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

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12
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3answers
4k views

When will “Present Perfect vs. Past Tense” cases be affected by culture?

Regarding actions taken in the past, besides the differences those two tenses have semantically, my teacher shared that it could be a British vs American English case. When talking about past ...
13
votes
6answers
25k views

When is it correct to use “yourself” and “myself” (versus “you” and “me”)?

I'm confused by why people use the following: It's up to yourself. Rather than: It's up to you. Another example of this would be: Please feel free to contact ourselves if you have any ...
47
votes
8answers
16k views

Is there a reason the British omit the article when they “go to hospital”?

Why do British speakers omit the article in constructions like "go to hospital" or "go on holiday"? Pretty much all American speakers would rephrase those as "go to the hospital" and "go on a ...
18
votes
5answers
13k views

What is the pronunciation of “the”?

I read that the definite article is pronounced differently depending on the word that follows it. Which is the exact pronunciation of the?
21
votes
6answers
7k views

Are the endings “-zation” and “-sation” interchangeable?

What is with words that have forms that end both in -zation and -sation, such as localization and localisation? Many spell checkers recommend -zation.
12
votes
5answers
6k views

Using contracted forms (“don't”, “let's”) in a formal text

How compelled should I feel to use non-contracted forms (do not rather than don't and so on) when writing in a rather formal text, say an academic paper? In one case I am afraid to seem too stilted, ...
17
votes
5answers
4k views

ON an American street, but IN a British one. Do the twain ever meet?

In the United States, we say that someone lives on a street, whereas I've noticed that British people say in. For instance: Bubba lives on Washington Street. Colin lives in Cavendish Avenue. I ...
67
votes
28answers
8k views

Is there an American English equivalent of the British idiom “carrying coals to Newcastle”?

I'm an American living in the Netherlands who is learning Dutch. There's an idiom in Dutch that describes performing a needless/futile activity, "water naar de zee dragen," which literally translates ...
31
votes
6answers
62k views

“Oriented” vs. “orientated”

What are the origins of the word orientated? As far as I know, the correct spelling is oriented and orientated is not an alternative spelling but an error that is in common use. Is it for example ...
32
votes
15answers
6k views

Words with opposite meanings in different regions

I can't recall it, but there is a word in American English which now means the opposite of itself in British English. What words are there that have opposite (not just different) meanings in different ...
22
votes
2answers
4k views

When do you use “learnt” and when “learned”?

Is learnt UK English and learned US? Is it that simple? I’m used to using learnt, but my US spellchecker says it is wrong.
8
votes
8answers
13k views

“have” vs.“have got” in American and British English

I have looked through several questions and answers on EL&U, and often there is an indication that American English prefers "have" while British English prefers "have got". In addition, there are ...
21
votes
5answers
12k views

Capitalisation of nouns in English in the 17th and 18th centuries

It seems to have been common practice in the 17th and 18th centuries in Britain to capitalise the first letters of nouns in English, e.g. At which Time he prov'd himself the Noah's Dove, that ...
11
votes
6answers
10k views

“Speak to” vs. “Speak with”

What are the differences between these two phrasal verbs and what are the best situations to use each?
20
votes
7answers
4k views

“Knocked up” to mean “woken up”

I'm reading some Sherlock Holmes stories (don't judge - it's good vacation reading) and Conan Doyle has Holmes saying things like "Sorry to knock you up, Watson..." which I'm finding very... odd. ...
21
votes
9answers
51k views

What is the difference between “English” and “British”?

As an American, I naively think of British and English as exact synonyms. I know I'm wrong, but I just don't know in what way. I am vaguely aware that people in the UK hold strong opinions about one ...
6
votes
10answers
35k views

Is there a rule in British English about how to pronounce “either”?

There are two common pronunciations of "either": British /ˈaɪðər/ and American /ˈiːðər/. If Americans are more or less consistent in this regard, then the Brits seem to be freely using both. In fact, ...
25
votes
2answers
3k views

How and when did American spelling supersede British spelling in the US?

Considering that Webster published his first dictionary in 1806, is there a recognised tipping point (year, decade, etc.) that marked the move from traditional British spelling to Webster's American? ...
14
votes
8answers
12k views

Is it proper to omit periods after honorifics (Mr, Mrs, Dr)?

I've been reading the Economist lately and they apparently don't punctuate honorifics like "Mr.", "Mrs.", e.g. The popular rejection of Mr Mubarak offers the Middle East’s best chance for reform ...
13
votes
4answers
906 views

Which English language variety is best to use for global e-commerce?

Which variety of English — like American English, British English, and so one — is better to choose when translating to Englis, or building it from scratch, for an e-commerce site which intends to ...
4
votes
2answers
861 views

Does modifying a collective noun with a number make the subject plural?

The word dozen is a collective noun, i.e., singular when we think of them as groups and plural when we think of the individuals acting within the whole. So we might say: Talking about eggs: "A ...
3
votes
1answer
1k views

“s” vs. “z” in BE vs. AE

I have trouble understanding why some words change "s"-es to "z"-s from BE to AE and some not. For example: analyse -> analyze characterise -> characterize hypnotise -> hypnotize But: compromise ...
29
votes
8answers
22k views

“Toilet”, “lavatory” or “loo” for polite society

My friend is trying so hard to fit into polite society, and is raising her child to say loo rather than toilet. I know it should be lavatory (and I would not say lav) but we are in the 21st century ...
16
votes
3answers
5k views

Why is “can I get” replacing “could I have”?

I noticed the other day when serving the public that when asking for something, people were saying "Can I get an xyz, please". The previous time I had such a job it was "Could I have an xyz", or "May ...
16
votes
5answers
10k views

“right” vs “correct”

Except when we use right to denote direction, what is the difference between these two terms? Also, which one is the preferred construction between these two Am I right? or Am I correct?
12
votes
5answers
6k views

Can “already” be used after a simple past verb in American English?

A British colleague asked if these two sentences are grammatically acceptable in American English: They found already high recognition in Europe and we wish to carry that further. ...
4
votes
3answers
628 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 ...
19
votes
8answers
11k views

Is “used in anger” a Britishism for something?

On a different board, someone referred to a computer language that had achieved popularity beyond the academic world as "used in anger", the way a shot fired in combat instead of on the practice range ...
12
votes
4answers
12k views

Why is 'forty' spelled without a 'u' in Canadian/British English?

I was writing in Word today (with the Canadian English dictionary enabled) and it kept putting a redline under "fourty" which I couldn't understand. A bit of searching says that, even in British and ...
9
votes
2answers
548 views

Where does the word “sh**” come from?

Once upon a time in America, particularly during the 1970s, if you asked an American whether they ‘fancied a shag’, they might well have thought of this: And therefore declined the offer for fear ...
8
votes
1answer
2k views

UK English: Is “dived” a valid word?

Proofing a manuscript, I found this in the middle of a chase scene: Spotting an opening, I dived into it and was horrified to find it was a dead end. Is “dived” a valid past tense of the verb ...
7
votes
2answers
165 views

How did the practice of identifying an object after using a pronoun evolve?

While watching Barclay's Premier League matches on the Fox Soccer Channel, the announcers often identify an object by name immediately after using a pronoun. For example, in a match occuring right ...
4
votes
1answer
574 views

Punctuation within quotes

When I was at school I was told that a quote should end with a comma. For example: "The car is on the road," said Tom. "No it isn't," replied Dick. "He's right — it's over there!" said Harry. ...
29
votes
12answers
6k views

Is there a difference between “cheers” and “thanks” in colloquial British English?

In colloquial British English today you hear "Cheers" (to mean "thank you") more often than "Thanks." Is the choice of one or the other determined by regional, class, or education differences, or is ...
41
votes
7answers
2k views

Which variant of English should I use when my target audience is the world?

I know that all variants of English (American English, British English, etc.) can be generally understood by everybody who knows any of the English variants. However, there are some regionalisms that ...
20
votes
4answers
44k views

What do Americans think of using 'cheers' to sign off an email?

I've suspected before that "Cheers" as an email sign-off is a bit of an English (or possibly Commonwealth) thing, but being English it's natural to me and I use it as the mood takes me to end an ...
11
votes
5answers
16k views

“Have not” versus “do not have”

As a non-native English speaker, I have a little doubt about using, or not, the auxiliary verb "to do" with the verb "to have". Are there differences in meaning between "I have not" and "I do not ...
25
votes
5answers
21k views

Is there a difference between “arse” and “ass”?

From a comment here, in frequent usage, arse and ass are often interchangeable when used to refer to buttocks or to a person of dubious charms. However, although “to arse about” has a vague connection ...
12
votes
6answers
1k views

“Toward” or “towards” – what would a native speaker use?

In this question we learn that toward and towards are interchangeable, but that the former is somewhat more typical of U.S. English and the latter of British English, although there is some indication ...
26
votes
3answers
2k views

Why is “math” always pluralized in British English and singular in American English?

In the U.S. I would study math. In Britain, I would study maths. What gives?
11
votes
5answers
5k views

How to use “you know”

For a non-native speaker like me, I am always wondering how to use you know correctly, as in the following sentence: Alright, well, for example, like on Saturdays, y’know, what I liked to do ...
11
votes
3answers
8k views

Is there any difference between “color” and “colour”?

What is the difference between color and colour?
10
votes
4answers
9k views

“Haven't you?” or “don't you?”

What is the right question tag (in British English) when we use the verb have? I have interviewed a few native speakers and none of them could explain why sometimes they prefer "haven't/hasn't" and ...
15
votes
11answers
7k views

American vs. British English: meaning of “One hundred and fifty”

I've noticed that Americans do not say "and" when speaking numbers: for example, 150 would be pronounced "one hundred fifty". I and most other British-English speakers would pronounce it "one hundred ...
12
votes
7answers
8k views

How do I spell the truncation 'Cas', as in 'Sports Casual/Sports Cas'?

How do I spell the truncation 'Cas', as in 'Sports Casual/Sports Cas'? It may be UK only, and may have been spawned by Alan Partridge. Cash/Cas are not right. *As in a slang term, "he was acting all ...
10
votes
3answers
38k views

What does the phrase “half seven” mean?

I've heard the British term "half seven" (or "half nine," "half five", etc) used to tell time. I can't remember though if it means 6:30 or 7:30 (i.e. half an hour before seven, or half past seven)? ...
10
votes
2answers
2k views

Enquire and inquire

In British English I think these two words have different shades of meaning, but I couldn't articulate them. In American English I see inquire used where I would use "enquire". Are there shades of ...
8
votes
3answers
312 views

“A similar hat to Jane” vs “A hat similar to Jane’s”

Of late I have noticed British people using the following sort of construct: John and Jane make such a cute couple because John always wears a similar hat to Jane. To my ear, that is ...
4
votes
1answer
2k views

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 ...
57
votes
6answers
2k views

How come 'ou' was reduced to 'o' in the US?

Americans write color and favorite, when others say colour and favourite. How/why did this happen?