supplementary, i.

In the latter, "which bit the man" provides supplementary information about a known dog. A non-restrictive relative clause is typically set off by commas, whereas a restrictive relative clause is not, but this is not a rule that is universally observed. That is rarely used to introduce a non-restrictive relative clause in prose.

Six Differences Between British and American English

Which and that are both commonly used to introduce a restrictive clause; a study in reported that about 75 percent of occurrences of which were in restrictive clauses. Fowler, in A Dictionary of Modern English Usage of followed others in suggesting that it would be preferable to use which as the non-restrictive what he calls non-defining pronoun and that as the restrictive what he calls defining pronoun, but he also stated that this rule was observed neither by most writers nor by the best writers. Style guides by American prescriptivists, such as Bryan Garner, typically insist, for stylistic reasons, that that be used for restrictive relative clauses and which be used for non-restrictive clauses, referring to the use of which in restrictive clauses as a "mistake".

Before the early 18th century English spelling was not standardized. Different standards became noticeable after the publishing of influential dictionaries. In Britain, the influences of those who preferred the French spellings of certain words proved decisive. In many cases AmE spelling deviated from mainstream British spelling; on the other hand it has also often retained older forms. Many of the now characteristic AmE spellings were popularized, although often not created, by Noah Webster.

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Webster chose already-existing alternative spellings "on such grounds as simplicity, analogy or etymology". Later spelling changes in the UK had little effect on present-day US spelling, and vice versa. There have been some trends of transatlantic difference in use of periods in some abbreviations. Unit symbols such as kg and Hz are never punctuated. In formal British English and in American English " " marks are parentheses singular: In the case of a parenthetical expression which is itself a complete sentence, the final punctuation may be placed inside the parenthesis, particularly if not a full stop:.

Americans greatly outnumber Britons; in addition, as of , the United States controlled 75 percent of the world's TV programming. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For a comparison of typical American versus British pronunciation differences, see Comparison of General American and Received Pronunciation. For the Wikipedia editing policy on use of regional variants in Wikipedia, see Wikipedia: This article has multiple issues.

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The discussion page may contain suggestions. You can't call a '78 Oldsmobile station wagon a 'sports wagon' A parlour is a nice room in your house for special guests bit old fashioned , you generally don't by ice cream there. Your image is too large, maximum file size is 8 MB.

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Not your original work? There is a beast with heart of cold stone that dashes like lightning, shreds flesh from bone. My mouth babbled madness and mumbled soft pleas. In Britain we say sellotape for sticky tape whereas my American friend calls it scotch tape We say scotch tape as scotch is a tape brand here, just as we call bandages "band-aids", cotton swabs "q-tips" and jelatinis desserts "jello". Americans call things by popular brand names i. Bored Panda works better on our iPhone app.

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We and our trusted partners use technology such as cookies on our site to personalize content and ads, provide social media features, and analyze our traffic. You can read more about it and change your preferences here. Because it was exported to countries all over the world, it has been forced to accept different Even if you're a native speaker of UK or US English, there's a good chance you'll learn something new here.

CharlesFranks 2 years ago In the UK we also call jumpers sweaters and have done for years. CharlesFranks 2 years ago We too have french fries what you get in McDonalds chips are different. DianaChapman 2 years ago I always thought gray was the other way around. CharlesFranks 2 years ago In the UK jacket and baked potato are interchangeable terms. PeterKerngast 2 years ago Labeling of floors in elevators in both the US and UK is a permanent cause of confusion for continental ppl lol.

AndreaK 2 years ago Charles Franks is obviously an English language scholar. MalcolmeCollins 2 years ago One of my sister in laws had a period of schooling in the states and had the class in fits of laughter when she asked for a rubber to rectify a mistake she had made not realising that a rubber was slang for a condom. IsabelleHerbert 2 years ago Autumn is widely used in the US.


KristenHamilton 2 years ago Estate wagon sounds so much better. CharlesFranks 2 years ago A parlour is a nice room in your house for special guests bit old fashioned , you generally don't by ice cream there. EmilyMcDougall 2 years ago Poor letter U. Subscribe to our newsletter.