Way With Words – Part 4

Last time on Way With Words, we looked at councillor and counsellor, led and lead, can not and cannot, compliments and complements, by wrote and by rote. This time around, we’re back with Way With Words 4: British Edition! These five tips should sound familiar to any transcribers based in the UK…


Round and Around

I’ll only be around for a few more days, if you do want me to come round.

Sometimes, round and around are not interchangeable. For example, an object can be round, or somebody might not be around this afternoon. The rest of the time, round can be substituted for around, whenever you’re talking about distance or giving an estimation – I’ll check round the back, or it happened round about four. However, this is apparently far more common in British English. Americans do occasionally use round as a substitute, but in American English it’s far more common – and proper – to use around.


Program and programme

I’ve been using a new program to make the programmes for tonight’s event.

American English uses program all the time. In British English, it’s programme unless it’s a piece of software.


While and Whilst, Among and Amongst

I sat still for three hours whilst my picture was painted. While it had seemed like a good idea…

Oddly, while is the older form of the word, with whilst coming up much later. While is the more popular form everywhere, but Brits will occasionally use whilst. The only hard rule here is that a while, a noun, works. There is no such thing as a whilst. (For awhile, check out Quick Tips 2.)

Among and amongst are exactly the same – Among came along during Old English, with –st making its first appearance in Middle English. Just like while, among is the more common form everywhere, with Brits occasionally using amongst at their own discretion.


Enquire and inquire

I need to enquire about how the inquiry is going.

In British English, enquire is for asking a question, and inquire for a legal inquiry. In American English, it’s inquire.


Spelled and Spelt, Learned and Learnt

I emailed him to ask how it was spelt, but he replied, ‘Do you mean spelled?’

American English speakers use -ed. For British English speakers, this is a complex question which is dependent on the weather, the tides, the current phase of the moon and how long it’s been since you last rode a bus.


Hopefully, these quick grammar tips will set you on your way to easier, more professional transcription. In our next post, we’ll be looking at Affect and Effect, All right and Alright, It’s and Its, To and Too, and Bear and Bare. Until then, happy typing!

These grammar tips are all things our UK transcribers have picked up over the years while transcribing a wide range of media. Interested in more? Check out Quick Tips 1, Quick Tips 2Quick Tips 3Quick Tips 5 and Quick Tips 6!

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