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  1. #1
    Nightmare85's Avatar
    Nightmare85 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Student and pupil

    Hello guys,
    I always thought we used pupil to describe the kids who are in school.
    It seems this is okay for British English.
    In American English I see the word student more and more.
    (Calling an 8 year old boy student makes me think this.)

    How do Americans call real students?
    Collegians?

    But the problem is, I have absolutely no idea about the American school system at all.
    I only learned the British school system

    Okay, I've just checked my dictionary.
    1. elementary school
    2. regular school
    3. academic high school
    4. studies/college
    Is this order right?
    (They should be able to skip 2.)

    And they call all guys who belong to 1, 2, and 3 students?
    And all guys who belong to 4. are collegians?

    Cheers!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Student and pupil

    Hmm, I'm glad to see your inquiring about the American school system. Perhaps the word pupil is used more frequently in Europe to describe children that are in school. I'm not certain.

    Typically, it's structured this way (names are adjacent):

    1. Elementary - elementary students
    2. Middle School - middle school students
    3. High School - high school students
    4. College - college students

    Pretty simple. Common, everyday English doesn't use too many sophisticated terms to classify one's education level.

    There are terms such as secondary and post secondary that can be associated with two of these tiers. Secondary is often another way of saying high school. Post secondary is a term referring to those at the university level.

    In general, you refer to everyone enrolled in school as a student. You COULD refer to college students as collegians, but professional organizations tend to use this word more so than the average American citizen.

  3. #3
    Ouisch's Avatar
    Ouisch is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Student and pupil

    Quote Originally Posted by Editors4Writers View Post
    Hmm, I'm glad to see your inquiring about the American school system.

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but since you list your occupation as an English teacher I feel it my duty to point out that the above sentence should properly read either "I'm glad to see you're inquiring about the American school system" or "I'm glad to see your inquiry about the American school system."

    To the original poster, "pupil" is certainly correct and its meaning would be recognized by any native speaker, but for some reason in the US the word seems very outdated and old-fashioned. "Student" is far more commonly used, whether the pupils are of primary school age or are adults taking continuing education classes at night.


    (Perhaps the use of "pupil" eventually fell out of favor due to an old joke: "Did you hear about the cross-eyed teacher? She couldn't keep her pupils straight!")

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Student and pupil

    While we're on the subject, another apparently unique Americanism is to refer to college, university, and even medical school as "school."

    I have apparently insulted people by asking "Where do you go to school" and been told with great indignation that they attend university, not school. In the US, it applies to everything.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    Default Re: Student and pupil

    Quote Originally Posted by Ouisch View Post
    Not to put too fine a point on it, but since you list your occupation as an English teacher I feel it my duty to point out that the above sentence should properly read either "I'm glad to see you're inquiring about the American school system" or "I'm glad to see your inquiry about the American school system."

    To the original poster, "pupil" is certainly correct and its meaning would be recognized by any native speaker, but for some reason in the US the word seems very outdated and old-fashioned. "Student" is far more commonly used, whether the pupils are of primary school age or are adults taking continuing education classes at night.


    (Perhaps the use of "pupil" eventually fell out of favor due to an old joke: "Did you hear about the cross-eyed teacher? She couldn't keep her pupils straight!")
    haha, thank you. A slight mishap. I've been writing a number of posts today, so perhaps I'm faltering a bit. By the way, you're missing several commas in yours. :P

  6. #6
    bertietheblue is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Student and pupil

    Quote Originally Posted by Editors4Writers View Post
    haha, thank you. A slight mishap. I've been writing a number of posts today, so perhaps I'm faltering a bit. By the way, you're missing several commas in yours. :P
    Well, join the club! A couple of weeks ago, I faltered from the off and wrote 'their' instead of 'they're' in a post. Luckily, I proofread it before I posted; otherwise someone would doubtless have made me look a fool.

    Yeah, thank goodness I'm a proofreader! Mind you, I'll doubtless let slip a your/their/its when I mean you're/they're/it's sometime soon. But heck, I proofread all day so don't want to be proofreading all night as well. So, apologies in advance!

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    Default Re: Student and pupil

    Quote Originally Posted by bertietheblue View Post
    Well, join the club! A couple of weeks ago, I faltered from the off and wrote 'their' instead of 'they're' in a post. Luckily, I proofread it before I posted; otherwise someone would doubtless have made me look a fool.

    Yeah, thank goodness I'm a proofreader! Mind you, I'll doubtless let slip a your/their/its when I mean you're/they're/it's sometime soon. But heck, I proofread all day so don't want to be proofreading all night as well. So, apologies in advance!
    Agreed.

  8. #8
    Ouisch's Avatar
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    Default Re: Student and pupil

    Quote Originally Posted by Editors4Writers View Post
    haha, thank you. A slight mishap. I've been writing a number of posts today, so perhaps I'm faltering a bit. By the way, you're missing several commas in yours. :P

    Believe me, I feel the pain of not inserting commas where I've been taught to put them....I currently work as an editor/writer for a national periodical, and their style guide is so vastly contrary to my oh-so-20th century education... Well, it makes me feel positively archaic. But I've reflexively become accustomed to abiding by it, even when it sets my teeth on edge. (Mind you, my bosses are all twenty-something graduates of Duke University, so any time I protest, say, that the proper past tense of "sneak" is "sneaked" and not "snuck" I am soundly throunced for being the unenlightened fossil that I apparently am.)

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    Default Re: Student and pupil

    haha, don't be so hard on yourself! Sneak and snuck are precarious little buggers. Fortunately, snuck is permissible in colloquial speech.

    Everything should be fine as long as your Duke counterparts are respectful. Personally, I enjoy learning different styles and techniques; it prevents the wheels in my brain from rusting.

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