Although technically all English speakers speak the same language, regardless of their mother country, they don’t always speak it the same way. In some situations the differences are not important, but sometimes they can lead to misunderstanding and funny situations.
Imagine this scenario: You go into a clothing store in London and ask where you can find pants (as this is the word you know describes a piece of clothing that covers the lower part of the body from the waist to the feet). The storekeeper gives you directions but when you get to that part of the shop, all you can see is underware.
Yes, that’s right: in Britain pants are not pants, they are trousers. Which makes pants underwear.
The difference between British English and American English can create confusion amoung English learners, so why not take a look at a few objects which have quite different names in the UK and in the USA.
To make things even clearer , I thought I’d use pictures.
block of flats (B.E) apartment building (A.E)
ring road (B.E) beltway (A.E)
crisps (B.E) potato chips (A.E)
chips (B.E) French fries (A.E)
footway (B.E) sidewalk (A.E)
white coffee (B.E) coffee with cream (A.E)
underground (B.E) subway (A.E)
aubergine (B.E) eggplant (A.E)
zebra crossing (B.E) crosswalk (A.E)
dressing gown (B.E) bathrobe (A.E)
loo (B.E) john (A.E)
lift (B.E) elevator (A.E)
hamper (B.E) basket (A.E) (by the way, the Americans use the hamper for their dirty clothes)
bill (B.E) check (A.E)
shopping trolley (B.E) shopping cart (A.E)
pants (B.E) underwear (A.E)
trousers (B.E) pants (A.E)
Autor: Laura Sîrbu
Laura Sîrbu este absolventă a Facultăţii de Litere din cadrul Universităţii Bucureşti, specializarea Română – Engleză. Tot în cadrul Universităţii, ea a absolvit masteratul „Studii Americane”, organizat la Facultatea de Limbi şi Literaturi Străine.
Laura deţine autorizaţie de traducător pentru limba engleză şi atestatul lingvistic „Cambridge Proficiency Certificate.”