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Why are British and American English different?

Why to Succeed in the USA You Must First Learn to Speak “American”

When doing business in today’s globalized world, all of the expert advice suggests learning to speak a little of your host’s language. If you’re British (or have learned British English) then you might think you have a head start in the USA. In fact, the differences between British and American English are substantial.

The approaching Fourth of July holiday (or should that be July Fourth?) is a reminder that American and British English share a common ancestry. Yet, despite the modern day United States having it’s roots in British colonialism, the two main branches of the English language have diverged quite markedly over the past 250 years.

Having a firm knowledge of the differences and deploying American English correctly is, as I am discovering as a British expat living and working in San Francisco, crucial to business success in the United States.

What, then, are the key differences, how should you handle them and why are British and American English so different?

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Guide to tipping in the USA

A Guide to Tipping in the United States: When to Give and How Much

America’s Tipping Culture Explained

America’s tipping culture is out of control.

Every time you eat in a restaurant, every time you buy a drink at a bar, every time you grab a coffee, get a haircut, ride a taxi, buy groceries… someone expects to be tipped.

It means that, almost entirely irrespective of quality, you must assume that all services are going to cost at least 15%, 20% and sometimes even more than the ticket price.

It is the obligatory nature of tipping in the United States that non-Americans, and particularly Europeans, find so hard to comprehend. Sure, my waiter took 20 minutes to take my order, forgot the water I asked for, gave me lukewarm food and dropped a knife into my lap when clearing my plate — but I still have to pay them extra? WHAT?

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How big is the UK compared to California?

How Big Is the UK Compared to California? (And Nine Similarly Important Questions)

One thing that expats to the United States, especially from densely populated Europe, find difficult to comprehend is the sheer scale of the place.

At the risk of stating the blindingly obvious, the United States is enormous. In fact, the USA is so big that the entire European Union (all 28 member countries) could fit inside it, twice.

My new home state, California, is (by population at least) the largest state in the union. But how does it compare to my native United Kingdom?

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Memorial day explained

Memorial Day Explained for Non-Americans – A Quick Guide

What is Memorial Day — the US Public Holiday taking place on May 25 — all about?

For expats a country’s national holidays — and how people mark them — can be a huge insight into your new home’s culture and way of life. Understanding the background to the public holidays celebrated your new country, and how you can mark them, can be an important part of your integration.

With that in mind, it is currently “Memorial Day Weekend” here in the United States – a holiday unique to the USA, and therefore an opportunity for me to try to better understand my new home. If the reaction of people on Twitter is anything to go by the holiday is predominantly about barbecues and parties:

Clearly there is much more to Memorial Day than this. So what is it all about?

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expat life in San Francisco

Nine Things I Wish I’d Known before I Became an Expat in San Francisco

In March, my wife and I packed up our life in London, England and moved 5,315 miles across the Atlantic Ocean to San Francisco, California.

Moving to a new city, let alone a new country, is a hugely exciting experience – new people, new culture, and new things to see, do and eat. But it also comes with a whole range of details to figure out and cultural quirks to get used to.

So, after nearly eight weeks in San Francisco, what are the nine things I wish I had known in advance?

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