England and America are two countries divided by a common language.
That’s a quote by a writer named George Bernard Shaw, who is ironically an Irishman. And while I as an American would say that the writer ‘is named George Bernard Shaw’, my British Bretheren would say that he is ‘called George Bernard Shaw’.
That’s a little difference of course, but sometimes these small differences add up. Let’s review a few transatlantic details, and while keeping in mind that Britain and America are great friends of course, and the Americans couldn’t have been colonized by a cooler Empire.
Feeling sick? In New York, you’d go to the hospital, In London, you’d be in hospital.
Got to get to the 14th floor? President Obama would take the elevator, while the Queen would take the lift.
Let’s talk cars: I keep the engine under the hood, and my spare tire in the trunk, meanwhile the English keep their motors under the bonnet, and their spare tyre, with a ‘y’, in the boot.
America’s highways are filled with trucks, England’s motorways are filled with lorries.
My mom gets upset if I don’t call her on the phone, while my cousin’s mum gets upset when he doesn’t ring her.
My US friends are pals or buddies, though I have a couple of mates in England.
When I’m on vacation, I rent a car, but when on holiday in the English countryside, you hire one.
When I’m back home, I stay in my apartment, while my English friends stay at a flat.
Clothes shopping? For me, suspenders hold up my pants (or trousers). In the UK they’re a piece of sexy lingerie to hold up a lady’s stockings.
Have a baby? Americans will push that kid around in a stroller, while the English get literal and use a ‘push chair’…
Just some of the little differences between two versions of the same language, but this is more than just a tomato / tomato situation.
Learn more about US and UK English (including all the accents) with our online English course Gymglish.