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La Liseuse
Please be aware that the way you might say something may not be the only possible way!

Has anybody else noticed how often italki members, especially Europeans, are told that they have learned 'incorrect' English? Over recent days and weeks, I've come across instances where people have written the following:

at the weekend

in hospital

on holiday

I'd love you to come

take a decision

I learnt

All of the above forms are correct British English, and most are used everywhere that English is spoken outside North America. These forms are also widely taught throughout Europe, as well in as many other parts of the world. But in each case, an American member told the learner that they were wrong, and converted them into American English as follows:

on the weekend

in the hospital

on vacation

I'd love for you to come

make a decision

I learned

In the last instance, the member even informed the OP that '"Learnt" is a word that people in the South (USA) would use for past tense of "to learn". Generally, only the uneducated people would use this form.', thereby managing to insult several large groups of people simultaneously.


Now, I realise that not everyone can be aware of all the variations within a language. But is it really so hard to check? If I see a usage that looks unusual, I'll check. I'll google it, or check on a grammar site to see whether it's an acceptable variant. I'm aware that the English that I speak may not be the same as the English spoken elsewhere, and I'm always willing to learn something new. So, please, fellow English speakers wherever you are, don't presume that something is automatically wrong just because it's not the same as how you'd say it! It only takes a few moments to check whether something is really wrong or just, well... a bit different.



Jul 8, 2016 12:04 PM
Comments · 33

American entertainment culture is so pervasive that the rest of the Anglosphere has a lot more exposure to American expressions than vice versa.  But even so, I've never lived in the USA, and I have occasionally missed American usages (and also learned some here).  I wrongly corrected someone here who wrote "door prize" once, as it sounded bizarre.  

It may be too much to expect that people will routinely Google apparently strange usages of English by a non-native that they are not familiar with. I think we just have to help each other, pitch in if someone has missed something, and accept that we might get small things wrong sometimes.

July 8, 2016

Thanks for bringing this issue up. I think the heart of the matter is that modern technology, instead of making people more aware of the richness of their language and the diversity of the world, is actually having the opposite effect. When I was a kid, we used to read books for pleasure. I don’t mean the latest paperback — I mean literature that people all over the world read with no thought as to the author’s country of origin. Often, such works were translated into multiple languages, and the preparation of such translations was itself a work of art. By reading, people naturally became familiar with the wonderful possibilities of the language for self expression. If you needed to put pen to paper in order to communicate with a friend, you actually put some thought into what you wanted to say.

Let’s contrast that with the situation today, where everyone wants to speak, but no one wants to listen. Reading seems to be much more focused on hastily skimming the Facebook and twitter posts that hundreds of “friends” have hastily written in their own desperate bid for attention. Who are these great literary geniuses on our friends lists? I’m not sure, but if any of them gets too creative, there’s always the “delete / block” function. Why risk reading anything we might actually learn from, when we’re in such a hurry to do what we really love — posting our own inevitably incredibly brilliant replies….

July 8, 2016

As a Canadian, we learn and use both British and American English.

We consider both to be correct.

I often write comments on italki, and I often include both spellings (for the benefit of English language learners).

I have no problem writing and accepting "recognise/recognize, analyse/analyze, colour/color, etc."

Furthermore, it troubles me not to use "on the weekend, ie., on the two days that make up the weekend" and "at the weekend, i.e., at the end of the (work) week."


In my opinion, no one is in a position to say that one English is better or worse than the other.

SuKi is widely recognised/recognized by italki members as one of the most qualified contributors to this website. Moreover, she has selflessly helped an uncountable number of English learners.


John, nothing in SuKi's OP slighted anyone, so her comments should not be taken personally.

It behooves us all to conduct ourselves in a polite, respectful manner, i.e., civilly.

July 8, 2016

I'm American, but I agree completely!  That's why when I'm answering a question on italki, I always try to add a note that I am speaking from an American point of view and about American English, but that the same phrase may be proper English in the UK, Australia, etc.  I figure non-US English speakers will jump in and clarify if it's proper European English or not. 

I'm lucky in that I am used to how Brits speak as I worked for BBC America for a while (the office staff was half British), dated an English guy for a while, and happen to love watching a lot of British shows.  So, I know that you use "holiday" instead of "vacation" and don't say "THE hospital".  Unfortunately, many Americans either aren't aware of the differences or don't stop to think that someone may be learning British English instead of American English. 

 I think it would really help the English learners on here if those who are answering questions and editing notebooks specified if they're approaching edits from an American, Canadian, British, Australian, etc. point of view.  That way, the students are aware that although that may be the way it's said in America, it could be different in Australia.  Or conversely, students could add that they're looking specifically for the British or American way to say something, based on what they're learning in their studies. 

Just my 2 cents! :) 

July 8, 2016

Mmm.... i think that my teacher needs to read this article :/

July 8, 2016
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