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Is the bottom-most floor (on ground level not the basement) "ground floor" or "first floor" in America?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

It is ground floor in GB and first floor in the US.

The first three levels top to bottom are:


Third Floor

Second Floor

First Floor


Second Floor

First Floor

Ground Floor

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Actually in US elevators "1" and "G" are interchangeable and both refer to the floor at ground-level. –  Jim Jun 3 '12 at 16:43
Or 'L' for lobby. –  Mitch Jun 3 '12 at 16:53
British lifts (="elevators") sometimes use floor numbering which counts down through zero to basements: ...3 2 1 0 -1 -2... –  Andrew Leach Jun 3 '12 at 17:26
Jim is correct, "Ground" is just as common as "First" in referring to that floor in the US. You're right about 2nd and 3rd, etc., but you're incorrect about Ground vs First. –  Mark Beadles Jun 3 '12 at 18:16
@MarkBeadles I have given a specific answer to a specific question. I am not saying anything about the local versions. –  user20934 Jun 4 '12 at 7:30

These are usually interchangeable, but I was recently visiting a relative at a major hospital on the shore of Lake Erie and when I came down the elevator I pressed "G" and found myself one floor below the one with the main entrance/exit. So, it's not entirely standard.

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"Usually" is a good notice to put here. For example when a large building is built on a sloping ground, the entrance on one end of the building may be on a different floor than the entrance on the other end. –  GEdgar Jun 3 '12 at 23:37
Did you end up in the garage? That's where I usually assume G will take me. –  J.T. Grimes Jun 4 '12 at 2:33

I've heard it called the first floor in areas where basements are uncommon. "Ground Floor" is used to describe the floor on the ground because the first floor is actually the basement. I have seen this practice used at universities. University elevators have a first floor, but the ground floor (usually floor 2) is denoted with a star to indicate the "Ground Floor".

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Normally there is a slight difference between the ground floor and the first floor depending on a commercial or residential building. Commercial structures refers to the entrance level as the first floor of the building and residential structures refers to the entrance level as the ground floor of the building and the first floor being above the entrance level.

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