Play Quiz – British and American English vol 1 6 years ago9 Commentsby Macmillan Dictionary Views: 26,117 Written by Macmillan Dictionary Test your knowledge of the subtle differences between the British and American English Dictionary.
I don’t know where you sourced your information for this quiz, but in my dialect of American English, one is far more likely to give someone a lift than a ride. If you give someone a lift, the destination is the important thing. If you give someone a ride, the ride itself is the object of the activity.
Hi Drew, and thanks for your interesting comment. The source for the quiz was the information provided by our dictionaries.
The American version of Macmillan Dictionary, which was compiled and edited by native US speakers and based on corpus analysis, says at ‘lift’: a ride in someone’s car, with ‘ride’ being defined as “a free trip that you are given in someone’s vehicle. The usual British word is lift.” The British entries mirror this and as a British speaker I can say that our impression generally is that while UK preference is for ‘lift’, US speakers use this less, preferring ‘ride’. So it’s interesting to learn that the situation is not so clearcut as we believed.
It will take me some time to analyse the corpus data, but in the meantime thank you for flagging this up as an issue we may need to look at again.
Do any other blog readers who speak one or other variety have a comment on this?
As an American living in the UK/Ireland, I have to be careful to call it a lift rather than a ride, which means something altogether different — and rude — in Ireland to what it means in the US.
In my 60+ years of speaking and or teaching American English, I think ride is more likely to be used by most people rather than lift. I also don’t think that a destination or lack of one has any bearing on the use of ride or lift. I would use ride in both situations: Can i give you a ride to the library? or Let’s go for a ride. I do realize there may be some regional exceptions so it might be interesting to know what region the original poster is from. I reside in the western part of the US and I know I’d get a weird look if I offered someone a lift. Anyway, my vote goes to the dictionary folks. 🙂
In the Deep South, someone might offer to “carry you” meaning I’ll take you there, probably a remnant from conveying Goods and people in a carriage. Just a tidbit of Southernism!
Kat, would a British person say tidbit or titbit?
British English tends to use titbit while US English uses tidbit. You can see the relevant entries here and here. The OED gives tidbit as the earlier spelling, commenting that it is “now chiefly N. Amer.”
so where’s the quiz. all i see is a big white square. in fact, every quiz is like that. as regards to lift vs ride? there’s really no difference. i’ve personally heard both being used for the same action. honestly it all depends on what part of the states you’re from.
Drew may be right about his personal experience, but that doesn’t change the reality that “lift” is primarily used in British English in a manner that “ride” would be used in US English. The real question Drew should be asking is why he speaks with a British English dialect.