Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles (upbeat music) - Hello everyone and welcome back to English With Lucy. Today I'm going to talk to you about 20 idioms, which have different versions in American English and in British English. You need to be really careful with these because you risk being misunderstood if you use the wrong version in the wrong country. Or actually that would mean you would be understood, 'cause that's a double negative. Anyway, I'm going to tell you the British version of the idiom, and then I'm going to tell you the American version of the idiom. I'm going to give you the definition, and I'm going to give you an example. So get you notebooks out, and write these down. Before we get started, I'd like to thank the sponsor of today's video. It is Skillshare. They are an online learning community with thousands of classes of all different topics. You can learn about marketing, languages, cooking, craft skills, honestly, the world is your oyster. 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And really there are so many English courses and language courses, and things that you will genuinely be interested in. And most importantly, let me know how it goes. Right, let's get on with the lesson. Now I have curated a list of 20 idioms which mean the same things, but have different versions in British English and American English. They're all fairly common, and you can use most of them in everyday conversation, and you homework for today is to write in the comments any other idioms that you know that might be different in different countries and different parts of the world. Right, number one. In Britain, we say, to throw a spanner in the works. To throw a spanner in the works. But in American English, they say, to throw a monkey wrench in the works, or sometimes, just to throw a wrench in the works. It's basically different because what Americans call a monkey wrench, we call a spanner. And this idiom basically mean to do something that prevents a plan or activity from succeeding. For example, the intern threw a spanner in the works, by ghosting the client on Tinder. This actually happened to someone I know. They met someone on Tinder, never replied to their messages, and turns out they're a big client for their company. It didn't go well. They threw a spanner in the works. Number two. As we say in British English, to blow you own trumpet. To blow your own trumpet. But in American English, they say to toot your own horn. To toot your own horn. This means to boast, or to praise your own abilities and achievements. For example, I don't mean to blow my own trumpet, but I read the oxford dictionary three times before the age of five. That is a lie, I did not. Number three. In Britain we say, to sweep something under the carpet. To sweep something under the carpet. But in America they say, to sweep something under the rug. To sweep something under the rug. This means to deny or ignore something that is embarrassing or might damage your reputation. A lot of politicians like to sweep things under the carpet. For example, as one of the most controversial YouTube on the platform, I have swept many scandals under the carpet. Number four. In British English we say, peaks and troughs. Peaks and troughs. But in American English they say, peaks and valleys. Peaks and valleys. This means to avoid something at all costs, or to refuse to associate with something. Woops, I said the wrong one. This is the mixture of good and bad things in life. For example having lovely sponsors like Skillshare helps my business through the peaks and troughs of the year. Number five. In Britain we would say, to not touch something with a bargepole. To not touch something with a bargepole. In American English they would simply say, to not touch something with a ten-foot pole. To not touch something with a ten-foot pole. This simply means to avoid something at all costs, or to refuse to associate with something. For example, my father would not touch trifle with a bargepole. He absolutely hates trifle. He's very good at pretending to like things, but I've never seen him pretend to like a trifle. It's that dessert which is like, cake, jam, jelly, custard, cream, ugh. I would eat it but, I wouldn't choose it. Right, number six. This is a sort of superstitious one. In British English it's touch wood. Touch wood. In American English, it's knock on wood. Knock on wood. And it's a phrase that's used just after mentioning a way in which you've been lucky in the past. And it's said to prevent bad luck. So an example would be, I am not a great driver, but I've never been in a serious car crash. Touch wood. I'm saying touch wood to prevent myself from being in a serious car crash. I actually need to touch wood now. (knocking) Okay. I'm not superstitious I'm just... I'm just British. Number seven. British English we would say, to flog a dead horse. To flog a dead horse. In American English they would say, to beat a dead horse. To beat a dead horse. This simply means to waste energy on something that has no chance of succeeding. For example, you're flogging a dead horse by trying to make my dad eat trifle. He's not gonna do it. You're not going to succeed. Number eight. Now I will admit that sometimes I use the American version. And you do have to bear that in mind with these idioms, because in Britain we consume so many American sitcoms, tv programmes and movies, that their vocabulary does bleed into our vocabulary. But in Britain traditionally, we would say to take something with a grain of salt. To take something with a grain of salt. When in America, they would say, to take something with a pinch of salt. To take something with a pinch of salt. And this means to view something with scepticism or to not take something literally. For example, if I offer you a tequila, you should take it with a pinch of salt and a slice of lemon. Just joking. That's proof, that you should take everything I say with a grain of salt. Number nine. In British English, we would say swings and roundabouts. Swings and roundabouts. In American English they would simply say, ups and downs. Ups and downs. These idioms are used to describe situations where there are as many gains as there are losses. For example, in the UK, we pay high taxes, but it's all swings and roundabouts, because we have a great National Health Service. Number 10. Another one where I might actually say the American one, because the Americanisms have bled into Britain. But the British idiom is skeletons in the cupboard. Skeletons in the cupboard. Whilst in American English, they say skeletons in the closet. Skeletons in the closet. And we don't actually use the word closet, which means wardrobe in British English, but I would use the word closet for this specific idiom. And a skeleton in the closet is a secret that would cause embarrassment if known. For example, I could never run for prime minister, because I have ar too many skeletons in my closet. Number 11. Oo this one is so British. The British version is so British. To have a go at someone. To have a go at someone. We use this all the time. If there's one that you remember, remember this one. The American version is to tear into someone. To tear into someone. It means to attack someone with either force or language. For example, true story. A teacher once had a go at me for faking an illness when I was genuinely very unwell. Number 12. In British English we say a storm in a teacup. A storm in a teacup. In American English, they say a tempest in a teapot. A tempest in a teapot. That sound much more posh. Teacup, teapot, much more tea. This means great outrage or excitement over a trivial matter. For example, I don't think the apocalypse is coming. I think it's big old storm in a teacup. Number 13. In British English we say a drop in the ocean. A drop in the ocean. And in American English they say, a drop in the bucket. A drop in the bucket. It means a very small or insignificant amount compared to the amount needed. For example, I saved 33 pence by doing my shopping online, which is a drop in the ocean compare to what I need to save for a house deposit. That's what I trying to save for at the moment, and it's not easy. Number 14. This is a personal favourite. I just really like it. And I actually love the American version. But saying makes me cringe.