4th of July Special: 6 Differences Between the US & UK

4th of July

Hey there, and welcome to Speak English with Christina, where you’ll have fun becoming fluent in American English. I’m your English coach Christina, and we’re celebrating Independence Day in the USA.

Today, it’s the 4th of July 4th, the day when the Founding Fathers told the British government “It was fun, but this relationship is finished! Bye bye!” Back in 1776.

We’ve been separate from Great Britain for 241 years now! So to celebrate the United States’ independence from Great Britain, we’ll look at 6 differences between the US and Great Britain.

Let’s go!

And before I forget, be sure to sign up to be a Speak English Ambassador at christinarebuffet.com. I’ll send you a free lesson each week, so you can become independent in English!

Now, the differences…

SORRY

In the US, we say “Sorry” to apologize or react to bad news. “Sorry, I forgot to call you yesterday.” or “Sorry to hear you can’t come to the barbecue.”

They do that in British English, but “Sorry” also means like “Excuse me”. You want someone to move so you can get off the bus in London, you say “Sorry.” If someone bumps into you in the street, YOU say “Sorry.” (And they do to). Americans say “Oh, ‘scuse me.”

SLANG

Depending on what side of the Atlantic you’re on, careful with your slang. For example “bum.” In British, your bum is your butt. In American, a bum is a not-so-nice word for a person who sleeps on the streets.

In British, a fag is a cigarette. In American, “fag” is a derogatory word for homosexual.

And if you tell someone they’re fit, it means you’re hot & sexy in British, but in good health & physical condition in American English. But careful: bum and fag are derogatory and insulting in American English.

TIME

If you say to an American “We have a meeting at 18 hours”, he will think one of 2 things: You were in the military, or You’re not from here.

In the US, we only use 12-hour time: 1 AM, 1 PM, 2 AM, 2PM. Only the military uses 24-hour time. In the UK, though, they often use 24-hour time for transportation timetables and written invitations, and 12-hour time for conversation.

DATES

This is where it gets really confusing. Do you know what day this is?: 7/4/2017.

It depends… If you’re in the USA, 7/4/2017 indicates July 4th, 2017. We write the month first, then the date.

If you’re in the UK, 7/4/2017 indicated the 7th of April, 2017.

Why are they different? Good question. I researched and researched, but didn’t find any information I trusted, so… Just remember, in the US, it’s month-date-year, and in the UK, it’s date-month-year.

FOOTBALL

It wasn’t enough for Americans to create a different country, they also had to create a different sport and give it the same name as the British sport. Even though American football is nothing like British football. Or even football in the rest of the world…

In the USA, football is this (see video for an image).

In Great Britain and the rest of the world, football is this (See video for an image)

But for us Americans, that’s soccer.

LICENSE PLATES

First, the name. In the US, it’s a license plate. In the UK, a number plate.

And while British license plates are the same all over the country, in the US, each state has a different official license plate, and also offers lots of choices for more personalized license plates.

Like, here, my Mississippi license plate has a magnolia on it. It’s the standard Mississippi license plate. But I could have also chosen a license plate with my university, or to show my support for a cause, to show my profession, etc. Because we Americans love our cars, and we love to personalize them!

See some examples of everything in the video lesson:

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

What other differences do you know between the the USA and Great Britain? Language differences, cultural differences, anything! Share your stories in the comments below.

And if you want more US-UK differences, be sure to check out the video “American or British English?”, with Vicki from Simple English Videos.

It’s part of my Tame The Hot Potato Series, to help you understand real, everyday spoken English.

You can also get my free American Accent Survival Kit, a free full lesson, exercise, and test to help you understand Americans when they speak fast. Click here to get the kit. 

So that’s it guys! Happy 4th of July to you! Now it’s time for me to go eat lots of hot dogs and hamburgers!

Thanks for watching and I’ll see you next time!


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anglais américain ou britannique
American slang

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