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Difference in English and American English

I've noticed this throughout the whole course, so for the most part I just accept and ignore it. However, I started the 'City 4' course by reading the tips, and it gives a clear distinction of how the words for floors of a house are really different. But in English (England) we also say ground floor, first floor etc. This is the opposite of the tip! I'm not sure what I'm hoping to achieve by sharing this, maybe it's more of a pointless grumble... but English is not the same as American English.

April 15, 2020



Difference in British English and American English

There, I fixed the title for you :). They are pretty good about adding alternative translations if you use the Report Button.


But Duolingo is an American company, which means they teach in American English. Think of it as a learning opportunity, to see what us crazy Yanks do differently from you!


In America we have a mixture of naming schemes and it's very confusing. You're not alone.


British English isn't the same as American English and neither of them are the same as Indian, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, Scottish, Irish or South African English (and probably many others that I've missed as well). There are far too many dialects out there for Duo to be expected to support them all perfectly and it's no surprise that American English gets first preference given it's the largest cohort of English speakers and Duo is an American company. Luckily they still indulge the rest of us by adding some of the more common variations from other dialects as potential translations.


I agree. I personally don't see anything wrong with Duo using American English, although it does bring up the issue, to me, of what people even mean when they say 'American English' because it's so different depending on what State you live in. I guess they must mean what words, generally, Americans use, ie no matter what part of the States you're from, you're going to call it an elevator, not a lift. Still, I struggle with the idea of American English, just like I struggle with the idea of Canadian English...I mean, I'm Canadian, and there's folks way out on the coast - I'm on the prairies - that I can hardly understand at times.

[deactivated user]

    In many (but not all) parts of America, what we in England call the first floor is indeed called the second floor. Duome is an American site - but not all Americans have travelled widely enough in America to recognise that it isn't consistent through all US states, let alone around the rest of the world. If you ever get in a lift (anywhere in the world) and there is 1, 2, 3, etc but no G or equivalent in the lift, or there is a G or equivalent in the local language and then 2, 3, 4 but no 1 - well then, it is easy enough to work out what rule holds with just a little common sense.

    I've travelled widely (and have stayed in hotels in almost every state in the US, and well over sixty other countries) and never been confused for more than a few minutes by this.


    Great comment, Janet! At first I wondered what parts of America did not call the ground floor the first floor, but when you started describing elevator buttons, it came to me. My favorite corporate-choice hotel in Manhattan has a door on an Avenue and a door on a cross-Street. The one on the Avenue used to be the lobby door, and it’s one floor down from the current lobby at the other door. So the elevators have C for Concourse (where the old lobby and current bar/tavern are), L for Lobby (the old 2nd floor), and 3 and up for the rest. I also just now thought about maybe Puerto Rico or the US Virgin Islands (American territories) using the non-American convention.

    Interesting topic. Cheers!

    Timor mortis conturbat me.


    While we are on elevator buttons... Not many people realize that there will be a star next to the button of the floor which has the nearest street exit. I don't know how universal this is, but it is true of every elevator in the US.


    I noticed that too


    Yes, at times what Duo wants me to write in English is not at all how I would say it. In Canada, our English can lean toward British, then French, and sometimes USian, and, of course, we have our own words. Someone must have flagged the word "Color" for us at some point, because it accepts the Canadian "Colour" as correct. I have come across "trousers" (more British) being the English translation, instead if "pants". "Booking something" instead of "making a reservation".... So, I really think it depends on what people have contributed and flagged. Try to find patince with this, and you will do fine. :)


    Was interesting waking up and seeing the replies this morning - good debate! I did not know that thing about the star in lifts, not sure I've even noticed a star before, but I'll look out for it now


    I also have some issues with American English been the default English reference. It would be a relatively minor tweak to offer UK English as an alternative...and replace the relevant different words/phrases.

    I’m currently learning French here and when asked to translate a French phrase (without the word menu below) it sometimes throws out incorrect results (perfect UK English yet not American English),

    Some examples: Subway vs underground Movie theatre vs cinema Store vs Shop Etc

    A minor grumble in an overall satisfied experience with Duolingo!

    Take care J


    If you use the report feature when this happens, they'll usually add these as alternative translations.


    Thanks although I think this will keep me and them pretty busy

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