Grey or gray?

I was googling “how to study for the FSOT” and found a blog post that suggested listening to Grammar Girl podcasts to brush up on one’s correct usage of English grammar. And as much as a podcast on grammar sounds like the most exciting thing to listen to in the world, I thought I’d give it a try. I can’t get over how much Emma loves podcasts, and figured maybe I should try it, while also “studying” for an exam.

The first episode of Grammar Girl that I listened to made me want to laugh and cringe at the same time. Why? Because I actually liked it and found it entertaining.

She was focusing on the differences between American and British English. God only knows that I will probably be forever enthralled with the differences between the two, and listening to a podcast about them reminded me just how much fun I have trying to understand where, why, and how these two ways of speaking came to be.  Don’t even get me started about trying to pick out the differences within American and British dialects, let alone Canadian, Scottish, Irish, Australian, and New Zealandish (that’s a word, right?). From the strange colloquialisms to the nit picky syntax rules, I love learning about English variants. So here are my favorite nerdy fun facts that you could have gone the rest of your life without knowing:

  1. When discussing band, company, or team names Brits tend to use plural language, and Americans use singular.
    • ex: Nirvana kill hair metal vs Nirvana kills hair metal
  2. When quoting something, Americans always keep periods and commas inside the quotation marks, whereas Brits will leave it up to stylistic nuance depending on the meaning of the sentence.
  3. CONtroversy, parking lot, and swimsuit in American become conTRAvesy, car park, and swimming costume in British.
  4. Cotton candy or candy floss?
  5. I can’t get enough of British slang. It is hilarious, confusing, and frustrating that sometimes I can’t understand it.
    • a real bender: an extended period of time in which you drink and make poor life choices
    • get rinsed: to be defeated comprehensively,  get creamed
    • steaming/pissed: drunk
    • I’m feeling pretty pants: I’m not feeling well

Giggling at this podcast and my resonance with it reminded me of all the playful arguments I’ve had with British people about spelling and pronunciation, and also reminded me of the first British person I ever encountered: my 3rd grade teacher Mrs. Atkinson. She had a sharp dry sense of humor, and was the epitome of a grammar Nazi.

It doesn’t help that lately I’ve been dreaming of living in London. Two Februaries ago while visiting for the weekend, I swore that one day I would move there and live in an expensive high rise overlooking Big Ben and the Thames as a freshly minted impoverished university graduate.

But now I must get out of my head, and back to hesitantly studying for this FSOT. Which by the way, I will be taking in two weeks…in London



  1. I absolutely loved my time in England. I can see why you might want to live there. I loved having Anglican churches everywhere, free museums and healthy inexpensive food. Everything is “quaint. “


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