Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “That's Not English: Britishisms, Americanisms, and What Our English Says About Us” as Want to Read:
That's Not English: Britishisms, Americanisms, and What Our English Says About Us
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

That's Not English: Britishisms, Americanisms, and What Our English Says About Us

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  721 ratings  ·  139 reviews
An expat’s witty, insightful exploration of English and American cultural differences through the lens of language.

A lifelong Anglophile, Erin Moore was born and raised in Florida, where the sun shines and the tea is always iced. But by the time she fulfilled her dream of moving to London, she had vacationed in the UK, worked as an editor with British authors, and marrie
Hardcover, 223 pages
Published March 24th 2015 by Avery
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.68  · 
Rating details
 ·  721 ratings  ·  139 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of That's Not English: Britishisms, Americanisms, and What Our English Says About Us
A linguistics professor was lecturing to her class one day. "In English," she said, "A double negative forms a positive. In some languages, though, such as Russian, a double negative is still a negative. However, there is no language wherein a double positive can form a negative."

A voice from the back of the room piped up, "Yeah, right."

It didn't come from the book, but kind of sums up the differences between the English we speak. Also I thought it was quite a good joke, just quite good, like th
Aug 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
Reading about words is always an irresistible meta-pleasure for me, but Erin Moore’s book about the differences between British and American English adds another layer of fascination by exploring the cultural reasons behind the word use variations--why it is that two nations who share so much, including a common language, still can’t completely understand each other. I considered myself fairly fluent in “British”, I read lots of British novels and love to watch BBC shows, but almost every chapte ...more
Jan 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2018
It might have been a neither witty nor insightful magazine column but it happened to be a book.
Oct 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015, nonfiction, language
I loved this from start to finish. It's an easy book to read on the side, reading a few chapters each day and savoring for as long as you can. At least, I'm glad I did it that way instead of devouring it, which would also be easy to do.
The author names each chapter for a word that Americans and English people use differently, or words one country uses exclusively (my favorite English ones are moreish, snaffling, and Crimbo). But it's not a book that's strictly about language. She takes each wor
Oct 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was "witty and insightful", as promised, but what does it say about Me that I am firmly convinced that it would have been wittier and more insightful coming from a Brit?
Reading this, I was so aware of my prejudice, that I had to force my eyes steady when they felt compelled to roll upward. I've even given it an extra star, by way of recompense for my bias. That being said... You'll smile through this if you enjoy books that remind you that you're much smarter than the average reader, but mo
Leah (Books Speak Volumes)
Mar 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
As a teenager, I was obsessed with all things British. I couldn’t get enough of The Arctic Monkeys, the strap for my guitar (on which I strummed clumsily along to Laura Marling songs) had a Union Jack print, and I infuriated my little sister by pretentiously saying I was skint instead of broke.

I finally got to live my dreams my sophomore year of college, when I spent a semester in London. I attended uni (university), got a lot of wear out of my wellies (rain boots), and made sure I always had my
Nov 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Each ch takes a word (ex: quite, mufti, gobsmacked, toilet, knackered, ginger) and discusses the use and meaning on both sides of the pond and what the differences say about our respective cultures. I liked that it went way beyond linguistics to look at historical reasons for the use or non-use of specific words or type of word (like swearing) or even societal things that differ like relationship terms. A good read. Nice long bibliography but no index.
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, language
As a certified word nerd I gobbled up this fascinating comparison of British English and American English. I have long been curious about the differences I have observed between the two countries. Chips vs. fries. crisps vs. chips, biscuits vs. cookies, loo vs. restroom, fortnight vs. two weeks, and just what is a "bloody American?" My queries were, for the most part, answered in addition to an in-depth education about many aspects of the two cultures.
The book is reminiscent of Bill Bryson's wo
Beth Kakuma-Depew
Nice short chapters that dissect both American and English culture through the lens of language. While the introduction gives some background about the author, her roots as an Anglophile from Florida, the rest of the book is devoid of her personal story. For better or worse, depending on your opinion. I found it rather easy to put down and forget about.
Dec 23, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction, humor
A book consisting of several essays about the differences between American and England. The trouble is, the author is painfully parochial, not seeming to know there is a whole lot of America that is not in Manhattan.

Simone Beg
It’s an interesting enough read if you have a general interest in intercultural relations and linguistic differences.

The author entertains with anecdotes of her personal life as an American who moved to Britain. However, this way sometimes she seems to get a bit lost on random tangents. By the end of some chapters I found myself flipping back to the title of a chapter to find out what word it was, she’d been discussing just now. Another drawback for me was that many terms didn’t really seem to b
Molly Mirren
Feb 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I read this for research, and I found the differences in the two cultures quite fascinating. The author is also witty, which kept it from being too dry.
Jul 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
It was interesting, but not compelling, I have other things I'd rather read.
May 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Okay kids, story time. Over ten years ago I was an American studying abroad at Lancaster University in Lancaster, UK. I'd finally settled into my classes and schedule, figured out the train system, and could roughly calculate the difference between dollars and pounds in my head. I was comfortable at last and felt pretty satisfied with myself. Until one of my fellow British students started talking about revising for the exams. Revising, I thought? Revising what? I'd written some short papers, bu ...more
Elaine Ruth Boe
Mar 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: study-abroad
After putting aside a similar 'field guide to British culture' (Sarah Lyall's The Anglo Files) only 70 pages in due to gross generalizations and obvious bias, I was hesitant to begin another book that touted itself as a guidebook to the British. But I'm glad I took a chance on That's Not English, for I thoroughly enjoyed the dictionary style case study of the two countries.

Each chapter in That's Not English explores the similarities and differences between Brits and Americans through the definit
Dec 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed reading this book, one of the better non-fiction collection of essays I read in 2015. The author, Erin Moore, is American by birth growing up in Key West, Florida. She has always been a self-professed Anglophile so moving to London must have been a fulfillment of a childhood dream. Moore married into a British family and eventually relocated to London.

In the introduction the author corrects some popular misconceptions about what it means to say England versus Britain or The United King
Biblio Files (takingadayoff)
May 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
How many books about British vs. American English have we seen over the years? I think anyone who's the least bit interested in the topic already knows that it's 'football' in Britain (and the rest of the world) and 'soccer' in America. So Erin Moore, an American from Florida who married an American whose parents are British, doesn't waste our time with trivia like that. Instead, she takes an approach that has the anthropological bent of Kate Fox (Watching the English) with some Sarah Lyall (The ...more
K. East
Aug 11, 2015 rated it liked it
This nonfiction book is really a collection of rather collegiate essays about the character of the British and American societies. It masquerades as a book about the differences in language -- always amusing to speakers on both sides of the pond -- but it's really more about the differences in temperament, social strata, and national pride/personality.

The author is an American living in England with her husband and child and commenting on her observations about both cultures, using 31 vocabulary
Victor Sonkin
This is a wonderful and hilarious account of language and cultural differences between America and Britain, told by an expat American who lives in London with an English husband and children who are doomed to be English and to perceive the US as a foreign country. (The ice tea story was especially poignant.) It's balanced enough to be of interest to audiences on both sides of the pond; it's Anglophile without pandering and patriotically American without being nauseating. Lots of personal insight ...more
Dec 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Disclosure: I received this book for free through a Goodreads' First Read's giveaway.

I'm a sucker for any book that discusses languages, particularly those that focus on language differences or local dialects or the like. This book by Erin Moore perfectly fits the bill. It presents different words or phrases used in England and/or America, and discusses how they are similar and dissimilar. After reading this, I feel like I've learned some new words (for example, mufti and whinge), although I dou
Am Y
Aug 31, 2015 rated it it was ok
Didn't really like this on the whole. The book is divided into many chapters based on the word the author wants to discuss: e.g. "tea", "dude", "knackered", "quite", etc. I found some chapters to be interesting, others not at all (some words were so obscure I'd never heard of them nor heard anyone using them), and in some the author rambled on so annoyingly I found it supremely unbearable. I'm not a fan of small talk and just like to get to the point. I appreciate my facts and information presen ...more
Mar 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is such a fun, lighthearted book about the idiosyncrasies between American and British English! That’s Not English isn’t so much about etymology or accents as it is about the implications, cultural context, and attitudes behind and related to our word choices, using our shared but oh-so-different language as its inspiration. Sometimes Moore's observations feel more like generalizations; it’s like she speaks in hyperbole, but there is certainly plenty of truth within her statements. But I li ...more
Nov 25, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Some interesting differences pointed out between the two languages though sometimes I did find myself wondering how she drew her conclusions. Maybe it's because she spent her time in the south and I'm from the Midlands. Dad was from Derbyshire and Mum is from Leicestershire, don't think I have ever heard anyone say chrimbo.
I'm from a family of coffee drinkers, the only person who could make a decent cup of tea was granddad, stronge enough to stand the teaspoon up in.
Still find it hard to believ
Feb 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Quick, fun read about how meanings have evolved here vs England. Interesting and insightful.
This book is much more than a catalog(ue) of vocabulary differences between British and American English. Yes, you'll learn why "quite well" has opposite meanings in each region -- but more importantly, you'll learn the differences in national psyche that cause that to be so. The "why" of the book is really what makes it a treat. A good book indeed.
May 31, 2015 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Those wanting to understand masterpiece theater and english lit better.
I particularly enjoyed some parts of this, including how English with social status or pretentions use "shall" and how English use "quite" as a lukewarm term. Laughed out loud sometimes. Having read this book I better understand what English writers are saying and why snobby Lady Mary (and others) of Downton says the things she says.
Jan 06, 2015 added it
Shelves: nonfiction, uk
I’ll read anything that helps me understand the many crazy differences between England and America.
Dec 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Definitely amazing (or quite amazing... all'americana però :P).
The genre of "British vs. American" language and culture books always seems to run on a particular set of assumptions. British culture needs to be thoroughly explained as the more "marked" culture, while "everyone already knows" about American culture (whether or not the book is aimed at Americans, which it often isn't!). So the cliches and half-formed impressions of the US formed from Hollywood and general media can be taken at face value. Everyone assumes they know the American mindset and wha ...more
Nov 08, 2017 rated it liked it
A couple of years ago I read an article on the BBC, something about both the UK and the US speak English but barely understood each other. I have always have an interest in language and how it evolves over the years, but the last time I read a book about language, I ended up giving it a one star for how boring and uninteresting the content was. But, I had high hopes for this book; if not for the topic then for the comparison between the UK and the US.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

I mean, I did
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Prodigal Tongue: The Love-Hate Relationship Between American and British English
  • Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know
  • The Art of Logic in an Illogical World
  • We Should All Be Mirandas: Life Lessons from Sex and the City’s Most Underrated Character
  • The Vogue Factor
  • A History of the World in 21 Women: A Personal Selection
  • Spoiler Alert (Spoiler Alert #1)
  • Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale
  • Poetry for Young People: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  • A Child's Anthology of Poetry
  • Breviar pentru pastrarea clipelor
  • Trafficked
  • Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife
  • Our Time Is Now: Power, Purpose, and the Fight for a Fair America
  • The Edge of the World: A Visual Adventure to the Most Extraordinary Places on Earth
  • Everyday Sexism
  • The Dead Returns
  • 老師與我
See similar books…
I am an American writer and former book editor living in London. I'm fascinated by the cultural differences between England and America, especially as they are expressed through language. In March 2015, Gotham Books (Penguin USA) will publish my book, THAT'S NOT ENGLISH: Britishisms, Americanisms and What Our English Says About Us. I live in Islington with my husband, our children, Anne and Henry, ...more

News & Interviews

Some people love books. Some people fall in love. And some people fall in love with books about falling in love. Every month our team sorts...
7 likes · 2 comments
“No place does home-turf nutjobs like America.” 1 likes
“The British claim that this tea has a negligible amount of caffeine. Don't you believe it. A couple of months after moving to London, convinced I was having panic attacks, I realized it was simply overcaffeination at the hands of generous friends and colleagues. Every cup of tea I was offered, I took–it seemed rude not to–to the tune of five of seven per day. The cumulative effects were heart-pounding, hand-sweating jitters that abated as soon as I learned my limits.” 1 likes
More quotes…