English: United States vs. Ireland (Part 1)

One of the main reasons of why I chose Ireland as the country I wanted to move to was the language. I wanted to be able to comfortably understand people outside of an international environment. Although this applies to Ireland, there are certain differences used on a daily basis that are worth noting, as they are confusing to those of us who’s English education comes from an American background. Here’s some of the most used ones to get you started.

  1. Let’s start with one that you can hear from essentially anyone. Instead of saying excuse me when someone behind you wants to get your attention or wants to walk past you, the Irish say sorry. I consider this to be quite important to keep in mind, as I was already in the position of someone behind be saying sorry repeatedly and me not moving, assuming they were apologizing to someone else for some reason that did not concern me.
  2. Another one that you hear very often is crack. Firstly, it is actually spelled craic (the previous spelling is to note the pronunciation). Secondly, it does not mean cocaine. It never means cocaine. Craic is used with a multitude of definitions, depending on the context. I have found that there are three most used ones: a) “What’s the craic?”, meaning “What’s up?” or “What’s going on?” b) “That was good craic” (and similar variations), meaning “That was good fun.” or “That was a good time.” c) “For the craic” (in the context of why you are doing something), meaning “For the fun of it” or “For the hell of it.”
  3. When telling the time, half past seven (7:30) becomes half seven (and consequentially with any given time). Don’t ask me why this is so complicated for the brain to immediately process as an acceptable time, but when heard in context, it tends to be.
  4. When making plans for next week’s Wednesday and today is Monday, for example, you are making plans for Wednesday week. This is basically saying a week from Wednesday.
  5. When spelling words, the way of pronouncing the letters and z sounds like ‘heich’ and ‘zed’. If you refer to the letter as ‘zee’, it might be confused for c.
  6. Food may be something that brings the world together, but there are still some differences in what name to give certain items. A very common one is fries vs. chips vs. crisps. American french fries are called chips in Ireland, while American potato chips are called crisps. Three less common ones are courgette (zucchini)aubergine (eggplant), and icing sugar or caster sugar (powder sugar).

To continue reading, click here for Part 2 of ‘English: United States vs. Ireland’.


11 thoughts on “English: United States vs. Ireland (Part 1)

  1. Ha ha! Yes, #3 really confused my Swedish boyfriend for a long time – in fact, we very nearly missed each other on our first ever date because I had said meet at ‘half seven’, which he took to mean 6.30. He had been there for an hour when I arrived! Thankfully, he waited 🙂

    Just a note on #6 I don’t know if it’s the same in Ireland, but in England there is a big difference between fries and chips. We actually have both, fries are the thin type that you get in McDonald’s but chips are much thicker-cut (the type you get when you order fish & chips), so we wouldn’t order ‘chips’ in a fast-food joint, we would still say ‘fries’.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I also would have probably been there too early! And yes, I have definitely noticed that difference of fries/chips in menus. But most of the time, when speaking, people will just say chips. Probably out of habit.


  2. Yes!! It is funny I am American and my boyfriend is English and sometimes I can’t understand him. There are definitely lots of differences in English depending on the country.

    The first time I heard someone say craic, I was confused thinking it cannot mean cocaine!

    Liked by 1 person

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