This tag is for questions related to English as spoken in Great Britain, and sometimes Ireland.

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“At the beginning of the century” or “in the beginning of the century”?

At the beginning of the century. In the beginning of the century. How to clearly distinguish when to use at, or in?
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292 views

What word describes a university class in both the UK and the US?

In the US words like class, subject, course are used to describe a university class, while in the UK, words like subject and course are used to describe the name of the whole university degree. ...
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364 views

Are constructions like “That's me out, then” primarily British rather than American?

Prompted by comments to this question on English Learners (about "That's you done"), I've been searching Google Books for similar constructions of the general form that's [pro]noun adjective (for this ...
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Can the word 'loo' mean bathroom (with bath and shower and all) [closed]

English is not my first language, so I may be completely wrong, but I always thought that 'loo' meant 'toilet', the thing itself as well as the small room with just a toilet and maybe a small sink, ...
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2answers
447 views

Why does European packaging use “gb” to represent English?

Something I've always wondered is why companies that are based in Europe tend to use "country" abbreviations to represent a language instead of the language abbreviation itself. Given that there are ...
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1answer
392 views

How has the usage of 'should' varied over time? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “Should” versus “would” In Spring 1936, Evelyn Waugh sent a marriage proposal to Laura Herbert, in which he wrote: [...] On the other ...
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What is the meaning and etymology of the adjective “jammy”, of Yorkshire English?

What is the etymology of the adjective jammy? As in, Thou art a jammy bugger! I confess I've never seen the word before. When I looked it up, I found confusing etymologies: one source says it ...
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1answer
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A British pronunciation issue

Most dictionaries list the pronunciation of issue as /ˈɪʃuː/ (ĭsho͞o) in American English and /ˈɪs.juː/ (ĭsyo͞o) possibly alongside /ˈɪʃjuː/ (ĭshyo͞o) and /ˈɪʃuː/ in British English. One informal ...
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1answer
221 views

Cardinal British Dates - A Kiwi Original?

I had never heard the use of cardinal numbers in dates when speaking until I moved to New Zealand. It seems particularly prevalent in TV and radio advertising, but doesn't seem to follow either ...
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1answer
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American English: which vs that [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When is it appropriate to use 'that' as opposed to 'which'? We've had an American Americanise some phrases for us (with the point of teaching children ...
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4answers
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British English - “In two hours time”

From users of British English, I have noticed the pattern of adding "time" after a unit of time, as in: He has class in 30 minutes time. My initial impression as an American is that this is ...
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4answers
857 views

The name given to the trail of afterburn (of a jet perhaps?)

What is the name of the trail (of after burn) left by a jet? I know it's something nearly like "after burn", but I can't be sure as I've not used it for quite a long time!
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Is it really rude to use the terms “the john” and “the loo” in lieu of “the restroom”?

I usually use the term "restroom" (or "toilet" if I want to make sure that everyone in the Czech Republic understands me at once), and, while I've always understood that the terms "john" and "loo" are ...
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8answers
946 views

Dinky cars (toy cars)

I came across this term while proofreading an unpublished poem by an Irish poet. The context is not important so I'll just say that it is clear that it means “toy cars”. I Googled the term and see ...
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5answers
763 views

Accurate British English term for an oblong deck from shore out into a lake where you tie your rowing boat

This is a typical image of the structure in question: There are also some variations, shown in this Google image search. But I'm after the often not very wide, some 20-30 feet long wood ...
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7answers
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What’s “maiden name” all about?

I was pondering the term maiden name when talking with British English speakers recently. They don’t seem to have that term. So my question is two-fold: Is there another term for maiden name, ...
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3answers
378 views

What were the British equivalents of Webster's dictionary and the Simplified Spelling Board that standardized spelling and usage?

I am familiar with questions about when to double 'l' and differences between British and American spellings. However, I stumbled across this image. As you can see, several words end in the double ...
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2answers
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What would be the British Equivalent Words to “Freshmen” “Sophomore”

I know that to describe which year you're in, with American English, people usually use words like: Freshmen - 1st year college/university student Sophomore - 2nd year Junior - 3rd year Senior - ...
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4answers
655 views

Is “ringing somebody up” exclusive to telephone use in British English?

Is ringing somebody up exclusive to telephone use, or can it be used to say you made a call on somebody's person? EDIT: Note that my question is specifically asking about British English; I would ...
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4answers
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“Equal” versus “Equals” [duplicate]

I've seen variants of this question, but nothing explicitly like the one below: Three feet equals/equal a yard. Which is correct? Is there a definitive explanation? Please indicate BrE vs AmE ...
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3answers
472 views

Roundel vs Roundabout [closed]

What, if any, is the difference between the two? My best guess is that a 'roundel' is the traffic island or structure that you drive around, while the 'roundabout' also includes the road you're ...
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1answer
209 views

Why use “constitutionality” instead of “constitutional”? [closed]

This morning I heard the word "constitutionality" being used by a journalist with regard to the debate over the legality of health care reforms here in the US. This grates on my British ears as I ...
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443 views

Help me understand this article

I read this article about 5 times and looked up every word I don't understand and I still am completely clueless as to what exactly is the article talking about(the topic). It really irritates me and ...
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3answers
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Second name or Surname in British English

I have recently been told by a Londoner that "second name" is the most common way of referring to one's surname. She explained that it arose from the fact that most people just use their first and ...
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634 views

London dialect usage

I found the following sentence in this article and was trying to understand it. I could get the meaning from the context, but I cannot deconstruct the sentence at all. They introduced pugnacity, ...
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Does the interjection “steady on!” mean something to a Brit?

More from the BBC adaptation of Charles Dickens' Bleak House. In this particular scene, one character, Sergeant George, is infuriated at another character, Mr. Smallwood, his petty landlord come to ...
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“Never mind” in AmE and BrE

Reading some forum pages about the meaning of this phrase, I realized that there's a difference in usage of it, between American and British English. What's the difference in meaning of "never mind" ...
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5answers
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What does it mean to be “hard done by” - a phrase I heard from a Canadian friend

From the context of discussion, I took "hard done by" to mean "taken advantage unfair of" as in "He felt hard done by by former friends." I had never heard the phrase before and have not heard it ...
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Usage of “shall we?”

What does it mean and where would I use it?
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3answers
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Did Sir Arthur Conan Doyle coin the proverb “A change is as good as a rest”?

The proverb a change is as good as a rest is defined by Oxford Dictionaries as: A change of work or occupation can be as restorative or refreshing as a period of relaxation Cambridge ...
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6answers
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What connotation exactly does the word “noddy” have in British English?

I watched a BBC adaptation of Charles Dickens' The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby the other day, and came across a bit of dialogue I couldn't quite decipher: A character named Squeers: ...
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2answers
622 views

The children are creating

In the lyrics of Friends Will Be Friends by Queen: Another red letter day So the pound has dropped and the children are creating. What does the phrase highlighted in bold mean?
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Meaning of Down to the?

What is the meaning of down to the? E.g. in this statement: In order to use this feature, the statements must be exactly the same - down to the number of spaces, tabs, capital/small letters. ...
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321 views

Cockney wh-dropping

The Cockney accent typically, or at least stereotypically, drops the initial /h/ from many a word. Does it drop the initial /h/ from who, whole, whore, and whose? Wikipedia says yes, but I seek a more ...
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1answer
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Why does there exist a difference in spelling between British English and American English?

I understand that the use of different terms for the same item (e.g., "car park" vs. "parking lot") has already been discussed, but I'm interested to know why we spell the same words differently in ...
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“Parametrise” or “parameterise” a curve?

In British English, which one is correct? Does one parameterise a curve or parametrise it?
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Pinpointing British accents

After having watched British TV and movies for a while, I came across several accents I liked. But I'm not completely sure what they are, so I need your help :) David Tennant as The 10th Doctor ...
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2answers
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Is “raises question marks over” a correct and common phrase?

Is a sentence like Dynamic method invocation raises question marks over the way existing instances should be handled. correct in a technical paper (computer science)? (I think it is in the ...
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3answers
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Where did the phrase “Give it some wellie” originate?

I've heard this a few times, and I would presume that it comes from Wellingtons, with the meaning of put some boot to it. Is there an origin for this phrase?
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Sapu Lidi: A broom made of many wooden sticks

For many Indonesians, the name sapu lidih or sapu lidi is somewhat familiar. Well, this "sapu lidih" is actually a broom made of many wooden sticks. If you translate the name directly to English, it ...
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Should you always start a new paragraph when starting a new speaker even if the sentence directly before that is directly related?

When a new speaker starts a new line of dialogue you start a new paragraph at the same time. Does this rule still hold true if the sentence before the dialogue starts relates directly to the dialogue? ...
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695 views

Should one stick to American style of placing punctuation marks within quotes if one uses the American spelling?

According to Wikipedia, there are two ways to use punctation marks when it comes to quoting. Basically, we have the British style, where punctation marks that don't come from the quoted material "is ...
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What is a “hens party” and where is this phrase commonly used?

Where does the term come from, where in the world is the term used? I came across the usage in this article, with this paragraph as quoted: Keara O'Neil was on a shopping trip to find bridesmaid ...
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“Interfere in” vs. “interfere with”

I was taught that when interfere is followed by in, it means to get involved in something that doesn't concern you; when followed by with, it means to prevent something from being done. And this is ...
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799 views

Spelling protocol (American/British/Canadian) for an International conference

If I'm a Canadian who'll be presenting in an international conference, should I use my country's spelling, which is the Canadian/British spelling like "grey" or the more used American spelling like ...
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6answers
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In what contexts would one use the slang word “minging” in British English?

I was watching a Youtube video on English accents, and in the middle of a Yorkshire one, I think, the author of the video used the word "minging", in what seemed to be an insult. So I have two ...
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What is the meaning of the phrase “chance would be a fine thing”?

I've heard this phrase used many times. e.g. -Got a completion date back on your new conservatory? -Ha! Chance'd be a fine thing. I think I have a general idea of what it must mean from ...
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Are any of the t-glottolization, th-fronting, h-dropping, etc. in English a phonological complex?

Wikipedia gives the following, with plenty others ommitted by me, as some of the features of Cockney English: T-glottalisation: Use of the glottal stop as an allophone of /t/ in various ...
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What's the English for the Italian 'materico'?

Speaking about contemporary art, I often use the adjective 'materico' to describe the quality of a painting realized with thick layers of colour. It is not simply a question of thickness. In the art ...
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162 views

Why is taking a side street called a “rat run”?

I stumbled upon this expression for the first time while doing some research for an answer, and I have to admit I love it! An explanation of rat running/ a rat run is as follows "Rat running/ A ...