After a long break we are back on the blog! We will be inviting guest bloggers over the next few months, and this month it is our wonderful teacher Rebecca Jackson who has written a great post about the differences between American and British English. She has included some brilliant vocabulary for you to learn too! If you want to study with the best teachers in town, check out our courses HERE, starting from only £5 an hour.
Language learners: raise your virtual hands if you’ve ever felt frustrated by not being able to fully express yourself. Being unable to convey your emotions, attitudes, and desires in the target language can certainly result in feeling defeated. I’ve felt this frustration before while studying Spanish in university and working with children in parts of South America. However, as a native English speaker, I was completely unprepared to feel it in the UK.
As some of my students know, I originally come from the USA. Specifically, I’m from Louisiana, but I’ve come by way of Baltimore, Maryland, where I lived for a few years before moving across the pond. Before arriving to Scotland I had been advised by other expats that had gone before me. I learned quickly that not all accents are the same, and that it was OK to ask for clarification when an accent was too thick for me to understand. I knew not to say “fanny” or “pants” in public. What I hadn’t been told, though, were the different uses of phrasal verbs. While this may seem trivial, it has actually resulted in a few, well, uncomfortable situations.
One of my more embarrassing encounters occurred while at a shop after I had been living in Edinburgh for nearly 2 years. I went to buy some special water-proofing detergent for my raincoat. There was a young guy working the till (20-ish years old), but he didn’t notice me approach the counter. So I asked, politely, “Hi, would you mind ringing me up?”
And he blushed. Like the wide-eyed, pink-cheeked emoji.
So there I was, holding an armful of 3 detergent bottles, and completely confused about what I did wrong. I finally asked, “Is that OK or should I go somewhere else?” To which he replied, “OH! You mean at the till… I thought you were asking me to call you.”
Then I proceeded to out-blush him and make things even more awkward and uncomfortable by saying, “That won’t be necessary.” I don’t think the pink left my cheeks until 15 minutes after leaving the shop.
Now, having lived in Edinburgh for four-ish years, I’ve definitely learned through experiences of trial and error. I’m sure there are still many “British-isms” that I’m unaware of, but, for your enjoyment, I’ve made a wee list of what I consider to be “Very British Phrasal Verbs.”
1) To come by way of: the place between point A and point B.
2) “Across the pond” is a common expression referring to the country across the Atlantic. When used by US English speakers, it typically refers to Great Britain, although it can also refer to other European/African countries.
3) A “thick” accent is another way to say a “strong” accent.
4) This is a special type of soap to use in the washing machine in order to protect your jacket against rain. In my personal experience, it doesn’t actually help that much in Scottish climate.
5)When your arms are holding something and are otherwise not free.
6) To “out-VERB” someone is when you exceed them in the given action. So, to “out-run” someone would be to run faster than them.
Learn vocabulary and expressions while you communicate in English! Please feel free to comment on our posts or ask any questions