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When spending time with my British speaking friends here in Italy, we often come across some words that sound familiar to each other yet mean completely different things to one another.

One of the most hilarious words is PANTS. For me, as an American English speaker pants are the clothing one wears on their legs, like shorts or a skirt. This seems rather odd to some of my friends who are British English speakers, because to them pants is what you wear under your pants, like what us Americans would call your underwear!

While some words, like the example above, are obviously very different, other words are sneakily different.

Let’s take a nice little look at the word QUITE for example:

Commonly, the word can mean “completely” to both the British and the American speaker, but depending on the adjective following it, QUITE can mean very different things.

If my boss tells me that my work is quite good, as an American I am pleased to hear that he is happy with the quality of my work. If my boss was speaking British English however, I should be very concerned. In British English quite good means that my work is fairly good.

So in American English, quite good means very good and in British English quite good mean not so good.

As an American, I’ll have to watch myself when speaking with my dear British friend, so that I don’t mistakenly tell her that she is quite a pretty lady. To me that means that she is very pretty, but to her it might mean that I don’t think she’s “all that pretty”…

My first gut reaction when hearing the word QUITE, is positive. Quite beautiful, quite warm or quite bright all mean “more” of that adjective to me.

Now a days, British English and American English are becoming more and more similar, and this allows us to be more aware of the differences, but this does not mean that we can assume that the listener will understand what we mean. Am I quite right?

So be aware of whether you’re speaking and hearing British English or American English because sometimes we can fool you.

And I think this article is QUITE good.

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