City Desk

Copy-Editing Corner: When England Isn’t England


According to my American friend Elizabeth who now lives in the U.K....a noticeable difference between the level of care in the U.S. and British systems is the hospital ward. Here in the U.S. we're used to having "semi-private" rooms wherein two strangers are housed in adjacent beds in the same hospital room with curtains for privacy. In England, multiple patients are housed in an open ward with curtains for privacy. Kimberly Krautter, Huffington Post

And we have a system where the government basically creates such a top-down bureaucracy so that you end up rationing or have significant delays in health care, such as what happens in Canada or England. —Sen. Judd Gregg

England! That other Eden, that precious stone set in a silver sea. Home to Brighton rock, two of my favorite music blogs (1) (2), and many famous men named Ronnie (1) (2) (3)! ALSO: not a synonym for "United Kingdom" or "Great Britain."

England is a nation. It's part of a confederation called the United Kingdom, which comprises Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales) and Northern Ireland. Both of the people I cited above are conflating a part of the United Kingdom with the whole. Specific references to England are dandy, of course—Kimberly Krautter's friend might well have experienced a communal hospital room in England, for example, it's just that this follows what purports to be a comparison between the health-care systems of the United States and Great Britain. Britain would have been better here, since the same thing happens everywhere in the country. Careful writers will not confuse England with its neighbors.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Like many Americans, many English people use "England" as shorthand for "Great Britain" or "United Kingdom." Ask someone from Scotland about this tendency sometime.

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  • MN

    Really the most baffling about our island friends is that each part of GB has it's own soccer team, but the whole UK competes as one team in Olympic sports.

  • MN

    Also, they call soccer football. It's as if they invented the sport or something ...

  • Andrew Beaujon

    You are referring to the "Home Nations" rule, which results in FIFA having more constituent members than there are sovereign nations! Very odd. Also since England is usually the only one of the four to get past the first round of World Cup. Trust me on this one: It is not worth arguing that they should combine forces.