Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Difference Between American English and British English

If you're like me, you probably knew one or two differences between American and British English but never thought much more about it.  In Spain they learn British English.  Over the year I have picked up on important UK jargon and grammar {learning to not correct students when they say "I have got a book".  I have a book, I have a book, my inner teacher screams!!}.  Sometimes I have to go home and look up certain British words after having one of those IHaveAbsolutelyNoIdeaWhatThey'reSaying type of moments.  So here are the top differences  between American and British English that have caught me off guard the most.  

10. Have got
In the UK it is proper to say "Have you got a brother?"  instead of "Do you have a brother?"  Hurts to listen to and to say!

9.  Lift
You take a lift to get to the fourth floor of a building.  And the fourth flood is actually the fifth flood because the bottom floor is the 0th floor, not the 1st. 

8.  Maths
Mathematics is shortened so students call it "Maths".  You'll often hear or see something like, "I have Maths homework tonight" 

7.  University
In the States "school" is everything Kinder-college.  In the UK it is specific to students who are Kinder-18.  Once they graduate from high school, they attend University

6.  Trainers and Trousers and Jumpers
A jumper is a sweater.  Trainers are those things on your feet that lace up.  And trousers are what you wear on your legs every day.  Pants?  Oh gosh- don't make me blush by mentioning those things you wear under your trousers! 

5.  Pants and Knickers
Pants are men's underwear and knickers are women's underwear.

4.  Rubbish
Have you got any rubbish to take out to the rubbish bin?

3.  Colour, Favourite, Travelling
The different spelling has been so hard for me to get used to!  Our unit on Holidays {what they call vacations} challenged me.  In the US: Traveling.  In the UK:  Travelling

2.  Z
You know that last letter of the alphabet?  In the UK it is called "Zed".  Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, and Zed.  Just doesn't have the same ring to it...

1.  Rubber
I'll never forget the first time a student said, "Have you got a rubber?"  to her first grade friend.  Whhhhhat?  When she pulled out an eraser I realized rubber is entirely different in the UK.

Curious for more differences?  Check out my guest blog post at All Things Upper Elementary tomorrow!! 


  1. This is hilarious! I am living in the UK now for a year while my husband is working over here. I teach 3rd grade in Central Illinois and am going back to my classroom next year. Now I am volunteering a bit at a school, sightseeing, and just working on plans for next year. I love your "learning about different cultures" packet. This will be great for my former students to work on (we keep in touch and I tell them all about England) and for me to do with my classes when I teach about my time overseas. We went to Spain for the weekend and I fell in love with the country. What a neat experience! Love your blog. Thanks for all the freebies!!

  2. I *really* enjoyed reading this post! :) Erin