Finding America

Me and Tarah

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When I return to the UK after my Stateside expat experience this year, I’m pretty sure I will still be slipping out all the Americanisms I’ve adopted during my three years here. How easy they doth slip from my British tongue.

I give it 2-4 weeks back in Blighty for all this to cease, but I guarantee that I will be saying the following without thinking when I converse with friends and family and in my new job. Here are some examples of what I might say, and I offer my response when I do so….

1. ‘What’s your cell number?’ So sorry, I mean mobile! 

2. ‘I’ve got to get some gas.’ Oops, I mean petrol!

3. ‘Put it in the trunk of the car.’ Yes, I mean boot. Yes, I know.

4. ‘When is garbage day?’ Very sorry, I mean rubbish day!

5. ‘Let me just put the trash out.’ Gosh, oops, yes, again, I mean rubbish.

6. ‘Don’t fall off the sidewalk.’ Forgive me, I mean pavement. And honestly, don’t fall off.

7. ‘Would you like a bag of chips?’ I totally meant to say packet of crisps. Totally did.

8. ‘Would you like fries with that?’ Haha, I know I did mean to say chips. Woops!

9. ‘My car is in the parking lot.’ Oh my, what I mean is car park!

10. ‘I put some soda in my shopping cart.’ Double whammy! I totally just meant fizzy pop in my trolley!

11. ‘Does your kid want jello for dessert?’ Sorry, let me say that again. Would your child like jelly for pudding?

12. ‘Watch out for that truck on the highway!’ Oops, I hope I didn’t distract you with my Americanisms, I meant ‘Watch out for that lorry on the motorway!’

13. ‘I totally hate wearing pants.’ Oh, hahaha! I mean trousers. I really do mean that, too.

14. ‘Do put a sweater on if you’re cold.’ Or a jumper, of course. Whatever.

15. ‘I love your sneakers!’ Doh, I mean trainers, I do!

16. ‘I must get an eraser for Harry’s pencil case.’ Oh, I mean rubber! At last I can say rubber again without anyone sniggering!

17. ‘I think I’m going to love my new co-workers.’ Ha! I mean colleagues. Bless them.

18. ‘What time do the kids have recess?’ I mean playtime, yes, playtime, just like the good old days!

19. ‘Splitting headache, must nip to the drugstore.’ Actually, yes, I do mean the chemist. Correct.

20. ‘Halloween candy anyone?’ Oh right, yes, we don’t do Halloween in the UK and yes, it’s sweets, I know.

21. ‘I’m just knocking something up with the old eggplant and zucchini.’ Splutter, sorry, you probably wonder what I’m feeding you. Naturally it’s just the old aubergine and courgette veggies.

22. ‘Hey, would you like a popsicle in the yard?’ Woa, double whammy again! Ice lolly in the garden. Phew!

23. ‘Can I get the check?’ Oops a daisy! So sorry. May I have the bill, please.

24. ‘When are you playing soccer?’ Aha, it’s fine to say football. Yey!

25. ‘Take the elevator to the first floor.’ WTF? I mean take the lift to the second floor. Go figure! Argh! I mean ‘work that one out’!

26. ‘I’m good.’ Woaaaaa! I mean I’m well / fine, thank you. 

27. ‘ROADTRIP!’ Oh, yes, it is just a car journey, you’re right.

I apologise in advance for all this to my British buddies – oops, there I go again - I mean chums! ;)

About the author: I'm Claire and I'm a British housewife writing about American bits and bobs. I've lived in Columbia, Maryland for 18 months and I like to write about all the things that confuse, amuse and bemuse me about being in the USA. I like to observe and compare our quirky traits, personalities and oddities because there are many and they are endlessly fascinating. From breaking into mailboxes, to choosing the Spanish option at the checkouts; from polarised poverty and wealth, to getting my head round guns and the glamour of politics; from my mission to crush stink bugs, to the American obsession with pulled pork; and from the wonder that is the PTA, to American attitudes to nudity - I write about it all! You can find my blog at


  1. Love love love this! "Knocking something up "? Whoa! That sounds like a fun dinner party...😉 haha

  2. #19 we don't say 'nip' in the US, and #21 we don't say 'knocking up' unless you got someone pregnant, hahaha. Otherwise, totally brill!

  3. Shauna, that is something to think about!
    Pama - this is my British/American hybrid English coming into play - that's how I speak now in the USA!

  4. I'm three years back and still say "bathroom", because "loo" sounds a bit rude now (though I said it for 40 years without thinking so before I went to America).

  5. Yes Iota - I shall further annoy my chums with 'bathroom' (It annoys my father v much!) ;)

  6. I spent almost six weeks in the UK over the past six months, and I still haven't shaken bin, crisps, chips, rubbish, trainers, motorway, loo, loo roll, mum, sweets, rocket, torch, and Sorry.

    *American who wishes she were British*

  7. Halloween is celebrated now and they do hand out candy .

  8. I smiled the whole time I was reading. I lived in the UK for a few years with my husband who is from Scotland and now we live in the US. We both use all of these terms so interchangeably that I forget which is British and which is American most of the time.

  9. I think you've got the elevator one mixed up....shouldn't the American version be: "Take the elevator to the second floor." and the British version be "Take the lift to the first floor"???? Because for Americans it's first floor/ground floor (they're the same thing), second floor, third floor, etc. and for Brits isn't it ground floor, first floor, second floor...?

  10. I gotta say, as an American I find the word "crisps" extremely difficult to pronounce. It's an "ssss" sound interrupted by a "puh" sound, just to resume the "ssss" sound. The words "crisp" and "crispy" are no problem though. Is it just me? I mean is it a coincidence that the cereal is called "Cookie Crisp" and not "Cookie Crisps" (Yes, 90's kid)?

    Lol, Sorry.


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