My son is learning English as a foreign language and I notice a mixture of British and American words in his vocab lists. Is there such thing as a checked shirt, or should it be a check shirt?
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If you are talking about this kind of pattern, I believe "checkered" would be correct.
Depending on the exact pattern, though, "plaid" may be a better word.
Check shirt would be normal in British English. A checked shirt suggests one that has been inspected and found to be satisfactory.
The Corpus of Contemporary American English shows that plaid is much more common in American English (more than 3x) than the variants of checked combined. (The following numbers are for collocates with shirt, for example, plaid shirt.)
It seems checked shirt may be slightly more common than check or checkered in the US.
The British National Corpus does not seem to have many instances referencing these patterns, but it does suggest that the checked shirt and check shirt variants are more common in British English than plaid.
This doesn't mean that there's no difference between plaid and checked for anyone, but as Wikipedia suggests,
In summary, for American English, you might want to avoid the question entirely and substitute the much more common plaid. For British English, or to be understood internationally, checked is likely a good way to describe this type of pattern (and as @Peter Shor notes, check shirt and checked shirt will not be easily distinguishable in speech in any case).
protected by tchrist Feb 26 '15 at 2:20
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