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USA

Commonwealth

Legal driving age

16

18 (17 in Britain)

Legal drinking age

21

18

Legal age of sexual consent

18

16

Legal gambling age

21

18

Electricity

110 volt

240 volts

Road distance measured in

Miles

Kilometers*

Distance measured in

Feet, yards

Meters*

Weight measured in

Pounds

Kilograms*

Liquid measured in

Pints, gallons, Fluid Oz

Liters*

Temperature measured in

Fahrenheit

Celsius

Drives on the

Right

Left

Car transmission, mostly

Automatic

Manual (standard)

Most popular Winter sports

Football, hockey

Soccer, Rugby

Most popular Summer sport

Baseball

Cricket

Expected % of tips

15%

10%

Prefix for dialing long distance

1

0

*Britain is perhaps an exception when it comes to metric versus Imperial - some items are still imperial measurement while others are metric - they seem to be battling to make that switch over, even though the official change from Imperial to Metric was made in the '60s..

Some other interesting differences

Americans make up their beds using blankets and sheets with a bedspread or comforter to cover the bed. Most Commonwealthers use a "duvet" (pronounced doo-vay) which is similar to a comforter but has a removable cover which can be washed. In Australia it is called a doonah.

Continental pillows in American are unheard of. These are oversize pillows found on many Commonwealth beds more for decorative purposes or perhaps to lie up against while reading a book or watching TV in bed.

At Christmas time, Commonwealthers celebrate Christmas dinner in a similar fashion to Americans with one notable exception. Christmas Crackers: paper tubes that bang when you pull them apart and they contain a toy, a paper hat and a riddle or joke, the usefulness of which is directly proportionate to the amount of money paid for them.

A billion in the Commonwealth is a trillion in the USA.

Light switches are opposite. Down is off in America, while down is on in the Commonwealth.

Believe it or not, toilet flush handles are (in most cases) also on the opposite side of the toilet.

The main road in a town is normally called "Main Street" in the USA, while in Britain it is invariably called "High Street". In Australia, many towns have a main street called Station Street.

In Britain, most shoppers bag their own groceries while in the USA most do not.

In the Commonwealth, checks (cheques) meant for deposit only are "crossed" meaning two lines are drawn across the top left corner. In the USA "For Deposit" is written on the back. If you talk about crossing a cheque in the USA, you are going to get some funny looks from your banker!

In most Commonwealth countries (except Australia), you have to pay an annual license fee in order to own a TV. This money goes to the state run TV channels in order to finance programming. There is no license fee in the USA.

Local phones calls in the USA do not attract charge per minute and you can talk as long as you want to for no additional charge. Very useful when dialing up to the Internet. In the Commonwealth you are charged for local phone calls, based on how long you talk, except Australia where you have no charge per minute on locals, you only pay a connection fee.

In the USA in sporting events such as gymnastics, it is possible to get a perfect 10 score. In the Commonwealth the highest possible score given is normally a 9.9 - the thought being that you cannot give a perfect 10 score because there could always be someone who could do it better than you!

Manners...

Americans are very polite, greeting everyone including strangers passing by with "Hi, how ya doin' today", and every thank you is followed with a "You're Welcome". Commonwealthers are more reserved, and greetings with strangers passing by are either brief nods or nothing at all.

Schools...

In American schools you usually sit individually, but in the UK you sit in a group of 2 or more (Australia and South Africa single desks). You may call a period of time you are out of the lesson for behavior, "time-out", but in the UK you would call it "isolation". Uniform is worn at nearly every school in the Commonwealth, however in the US not many schools wear a uniform - only private schools.

Bare Boobs...

American television is much more "censored" and conservative than in the Commonwealth. For example, a woman's breasts will not be shown on network or basic cable TV, neither will any form of swear words be heard. In the Commonwealth it is not uncommon to see nakedness or hear "bad" words on network TV - and here we even include Canada, who lean very much toward their true Commonwealth nature in this respect.

What of course is interesting is the fact that these strong moralistic values are not imposed upon premium cable channels (such as HBO, Starz and Showtime, who will show all of the above and MORE!) meaning that you CAN view whatever you want just so long as you are prepared to pay for it!

In Britain some national daily newspapers have what is known as a "page three girl", that is a picture on page three of a topless girl posing.

 

If you know of any words or differences I have missed please submit them to me here

Copyright 2006 Bruce Longman. All rights reserved. Web Design by Longman Computer Solutions.