5 Things British People Say that Drive Me Crazy!

There’s a few things British people say that really make me shake my head as an American expat living in London. I am not referring to the general words that are nearly common knowledge for their other names now on both sides of the pond. They have been posted and documented to death:

– French Fries vs Chips
– Band Aids vs. Plasters
– Elevator vs. Lift
– Apartment vs. Flat
– Baby Stroller vs. Pram
– blah, blah, blah, blah…

No. It’s not those issues words that make my skin crawl.

Don’t get me wrong. I love living in London. My husband is British, and I love him too. However, in the time that I have lived in London, there’s a few things British people say that make me go crazy when I hear them. Every. Single. Time.

In fact, let’s start with that.

things-british-people-say-drive-me-crazy

1. Things British People Say- ‘Mental’

Instead of saying ‘go crazy’, people in England say ‘mental’. For example, a British person would say, ‘The traffic is mental’ or ‘My schedule is mental.’ Oh yeah, and they’d probably say it like ‘shhhhedule’ also. But that’s a completely separate blog post. 😉

To me, the term sounds awkward and very harsh on my American ears. It’s just plain crazy.

2. Things British People Say- ‘You Alright?’

I swear the first few months I lived here I was constantly paranoid about how I looked. Every time I saw someone that I either already knew or had just met, he or she said, ”You alright?’ It sounds like this: ‘Y’awwwwwwwroyt.’

Yep. One big long strangely exaggerated syllable. Y’all sound silly.

When my husband would introduce me to his mates friends at a pub, I felt I had something on my face or had a weird rash on my neck that everyone was curious about.

Why wouldn’t I be alright? What was wrong with me that I didn’t know or see?

After a month or two I realized this greeting is best equated to, ‘Hey, what’s up?’ in America. When we ask this, we don’t really want an answer from the person. It’s more like we’re just saying ‘Yo!’ with a head nod.

That’s not to be confused with ‘YOLO’, which is wildly annoying on both sides of the pond.

3. Things British People Say- ‘But’

Once you accomplish getting a British person to engage in a conversation with you that’s not about the weather, there’s the inevitable ‘but’.

I have no issues with the word. Obviously. But- the way it’s said presents never ending torture for me. It seems to be more peculiar to certain accents in England, but Londoners manage to turn it in to what feels like four syllables and 35 solid seconds of noise. ‘Buuuuuu-uhhhhhhh-uuuuuu-tttt.’

Anyhowwwwwww….things-british-people-say-drive-me-crazy

4. Things British People Say- ‘Gym Kit’

What in Sam hell is a gym kit? Each time I hear a Brit call a gym bag and its contents a ‘gym kit’ I want to stay away from a fitness centre. It sounds too much like a ‘medical kit’ to me, AKA first aid supplies.

Is it common to do CPR at a gym in England? Do they carry around portable difibileators in their ‘kits’? Perhaps they have a stash of Bengay and paracetamol Tylenol in the bag? Antiseptic? Who knows. It’s such a verbal exercise on my ears.

5. Things British People Say- ‘It’s Not an Issue’ and ‘It’s Quite Simple, Really’

These two phrases seem to get tossed around together in conversations with British people. Foremost, when I ask a question, many times the response begins with ‘It’s not an issue.’

Hmmmm.

Does this translate to ‘don’t be so overly American-dramatic about the situation?’ What exactly is an issue?

Then, a few minutes later when the answer is addressed, the response closes with ‘It’s quite simple, really.’

Oh. ok. If it’s that simple, a small yes or no will do. Why the sideways finish?

I could really keep ‘going on about’ the things British people say that drive me mental crazy, but it may be best to take a full stop here.things-british-people-say-drive-me-crazy

Things British People Say- Disclaimer

I hope that anyone British who reads this (Sorry) blog post realises the intent is fun. Sorry. I really do love your accents and idiosyncrasies. Sorry. Please add your (sorry) comments and thoughts below. Aaaaaaaand… definitely  don’t hesitate to add what (sorry) things Americans say that drive you crazy. Buuuuut, do so tactfully, Sunny mates friends.

Sorry.

 

The Sunny News YouTube channel has a playlist full of videos comparing life in the UK vs USA. Some of the topics include differences on: television options, grocery store and food shopping, schoolscultural exchanges, and choosing a hotel in London. The most popular video is below. And it sure has some interesting comments!

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20 Comments

  1. Great to read your insight Sunny, always interesting to get the American perspective on our Britishness 🙂

    I must admit I have an incredibly long list of Americanisms which drive me nuts. I’ve been holding off writing the article for about 2 years because I think it is vital that I get the tone of the article correct, not easy believe me!

    Scchhhhedule as you put it, yes that’s because we don’t have a “k” in there. Are your friends maybe emphasising the difference in how we pronounce the same word as a little tease for you? Don’t worry though I won’t make an issue out of it 😉

    Anyways (-another Americanism which annoys me, why put an “s” on the end when “anyway” will do) must be off.

    Brilliant post luv.

    1. I’m so glad you read it and commented! I’ve had it drafted for 2 months but was concerned about tone and reception. I did try to take a few stabs at what I think are ‘Americanisms’ to be fair 😉 Have to admit, I’m one of those ‘anyways’ people so that insight made me laugh! Really, really happy you read it. And I did absolutely anticipate a ‘boomerang’ to it for my homeland idiosyncrasies. Thank you so much for keeping it tactful and fun!!! Cheers!

  2. Bahahahaha I feel the same way about some Irish phrases. And to be honest, a lot of them are the same! Like KIT (ridick!) and Y’alright? Or sometimes people here say You Okay? when they’re asking if you are ready to pay or if you are waiting to talk. It drives me nuts when at work people ask for the next customer by saying You Okay? It makes NO sense!

  3. I don’t understand why they say Los angeleeeeees, or Les Vegas.
    OR why is it Barkshire when you clearly spell it Burkshire????? Wassup with that?

    1. Hi Jaklien! Thank you for reading. I have no idea 😉 Really happy everyone received the post as fun spirited though and hope to see you soon!

  4. I’m guilty on 4 counts – everything apart from #3. Thankfully, your article is not an issue for me, as I am able to take it in the fun spirit in which it was intended 😉

    I second the person who commented on the use of ‘anyways’, why add extra letters? Also, I hate the expression ‘Y’all’ and cringed at your usage of it in the article. Another phrase I hate is when people say ‘my bad’ as an apology. I don’t know if it’s an Americanism or not, but it makes no sense.

    Great article, thank you for making me smile on a rainy Monday morning.

    1. Hello! Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I agree the ‘anyways’ is ridiculous, even though I am guilty. I tossed in the ‘y’all’ to be fair and try to playfully acknowledge Americanisms that are worthy are driving people ‘crazy’ too. Cheers for joining the fun!

      1. Y’all is the second person plural and perfectly acceptable when addressing a group 😉 Loved the article and have started following you on Feedly!

  5. Brilliant and funny article, buuuuuuut I realise you probably live in London and that’s why you say London all the time but one of my pet hates is when people use London when they mean the UK. South Africans do it all the time, and some (not all) Americans do. My sister in law (South African) asks me “how is London” and I reply “not a clue love, I live 250 miles away and avoid it like the plague”. : )

  6. I find it grating the way Americans pronounce ‘mirror’. “Mir-r” *shudders*!

  7. I grew up in Canada with a Scottish mother and a Norwegian father so a lot of the words are familiar to me and some of them we still use in my family. I grew up with pram and plasters and bobby pins used to be called kirby grips but to add to the confusion my father used to call a Roller Coaster a “Berg og dal bane”. Add to this confusion Canadians have their own words for things that are different from both British and American. Canadians say washroom for the american restroom, knapsack for the american backback, chocolate bar for the american candy bar and in canada we call the hat americans call a beanie a toque.

  8. Thank you for your input. The English have different sayings to America, and vice versa. It’s not an issue. It’s quite simple, really 😛

    But London has it’s own dialect 😛 I say “alright?” to greet my mates often. It’s a greeting. It doesn’t have anything to do with how someone looks. Gym kit is self explanatory. It basically means the whole package (bag, clothes, water bottle, flannel, towels…) Hope this helps? Some americanisms I’m not a fan of either. Can’t think of any at the moment.

  9. I am british but have lived in Massachusetts for many years visiting U.K.regularly.I find the most annoying thing spoken in America is.”At this moment in time” instead of “ Now “ .I have been reminded often that the British seem to have a larger vocabulary than most Americans. Yet they make comments mentioned here adding words which are meaningless & less concise than they need be . Thank goodness PBS among other tv channels have well acted British programmes,using character actors instead of everyone looking like models,to watch in these Covid times.

  10. You are right to the point in most of those …I’m not english nor American but I have an American accent and pretty much an American education of some sort …so everything here in england seems awkward to me when I moved … especially the ” Yo okay ” it driiiiives me crazy and I hopppe they stop asking me that every few minutes …it goes like I’m sitting on my desk doing my own thing and the other person in the room/office would go like” Yo okay?” And I nod or say yea ….then after like 10 minutes they go again like “YO OKAY ” . FOR GOD”S sake leave me alooone …I look ok and I sound ok Iam FINE ….ahh sorry I lost my temper XD its just this thing that I can’t get used to

  11. Why the heck do the Brits say one word responses and just stand there staring at whatever it is they want to see. It drives me mad. Instead of walking up to a museum, a garden, a house – they stop short and say, RIGHT! and just stand there looking daft. Or they will see something and just say, BRILLIANT or LOVELY. No in depth description using adjectives and voice inflection. One word comments make anyone sound ignorant.

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