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8 Comments

  • This kind of distinction in the use some words related to the place in which we live is quite (in the American meaning) important to me since it hepls me answer some of my student’s (in the American use of the word) questions about these words. So it makes things clearer. Thank you for that.

  • It always saddens me that Americans have problems accepting the language that they speak; American! English is by now a very different language, and I know, because I am fluent in both. Even Linguaphone recognises American as a separate language from English. American, or American-English if you insist, may be considered English Light; often referred to as ‘Dumbed down English’ having changed spellings and vocabulary out of convenience, without considering the reason for the English word or its spelling or grammatical usage. Truthfully, if it wasn’t for Bill Gates making American the default language on the Internet, you would all struggle to be English users! I personally have no issue with the language spoken in America and other countries. However, it is no more ‘English’ than Irish-English, Pidgin-English or Dutch-English for that matter! So, don’t be shy; be a proud American speaker, and release those of us who speak English as their Mother tongue to ownership of our language too. 🙂

  • As a native American I haven’t had much exposure, let alone any organized study of British English. I was told by a British English maven that it is perfectly permissible in BE to not differentiate between the singular and the plural when using a collective noun, as in “team” or “teams.” He offered no further explanation – in fact his response was delivered curtly so I decided to not question him further. It is certainly necessary to differentiate between the singular and the plural somehow; consequently, the BE speaker and hearer must rely totally on sufficient context to do so. If so, it is perhaps usually possible, but it seems to this American to be far less helpful to accurate communication than our way of doing it. . .

  • The observations about British usage of “college”/”student” seem to me to be a little outdated.

    When I went to university in the late 70s, we spoke of “going to university” or, equivalently, to “college”; and a student was taken to mean a university student.

    By the time my children went to university, the primary meaning of “college” had shifted to be “sixth form college” (or Further Education college): already at age 14/15 (around ten years ago), the talk was of which of their friends were going to “college”, i.e. to stay in education after GCSEs.

    Every child or young adult in education from high school upward (age 11 onward) is now routinely referred to as a student, though the term remains in use for university students, and in phrases such as “student loans”, “student accommodation”, where the practical context is unambiguous, it is still clearly understood to refer to university students.

  • Thanks for this great article! However, I found a spelling mistake: the word “bacherlor” in “American speakers often use graduate student to refer to someone who has finished their bacherlor’s degree” should be “bachelor”. Thanks for your attention!