Translating between English and… English

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Translating between English and… English

It may not have been George Bernard Shaw who said “The United States and Great Britain are two countries separated by a common language.”  Whoever said it was right!  Many words and phrases have a different spelling, meaning, and usage in American English than in British English. Some of these confusing terms may appear on European educational documents and other important papers.  We hope we can help you “translate” between those terms and their U.S. equivalents.

The years of learning between the ages of approximately 5 and 14 (primary education in Europe) are called elementary education in the U.S.  The phase after that is high school (generally grades 9-12 in the U.S.).

In Europe, the types of degrees are undergraduate (such as bachelor’s) and postgraduate (Master’s, PhD).  In the U.S. these are called undergraduate and graduate.

A college that might be termed “chartered” or “incorporated” in Europe would be called “accredited” in the U.S. Accreditation is a process of validation in which institutions of higher learning are evaluated according to a set of standards.

A course in Europe would be called a program in the U.S.  A course in the U.S. would refer to just one class.  You might say, “I’m taking four courses this semester: Writing, Chemistry, Research Methods, and Hydrology.”  And of course programme is spelled program in the U.S.

If you want to note which date you took which course, pay attention to the order of the day and month.  The European date format is day/month/year — so 4/6/2013 is June 4, 2013.  The American date format is month/day/year – so 4/6/2013 is April 6, 2013.

To continue your philology major in the U.S., look for linguistics.  Similarly, what is called electronics engineering in Europe is known as computer engineering in the U.S.

Finally, if you want to take the railway to your new college, you need to look for the railroad. Unfortunately, our railroad network is used more for freight than passengers. You might do better to rent a car.


This article was written by Staff