I'm on an English course - correct ?

Status
Not open for further replies.

angelene001

Member
Joined
Mar 21, 2012
Member Type
Interested in Language
Native Language
Polish
Home Country
Poland
Current Location
Poland
I know that we can say :
- I'm doing an English course
- I'm taking an English course

but can we say:
- I'm on an English course in London ?
 

5jj

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Oct 14, 2010
Member Type
Native Language
British English
Home Country
Czech Republic
Current Location
Czech Republic

billmcd

Key Member
Joined
Mar 27, 2009
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
English
Home Country
United States
Current Location
United States
I know that we can say :
- I'm doing an English course Not usual/likely in AmE.
- I'm taking an English course Most usual/likely in AmE.

but can we say:
- I'm on an English course in London ? Unusual/unlikely in AmE.

b.
 

5jj

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Oct 14, 2010
Member Type
Native Language
British English
Home Country
Czech Republic
Current Location
Czech Republic
All of the possible sentences are acceptable in British English.
 

emsr2d2

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jul 28, 2009
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
British English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
UK
I know that we can say :
- I'm doing an English course
- I'm taking an English course

but can we say:
- I'm on an English course in London ?

I would like to point out that the first two could refer to the present or to the future.

What are you doing this week?
I'm taking an English course.

What are you doing next March?
I'm doing an English course.

The third, to me, is something you would say once you have arrived in London and have already started the course, so I would only use that one to refer to the present.
 

Barb_D

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Mar 12, 2007
Member Type
Other
Native Language
American English
Home Country
United States
Current Location
United States
If a BrE speaker hadn't replied first, I (an American) would have given a firm "No" as a response.
 

Gillnetter

Key Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2010
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
English
Home Country
United States
Current Location
United States
If a BrE speaker hadn't replied first, I (an American) would have given a firm "No" as a response.
"I'm on an English course" would make some sense to me if the subject was about a golf course. Not being a golfer, I don't know if there is such a thing as an English course, or, for that matter, a French or a Chinese course. Another meaning could be that you are discussing an elaborate meal replete with many courses and this particular course was called an English course.
 

HanibalII

Member
Joined
May 9, 2012
Member Type
Student or Learner
Native Language
English
Home Country
Australia
Current Location
Australia
If a BrE speaker hadn't replied first, I (an American) would have given a firm "No" as a response.


I agree with Barb_D. I have never heard 'I'm on an English course in London'. I have heard, and only ever used either 'I am doing an English course' or 'I am taking an English course'.

Original posters first 2 suggestions are fine in my opinion, but that 3rd is very unlikely to be used, and just sounds very un-natural to me. I

 

5jj

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Oct 14, 2010
Member Type
Native Language
British English
Home Country
Czech Republic
Current Location
Czech Republic
Original poster's first 2 suggestions are fine in my opinion, but that 3rd is very unlikely to be used ...
... in your part of the world. As we've said, it's fine in BrE.
 

emsr2d2

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jul 28, 2009
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
British English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
UK
"I'm on an English course" would make some sense to me if the subject was about a golf course. Not being a golfer, I don't know if there is such a thing as an English course, or, for that matter, a French or a Chinese course. Another meaning could be that you are discussing an elaborate meal replete with many courses and this particular course was called an English course.

What do you call a series of classes where you learn a language? I can't think of another term in English except "language course".

- Where is John this week?
- He's on an Italian course in Rome.

- Do you want to learn Spanish?
- Yes. In fact, I've signed up to a Spanish course at my local college.

The only thing I can think of in American English is that you don't have a singular noun for it, but would say "He's taking Italian classes" or something similar. Is that right?
 

riquecohen

VIP Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2010
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
American English
Home Country
United States
Current Location
Brazil
What do you call a series of classes where you learn a language? I can't think of another term in English except "language course".

- Where is John this week?
- He's on an Italian course in Rome.

- Do you want to learn Spanish?
- Yes. In fact, I've signed up to a Spanish course at my local college.

The only thing I can think of in American English is that you don't have a singular noun for it, but would say "He's taking Italian classes" or something similar. Is that right?

"He's taking Itaian classes" works, but more frequently heard woud be "He's taking an Italian course." (AmE)
 

emsr2d2

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jul 28, 2009
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
British English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
UK
"He's taking Itaian classes" works, but more frequently heard woud be "He's taking an Italian course." (AmE)

Ah, so it was only the preposition that was the issue when someone else said that "He's on an English course" wouldn't work in AmE. Thanks.
 

Tdol

Editor, UsingEnglish.com
Staff member
Joined
Nov 13, 2002
Member Type
Native Language
British English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
Japan

Gillnetter

Key Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2010
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
English
Home Country
United States
Current Location
United States
What do you call a series of classes where you learn a language? I can't think of another term in English except "language course".

- Where is John this week?
- He's on an Italian course in Rome.

- Do you want to learn Spanish?
- Yes. In fact, I've signed up to a Spanish course at my local college.

The only thing I can think of in American English is that you don't have a singular noun for it, but would say "He's taking Italian classes" or something similar. Is that right?
The difference between the American and the British version is not about "course", it is about "on" and "up". How does one get "on" a course? A person can get "on" a bus and can get "on" the fast track, but not "on" a class, or course. Would this work in BrE - I've enlisted up to a four year term in the Marines?
 

bhaisahab

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Apr 12, 2008
Member Type
Retired English Teacher
Native Language
British English
Home Country
England
Current Location
Ireland
The difference between the American and the British version is not about "course", it is about "on" and "up". How does one get "on" a course? A person can get "on" a bus and can get "on" the fast track, but not "on" a class, or course. Would this work in BrE - I've enlisted up to a four year term in the Marines?

I think we'd be more likely to say "I've enlisted in the Marines for four years".
 

emsr2d2

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jul 28, 2009
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
British English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
UK
The difference between the American and the British version is not about "course", it is about "on" and "up". How does one get "on" a course? A person can get "on" a bus and can get "on" the fast track, but not "on" a class, or course. Would this work in BrE - I've enlisted up to a four year term in the Marines?

Perhaps this use of "on" is rather unusual but in the UK, one "gets on" a course by going to the website or the college and "signing up" for it. If your application is successful then you are officially "on the course".

We don't use it with "class" but then we don't really use that in the same way as it's used in AmE. Where you say "He's taking Italian classes", we say "He's having Italian lessons".

We don't say "enlisted up", but we do say that we "sign up for/to/as" something.

I've signed up for singing lessons this winter.
I've signed up to volunteer with clearing rubbish off the streets on Sunday morning.
I've signed up as a volunteer at a charity shop.

With the Marines, I think we say "I've enlisted on a four-year term in the Marines" but I'm not knowledgeable about military terminology. It might be "for", not "on". Or something like "I've enlisted in the Marines for a four-year tour".
 
Last edited:

bhaisahab

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Apr 12, 2008
Member Type
Retired English Teacher
Native Language
British English
Home Country
England
Current Location
Ireland
We might also say "I've signed up for four years in the Marines".
 

Barb_D

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Mar 12, 2007
Member Type
Other
Native Language
American English
Home Country
United States
Current Location
United States
I really do believe you!

It's just that before I started learning more about how different our prepositions can be, I would have said "at" the weekend was wrong, living "in" a street was wrong, and being "on" a course was wrong. Now I know that all three are fine, as long as you're not talking to an American. I used to think our differences were mostly vocabulary, some spelling, and that got/gotten thing, but now I know that prepositions can be sneaky about how they work on different continents as well!
 

HanibalII

Member
Joined
May 9, 2012
Member Type
Student or Learner
Native Language
English
Home Country
Australia
Current Location
Australia
I really do believe you!

It's just that before I started learning more about how different our prepositions can be, I would have said "at" the weekend was wrong, living "in" a street was wrong, and being "on" a course was wrong. Now I know that all three are fine, as long as you're not talking to an American. I used to think our differences were mostly vocabulary, some spelling, and that got/gotten thing, but now I know that prepositions can be sneaky about how they work on different continents as well!


For us Australians as well. We would never say at the weekend, always on the weekend. We don't say in a street, but on a street. Atleast I've never heard it used that way in the classroom, and in my classroom with the prac teacher, when the children wrote about what they where going to do or did on the weekend, they would always be told not to write 'at the weekend'.

I don't know. You Americans and Brits are weird. :D
 

Grumpy

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 12, 2009
Member Type
Interested in Language
Native Language
English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
UK
...or "I've joined the Marines on a 4 year commitment." It's that BrE "on" again....
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top