Hey Brits - Where's the The?

Does the same apply to “past” vs. “the past”?

I find it odd to omit the “the”, except when using past or future as an adjective.
“In future cases, remember to fill the pool before diving in.”
"In past weeks, hail has laid waste to the used car lot.

OTOH, at present I have no such scruples with “the present”.

I can use future with or without the article but past must have the article. I notice the same thing with front and back. Australians, English and Irish say in front or in the front but we will always use the article when we say back. I’ve noticed some Americans just say “in back” though.a

Well, here’s another one. Growing up, we always talked about going to the prom. But even as this happened where I live (Georgia), I was watching movies that said, “What about prom?” And since then, I have felt like my high school was the only one that went to the prom, whereas everyone else just went to prom.

Anyone with a degree in English Lit. can perhaps understand my dilemma. Especially one (such as myself) who goes on how things sound when writing. Having something that sounds right be wrong is bothersome, in ways that most people probably cannot imagine.

So someone make a rule! Gah!

[slight hijack]
What about the American tendency to add prepositions? “Get off of the stage” instead of “Get off the stage”. Is this a regional thing?
[/slight hijack]

Shall? I doubt many Americans would use the word “shall”. Except maybe when trying to sound old-fashioned or [cough] English. :smiley:

As an American (albeit raised in Canada), I would say “I will write to him” or “I’ll write to him”. But I have heard some people in some regions of North America say "I’ll write him.

As for “Get off (of) the stage,” I have used both. Unfortunately, I don’t remember which usage came from which region. Personally, I find “Get off the stage” to be more direct. To soften the directive I might say, “Get off of the stage.” But that’s just me. YMMV


And then there’s the British and their pesky maths.

“In future” means “from this time on”. “In the future” means “starting some time after now”.

Nothing wrong with that. Maths is short for mathematics. I don’t think there is such a word as “mathematic” , not as a noun anyway.

The “I will write him” thing is just ellipsis. The speaker assumes you know that he/she is going to write a letter to this guy, so that part just gets dropped. For reference, I live in New Jersey, and say “I’ll write to him” if I’m not qualifying it with a direct object.

Actually the most common usage of this in America would be “Write? What the hell for? I’ve got a phone!”


So would would a Brit say

“Our country is in the crap-hole.”

“Our country is in crap-hole.”

Personally, when I think of Britian. I would say “The country is a crap-hole.”

Note: This is joke. But I am probably in dog-house now.


With things like “church” and “school”, we in the US, as said, say “to church” and “to school”. However, in these cases, “church” and “school” are as much specific entities in and of themselves, rather than standing in to refer to a specific chuch or school. You aren’t so much saying “I’m going to the school building” as you are saying “I’m going to attend the activity known as school”.

I think it’s more an issue of how two "of"s in the sentence sound cloying. If I just referring to two boxes, I would say “a couple of boxes” but I would probably say “a couple boxes of nails” if I wanted boxes with nails in them.

David Cronan quote:

But the whole idea of an abbreviation is that you use the first few letters. “s” isn’t one of the first few letters, is it? Do you say “10 kms” since it’s short for 10 kilometers?

I notice that in general, the British will say, “There’s the drummer out of the Rolling Stones,” while Americans say, “There’s the drummer in the Rolling Stones.”

The first time I saw the British way in a music magazine, I briefly thought they were saying the person was no longer in the band.

Sometimes an abbreviation uses the first, middle and last letters, such as “Twp” for “Township.”
But I think what the British are getting at with the Maths thing is that there are several kinds of math, not just one. Hence the plural form of the abbrevation. At least, this is what I was told by a two English friends a couple of years ago when we had a brief debate on the “Maths vs. Math” subject. After brief consideration, I had to concede the argument.

OTOH the British refer to “sport” rather than “sports”, which kind of blows the multiple-varieties theory out of the water.

No, we say “10 k’s”, and not “10 k”. And I must totally disagree with your logic of “the whole idea of abbreviations is that you use the first few letters.” Almost every abbreviation of a plural word will include the “s” on the end.

Do you say “My engine revs x amount of times per minute” or do you say “my engine rev x amount of…”.

I am assuming you use the first one. So that is why we say “maths”, because it is short for “mathematics”, and why we say “revs” because it’s short for “revolutions”.

Interesting point from Royal Sampler there.

However I believe the standard UK abbreviation for kilometres is ‘km’ not ‘kms’. This from the Collins English Dictionary.

We don’t tend to abbreviate ‘miles’ so there is no unit comparison to be made.

Paradoxically I would say ‘I’m entering the Olympic 10,000 metres’, using the plural, but I could also express that as ‘I’m entering the Olympic 10k event’ using the singular.

Also American say “I could care less” whereas the British say “I couldnt care less”.

I think the British version is more correct here grammatically. The idea is to express the fact that you REALLY dont care about the object/person/whatever.

If you REALLY dont care then saying “I could care less” implies that you have more care than necessary - it is possible to care even less.

Saying “I couldnt care less” shows that you dont care at all - it would not be possible to have less care than you do.

Hello xanakis.

‘I could care less’ probably has the ‘I’ stressed in conversation whereas ‘I couldn’t care less’ normally has the ‘less’ emphasised. In this way the former becomes ironic while the latter is merely factual.

This is a hypothesis since I have never heard the first expression, even on a US TV show.