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English Grammar Lesson: American vs. British English February 13th, 2018

American English vs. British English

One day, I was invited by a British friend to a “fancy dress” party. This was very exciting, because I love to wear elegant clothes and look fancy occasionally. What a perfect invitation! To prepare, I bought new, expensive leather shoes, and a very nice jacket. I was ready to go! After preparing in the hotel room, I entered the elevator. Reaching the ground floor, the elevator doors opened and I walked out. Looking around, all I could see were people dressed as vampires all over the lobby! They had fake vampire teeth, and everyone was wearing fake blood. As you can imagine, I was very confused.

“Where are the fancy dresses and suits?” I kept thinking. Finally, my friend comes down from his room and joins me. He too is dressed like a vampire! “What in the world is going on?” I asked my friend. “It’s a fancy-dress party. Why aren’t you wearing a costume?”

Oh no! “Fancy-dress” in British English means “costume” in American English! I was so embarrassed. But, I had learned a valuable lesson. Even though British and American people speak the same language, there are many differences in vocabulary, grammar, and accent.

Let’s take some time to learn about these differences so you don’t make the same mistake as me!

Here we go!

English language games

When people think of language, they often say “English” or “Spanish,” as if learning the language in London is the same as in Boston. It can be quite fun to learn the differences between the words we use from coast to coast, or region to region. Below is a list of some common words that are different in American and British English and their meanings.

People speaking English

American: Costume party, British: Fancy dress party
Meaning: A party where people dress up in costumes, typically with a specific theme

American: Dude, British: Mate
Meaning: Informal way to greet a friend

American: Elevator, British: Lift
Meaning: Moving compartment used to lift/lower people to different floors of a building

American: Trunk, British: Boot
Meaning: The space at the back of a car used for storage

American: Thanks, British: Cheers
Meaning: Informal way to say “thank you.” *In the US, cheers is used for making toasts when you drink with friends

American: Classy, British: Posh
Meaning: Something or someone who is considered fancy

American: Cell phone, British: Mobile
Meaning: A portable phone

American: College/University, British: :Uni
Meaning: Higher educational institution

Now that we have some words to work with, let’s play a little game. Read the sentences below, and using the vocabulary as clues, try and guess if the writer is using American or British English. Try not to look at your notes.

  1. I was walking down the street one night on my way home from work when I noticed there was a person following me. Every time I looked back to see who it was, they disappeared. I thought perhaps I was going crazy, as I couldn’t catch them. I pulled out my phone to check the time, and when I looked down I walked right into my mate! Turns out, he was trying to get my attention the whole time but I had had my headphones on and couldn’t hear him!
  2. My wife and I were so excited to finally go on vacation! We were careful to arrive early to the airport so that we would have plenty of time. There was already a lot of people waiting to check-in, so we got in line. After twenty minutes, we made it to the front. When we walk up to the airline counter, we hand over our passports and wait. We are almost finished, when he asks, “do you have any luggage to check-in?” I reply that “yes, we do have suitcases to check.” I turn my head to grab my bag, and I make the horrible realization. I left my suitcase in the trunk of the taxi!
  3. Sometimes we are put into very strange situations in life. This happened to me one day, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. My friend was moving into a new flat, and I was helping her take her things to her new place as any good friend should do. She didn’t have a car, so we were using mine to bring all of the boxes across the city; there were too many to count! After a very long day of driving and carrying things, she finally said we were finished. She went across the street to grab some dinner, and I drove home. Just as I was ready to fall asleep, my mobile starts to ring. I see it is my friend calling so pick up. “Hello,” I say. “You have my new keys in your jacket!” she tells me. I suppose one more trip won’t hurt me.

Gambling in the U.S. is regulated at both the federal and local levels. Land-based casinos, online and offline sports betting (meaning fixed-odds betting) and horse racing are currently allowed. Each federal state can independently regulate these industries. The lottery is monopolized pin up casino by the state, it is run through the states, and they can issue licenses to companies offering lottery-related products.