“Grey is my favorite colour”. Misadventures in English Grammar

Funny GrammarNot only do you have to learn English, with all it’s various grammar foibles, but you have to learn the differences between specific types of English. We know this is horrible, we know that you didn’t sign up for this, but we’re here to help.

The staff at BEHQ come from three different English speaking nations, and our audiences comprises of non-native English speakers from all over the world. This gives us both difficulties and advantages. We want our site to be consistent in helping you to learn English.

However, we recognise that there is more than one type of English; in face there are hundreds. Even within the UK, a person from Cornwall and a person from Newcastle can have difficulty in understanding each other’s dialect. It’s the same in many languages. If you were in Spain, the word “coger” means “to pick up”, whereas in Spanish speaking Argentina, the word has a…different meaning which we really shouldn’t publish on this blog.

Which Form of English Should I Use?

For your purposes it is likely that you’ll be wanting to learn either standard British English or standard American English. There are not too many differences between the two, but it’s important that whichever form of English you use, you are consistent within that form. The title of this blog post is an example of what not to do in that sense.

Differences in Punctuation

For today, we’ll have a quick look at one of the biggest difference in the grammar of the two systems. For the most part, spelling and vocabulary will be your main concerns, but there are a few grammar differences too.

The difference is where we use punctuation marks where there are also parentheses. These could be “speech marks”, or (brackets). Now, quick, look! You see what I just did there? I put the word brackets on the inside of the parenthesis, but my punctuation on the outside. If I was American, or using the American grammar system the sentence would have been; These could be “speech marks,” or (brackets.)

In British English, we only put the thing that you are referring to inside the parentheses. Any grammar that we are putting in ourselves goes on the outside.

In the American grammar system, all punctuation goes inside the parentheses, unless it’s part of the clause before a quote.

For example;

[box] BRITISH: I was reading a quote by Steve Martin; “a day without sunshine is like, well, night”.

AMERICAN: I was reading a quote by Steve Martin; “a day without sunshine is like, well, night.”[/box]


In both examples, the semicolon stays on the outside of the speech marks, but the difference lies in where you put the full stop.

You can read more about grammar usage here

How To Read This Site

For the purposes of using this site, Frank writes using American English grammar and I write in British English. If we tell you specific grammar rules to use, we try to tell you both rules if there are differences between the grammar systems.

My next post will cover some of the vocabulary and spelling differences that you might come up against whilst learning English. If there is anything you want me to cover, send me an email – katie@businessenglishhq.com .

I hope that you have a lovely week, and that this post has been helpful. For more help with learning English, you can download the first chapter of Write Now; Business English That Gets Results here. Have a productive week!







1 thought on ““Grey is my favorite colour”. Misadventures in English Grammar”

  1. Pingback: More Misadventures in English Grammar: UK vs. US. Spelling - Business English HQ | Business English HQ

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