Differences between Americans and the British

Are there a lot of differences between British people and Americans? I began to focus on this question after reading reviews of two recent films - Blow and One Night at McCools. I have never read a better review of a film than that given by English magazine Uncut to One Night at McCools but every American review I have read is less than lukewarm. English reviewers, however, have given Blow (and Johnny Depp) very poor reviews while Rolling Stone said Depp was superlative and gave the film five stars.

I suspect a lot of foreigners find it a little weird that every July 4th Americans celebrate independence from a country which has been their greatest ally for a century or more. Can Americans understand that point of view? Or are there enough differences between English and American people to make that seem absurd? If so, what are they?

A sig line I admire reads, “An american thinks 100 years is a long time. An englishman thinks 100 miles is a long distance.”

My parents have spent several years (total over the past decade) living in London. To this day they are still running into new differences between us and them.

Try this http://paul.merton.ox.ac.uk/misc/culture.html

It explains a lot.

I think most Europeans have a lot of experience in letting by-gones be by-gones, when it comes to war. Celebrating (or at least commemorating) battles with foes-now-turned-allies is quite common over here, as well. FWIW, the Brits and the Danes just recently commemorated the (naval) Battle of Copenhagen (1801) by having units of the respective navies more or less re-enact it.

So I wouldn’t consider celebrating July 4th weird in the slightest.

S. Norman

Differences? Oh you mean like how they spell things funny? Or how Poms (another word for them Limeys) insist, against all observable, rational evidence, that British English is the preferred choice worldwide?

Truthfully, most of the Brits I meet are good 'ol boys (blokes) just trying to get by and have fun. Not much different than most of my friends back home.


Back in 1988, I had the opportunity to attend the semi-finals at Wimbledon. Now, I’ve never been to the U.S. Open, but I imagine as you walk into the stadium at Flushing Meadows you’ll see signs that say “No Flash Pictures.”

When I walked into the venue at Wimbledon, I saw a sign reading “The Use of Photgraphic Flash is Prohibited as it is Off-putting to Players and Spectators Alike and in Any Event is Quite Ineffectual at Such a Distance From the Court.”

There’ll always be an England!

I’ve heard that most American guys are circumcised, and most British guys are not.


I’ve believe that English guys are generally regarded as effete by Americans*. I thought about that when I saw English pop star Robbie Williams camping it up television recently. He isn’t gay but his humour comes out of British stuff like the Goons, the Carry On Movies and Monty Python and he does the funny voice thing with mincing at the drop of a hat. It occurred to me that I had never seen Bruce Springsteen, for instance, talking like Bluebottle or Kenneth Williams.

*Logically only about 10% are. It’s the same everywhere.

I find that British youngsters tend to be more worldly, cynical, and drunk than their American counterparts.

Well, I’ve met many people from both groups and although there are small differences I think that for the most part, we’re more alike than we are different. Our politics and accents may be different but people are people. Sure they say “boot” instead of “trunk” and “crisps” instead of “potatoe chips” but that’s minor.

The boys and I just got back from a few days of camping and while there, we met a delightful couple from England. Their boys were about the same ages as ours and they hit it off really well since boys seem to be boys wherever they are from. We lost the England vs Canada football (soccer) match but think we will fare better when we play some road hockey. The boys caught frogs, rode bikes, and devoured tons of burnt marshmallows at the fire. Their kids thought we had funny accents…

We adults seemed to have hit it off pretty well too, we discussed politics, movies, T.V., work, family, and a dozen other topics while our kids kicked back and listened to Harry Potter on tape. The coffee and brandy might have been a Brit thing but having a few cold beers around a blazing fire seems universal.

Our new friends will be stopping by here on Sunday to visit and have dinner with us. They are on a three month holiday of Canada and will be going on to British Columbia after stopping here to enjoy some Canadian hospitality. Perhaps they will stay a few days and enjoy our fine city and all it has to offer.

I really didn’t see too much difference between a middle class English couple and ourselves, the middle class Canadian couple. I think that an American couple in the same circumstances would be very much the same, albeit bereft of the charming accent. :slight_smile:

The British have tea and biscuits, and Americans have beer and nachos. THAT’s the difference.

*Originally posted by Spiny Norman *

Well, if that’s possible a “Get To Know Your Enemies Day” once a year for allies(?) -turned-foes should be as well. Americans probably have more in common with Russians they than they realise. Alcohol, snow, bears, guns, spacecraft, facial symmetry and problems with Islam are just a few that spring to mind.

But it’s weak beer - it’s always weak beer. That’s what English people say. Why do you let them get away with it? Is it true that beer made outside the States is stronger? Why would that be the case?

I have no clue why, but my first beer I ever drank was in Belgium. I drank for about 3 weeks while I was in Belgium (long story, but I had about 60 different types of beer). I returned to the states, turned 21 shortly there after. I have tried several American beers, and they are all too watered down for my taste. It’s to the point that I drink almost exclusively imported beer

Ireland and Britain get on pretty well now. But the Easter Rising of 1916 is still celebrated with a parade every year.

Well, God is responsible for some of the best things in life but I must say that the distilleries of the American South provided some as well. I would have Southern Comfort on intravenous drip if it was possible. So, in my opinion American bourbons and whiskeys more than make up for the beer.

>> … the Brits and the Danes just recently commemorated the (naval) Battle of Copenhagen (1801) by having units of the respective navies more or less re-enact it

2005 will be the bicentenary of the battle of Trafalgar where the British fleet under Nelson defeated the combined French-Spanish fleet and went on to become the greatest navy for over a century. It was a major landmark in European history and I was thinking it would be a great idea to commemorate it and link it to the emergence of a United Europe.

*Originally posted by ruadh *

Isn’t the celebration of past battles and conflicts just a way of keeping hostilities alive? I consider myself non-racist on the basis that I do not “own” the consciousnesses of the people responsible for slavery or the terrible racism that existed prior to the century I was born in. I don’t have a mind for it. I don’t relate to it. I suspect coloured people find it difficult to accept a viewpoint like mine but nevertheless I’m not changing it. If I was English I would probably feel much the same about the Irish and if I was American, the English. Remembering the past is sometimes not in everyone’s best interests.

As an American, try doing a crossword from England and vice versa. Definately 2 different languages.

Dated a bit of English crumpet for a while. Had some fun with the difference in the word “fanny” (US it’s someone’s tush and in England it’s a womans hooha.) While I did my best to further US-English relations, man there were a lot of cultural and language differences.

to paraphrase eddie izzard:

i’ve just always liked that. and it explains so much…