Please help with British English

NinjaTurtle

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I am an American teaching English to Chinese people. I need help understanding British English in order to differentiate between Chinese people making mistakes vs. Chinese people using British English and my misunderstanding this as mistakes. Are there any British English speakers who can help me out?
 

emsr2d2

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Welcome to the forum. :hi:

There are plenty of BrE speakers on the forum. Simply post your specific questions about usage and we will be able to comment on whether what you're hearing from your students is natural BrE or not.
 

Tdol

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Fire away. :eek:nfire:
 

NinjaTurtle

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Hi everybody!

I have a question about "holiday". Do speakers of British English always say "holiday" or do they sometimes say "vacation"?
 

Rover_KE

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Start by clicking here and scrolling down to the fifth entry.

You can read lots of similar threads on the same topic.
 

Tdol

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I have a question about "holiday". Do speakers of British English always say "holiday" or do they sometimes say "vacation"?

We generally say holiday. We are familiar with the term vacation, and may use it occasionally, so it would be hard to say always. However, vacation is, I think, a very minor term for most speakers.
 

jutfrank

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I would say it's close to always.
 

emsr2d2

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I only use "vacation" if I'm speaking to an American. Even then, I would probably only use it if I didn't think the person had had much exposure to BrE and wouldn't know what "I'm going on holiday" or "I'll be there for the school holidays" meant.
 

NinjaTurtle

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Hi everyone!

According to Google, England will have Spring Bank Holiday on May 28th. Let’s say it’s the week before, May 21st. In British English would you say, "We will have a holiday next week"?

Sorry Rover, that link just takes me to a page trying to sell me English lessons.
 

emsr2d2

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I'd say "We've got a bank holiday next week" or "Next Monday's a bank holiday". Even though the name suggests that it's only banks that close that day, it's not - some places observe the holiday and close but most stay open.
If someone said to me "We will have a holiday next week", I would assume they meant they were going on holiday (going on vacation) the following week.

The link that Rover posted works for me. If you scroll down, it should take you to lots of UsingEnglish hits. However, as you're quite new, you might still be getting advertising first.
 

Tdol

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Last edited:

NinjaTurtle

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Thanks, E!

How about if Easter was next week, without a corresponding going-on-holiday? What would you say?

Sorry if it sounds like I’m nick-picking, but these are exactly the kinds of things that confuse my Mainland Chinese students, especially as I make a big point of distinguishing between American and British English. I want them to get it right and approximate native English as much as possible.
 

emsr2d2

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Thanks, Emsr2d2! (I assume "E" meant me! When you mention usernames, please use the whole name.)

How about if Easter was next week, without a corresponding going-on-holiday? What would you say?
I'm not sure what you mean. If I didn't want to mention the word "holiday", I'd just say "It's Easter next week".

Sorry if it sounds like I’m [STRIKE]nick[/STRIKE] nit-picking, but these are exactly the kinds of things that confuse my Mainland Chinese students, especially as I make a big point of distinguishing between American and British English. I want them to get it right and approximate native English as much as possible.

It's not nit-picking exactly but most people survive by simply knowing that it's (usually) "holiday" in BrE and "vacation" in AmE. Also, AmE uses things like "We're going to stay with my parents for the holidays" but BrE would use something like "We're going to stay with my parents for Christmas/Easter".
In all honestly, with things like this, it's hard to get the (near-)native nuances of some phrases without at least living somewhere long-term.
 
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Rover_KE

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Sorry Rover, that link just takes me to a page trying to sell me English lessons.
Did you wait a few seconds to give the page time to load?
 

NinjaTurtle

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Hi everybody!

Does British English prefer a different way to refer to “bathroom”? Is there preferred way to ask, “Where is the bathroom?” in British English?

emsr2d2,

The sentence "We're going to stay with my parents for the holidays" is not British English?

Rover,

The page loads after giving the page time to load, but only gives me these choice:
A link to Gymglish English for paid English lessons
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jutfrank

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Where's the toilet?
 

NinjaTurtle

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jutfrank,

Thanks for the feedback. When Mainland Chinese speak in English, they always use the term WC for toilet, as in, “Where is the WC?” I was wondering if that is British English since it is not American English.

Did “Where is the WC?” used to be common British English but is not anymore?
 

Rover_KE

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Click here to see a rough guide to usage and frequency of terms covering such facilities.

I know you asked about BE, but for an interesting comparison, change the corpus to American English.
 

Tdol

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Bathroom is OK in BrE, though things like toilet are more common. We tend not to use the more euphemistic American terms like restroom.
 

emsr2d2

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emsr2d2,

The sentence "We're going to stay with my parents for the holidays" is not British English?

I wouldn't use it. It's not impossible but we definitely don't use the generic term "holidays" to refer to the days/weeks surrounding a special occasion like Christmas/Easter as much as AmE does.

The exception to that might be the six-week summer school holiday. There is no special occasion involved in that, it's just the annual six-week summer break from school. When I was a child, if I were going to stay, for example, with my grandparents for the whole six weeks, I might have said "I'm going to stay with my grandparents for the [summer] holidays".
 
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