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How to understand American terms



If at school you learned "ordinary English", that is, British, then, having arrived in America, you can get into trouble. The British and Americans speak the same language but use it in different ways. American is often different from the classic British version, and if you need to understand American English and slang, this article is for you!

Study these terms for when you are on the move:

  • Trunk is the trunk of a car.
  • Hood is the hood.
  • Traffic circle (roundabout) - "roundabout". Some Americans may use the word roundabout as well. In the northeast, this is sometimes called rotary.
  • Traffic light colors are red (red), green (green) and yellow (yellow, not amber).
  • Amber alert is an announcement on radio, TV and electronic road signs that inform the public that a child has just been reported missing (along with any relevant details such as a physical description of the child, the make and color of the car in which the last once seen).
  • Truck is a truck.
  • Sidewalk is a sidewalk. Pavement (sidewalk) usually refers to the street.
  • Gasoline or gas is gasoline.
  • Airplane - Used instead of an aeroplane.

In order not to be in a difficult situation, consider these differences:

  • Bathroom, restroom or washroom are used to name the toilet, although washrooms are not common. Bathroom (bathroom) is the most common word; restroom is intended for a decent company, people you don’t know well when you are in a restaurant, etc. Going to the bathroom is the most common phrase. Children (usually under the age of 8) say 'Use the potty' (use the pot) or 'Go potty' (go to the pot).
  • Restroom - Always used in public places. Bathroom usually means there is also a bathtub, but this applies to a public toilet. Washroom (washroom) can be related to both.
  • Eraser - eraser. Most Americans think of rubber as a condom, so this is important. Most Americans say condom, so if someone says rubber it might be a reference to a condom. This can sometimes refer to rubber shoes worn over shoes as protection in wet weather. It may be better to simply limit the use of the word to others - a resilient tree-grown substance.

Learn different terms for parts of a building:

  • First floor is the basement floor.
  • Second floor is the first floor.
  • Elevator is an elevator.
  • Apartment is a common word for an apartment.

Use these terms when it comes to clothing:

  • Pants are pants. American trousers usually refer to elegant or formal trousers.
  • Panties - women's underwear; underwear refers to either women's or men's underwear. Loose underwear is called boxers. Tighter knits are called briefs if they don't stretch below the top of the thigh. Then they are boxer briefs if they end at mid-thigh.
  • Long underwear (long underwear or pants) - can be worn by both men and women; and it is worn over regular underwear to keep it warm.
  • Sneakers or tennis shoes are sports shoes. Trainers, or personal trainers, are typically personal fitness trainers or sports trainers (sports-related medical professionals who focus on injury / disease prevention / assessment and and emergency medicine).

Know that some foods have American names:

  • French fries (French fries or simply fries) are sliced ​​and fried potatoes.
  • Chips are crisps.
  • Cookies are cookies.
  • Biscuit is a small piece of soft bread.

Even throwing garbage, you have to look into the dictionary:

  • Garbage or trash is garbage. Garbage often refers to kitchen waste, while trash can refer to paper or other waste.
  • Garbage goes to trash can or garbage can. In any case, it is acceptable to omit the word can (put it in the trash - just throw it in the trash).
  • Sometimes the bin is called a circular file, especially in a humorous context.
  • People sometimes say throwing something out as having “eighty-sixed” ”(to throw something out, as if to throw it out). What did Jim do with the old Smith file? He 86'ed it. (What did Jim do with the old Smith file? He threw it out.) What should I do with this form? Eighty-six it. (What to do with this form? Throw it out).
  • Garbage bag (garbage bag) or trash bag (garbage bag) - container bag.
  • Dumpster (basket) is a colloquial term for a large trash bin or dust bin.
  • Dump (dump) - a dump site.

And finally, learn these terms that can lead to confusion:

  • A baby stroller or baby buggy is a stroller (Baby stroller or simply stroller is the most common name).
  • Vacation is a vacation or a trip to get out of ordinary life. This is very important because the American word holiday only means a special day like Christmas or Thanksgiving. Americans say they are going on (a) vacation if they are actually going somewhere. They never say that they are going on holiday. We can say that they have a certain free time from work. For example, 'Do you have the holiday off? Thanksgiving? Yes, I do have it off ”(Do you have a day off? Thanksgiving? Yes, I have a day off). If you have a week off from work, but you are not going anywhere, and instead stay at home and relax near home, you are nevertheless on vacation.
  • Flashlight is a pocket flashlight.
  • Dish detergent is a washing-up liquid or liquid or powder to wash dishes (dishwashing liquid or liquid / powder for washing dishes).
  • Next ___day is the next ___ day (for example: we are going on vacation next Thursday).
  • When Americans say football, they certainly mean American football. Soccer is used to describe what most people in the world know like football.

See also:

How to learn English for free or almost for free

How to get rid of accent in English

Learn English by song

25 ways to improve your own spoken English


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