10 things the British do that really, really annoy Americans!

We got a great response to the article last week “10 things Americans do that confuse and annoy the British” – I even received a few emails from Americans asking if they could reply. So who am I to refuse? The following is by Marty Palmer who now lives in England with her British husband Tony, but she spent her first 35 years of life in America. She doesn’t hold back (typical American haha) Ahem. Sorry.


1. Use their Britishness as an excuse for being blunt or rude

I am tired of hearing some British people act cold or blunt and then blame it on their Britishness when they get called out on it. I do understand that people are different and have different gauges for what is appropriate, however, rude is rude and blunt is blunt. If I tell you that something you said struck me the wrong way or hurt my feelings, don’t say “sorry, I’m British” as an excuse. Just say “I’m sorry, I hurt your feelings” and try not to be so blunt next time. After all, you do make me apologize and feel bad for being too friendly and open……

I am an educated person with a college degree in English. I have had a British friend for about six years who lives in America and I have probably understood about four years worth of what he has said. That has gotten better for me since I have lived in England myself for a while, but in the beginning it was

Him: Do you have any ALU-MIN-I-UM?

Me: Oh, you mean the ALU-MA-NUM?

Him: No ALU-MIN-I-UM, you Americans don’t speak properly.

The same goes for VIT-amins for vitamins, crisps for potato chips, French fries being chips etc.. It’s not the misunderstanding that bothers me, as I know different countries have different ways of using language and pronunciation. When I am in England I do my best to use their terminology for things. It is, however, the insistence that their way is the right way and I must be an idiot because I am an American. I too am a product of my upbringing and I call things what I call things because that is what they have always been called here. However if I started saying ALU-MIN-IUM in America, I would be an American trying to be British. I really can’t win.

2. Personal hygiene and general health

I’m not saying Brits are smelly. But there are a whole lot of them that don’t look after their nails and teeth like they should. I do enjoy using the NHS (National Health Service) and not worrying about health care costs IS great. But Brits can be lazy when it comes to making sure their dental work is up to date because it’s not a free service. But it only costs $50 for treatments in America that would easily cost $250. It doesn’t make sense to me.  They also have exactly two types of feminine hygiene products available. True, we do go overboard in America on that issue with the selection – but come on!

There is also that British stiff upper lip about the doctors. Not going until you’re feeling very ill.  It’s not the done thing. They really need to get over that.


3. Assume Americans all secretly want to be British

Although this may be true for some (I do know a lot of Anglophiles), I have found that the Brits I know seem to get too much pleasure from hearing Americans use words like “cheers and love.” They take it as a personal confirmation that they are superior and we Americans want to be like them (joke). So, just because you watch Downton Abby or know someone from England, it does not make you British.

To a Brit, you are still an American even if you decide to say snog, cheers, ‘ta love, cuppa, shag or blimey. And don’t get me started with the Americans who put on a bad fake English accent to attract men or women at bars. Seriously, to a Brit, you are just an American trying to be British and insulting them with a bad accent and they do get satisfaction and amusement out of knowing you are trying to be like them.


4. Pretend they are proper but are really quite naughty

This is a bit specific to the British male, as the British women I know are actually pretty funny and open.

The British men I know, however, pretend to be naive and shy when it comes to topics like sex or bodily functions. They attract women like moths to a flame in America with this prim and proper act. Don’t believe it. They are dirty buggers and use their boy- like charm to make you do things…bad things…but seriously, we are all human. British men do fart and poo and have dirty sex thoughts, my British female friends have told me so. I mean, come on, have you ever watched British TV? There are shows on there that would make most American’s blush.


5. The weather and having to hear Brits talking about it all the time

Weather is bad in Britain. Yes, there is sun. But when it does come out it’s big news. Most of the time since I’ve lived here I’ve liked the fact it’s been so changeable.

What I don’t like to hear is Brits TALKING about the weather. All the time. ALL THE TIME. Post office = weather. Bank = weather. News = weather. It’s an obsession beyond belief.


6. Poor level of service in Restaurants AND the prices!

Buying food in supermarkets is cheaper here in England. Even the basics like bread and milk are often half the price I paid when I lived in America. It makes sense as the country is much smaller. But eating out is very, very expensive. And because there is no incentive for tips (the British are lousy tippers) – very often I have terrible service when dining out in England.

One benefit – I can leave a few pound coins for an expensive meal and the waitress/waiter is overjoyed. In America I would be chased out of the restaurant.


7. No free refills and alcohol measures are small

This may seem like a minor thing, but unless you’re eating in Subway in the UK, there is no such thing as a “Free refill”. You have to pay for each drink. EACH DRINK! And because food and drink is already incredibly expensive, your bill can easily reach to the equivalent of $50 for two at a standard restaurant.

Plus when I want something stronger than a cola, in England everything is measured carefully. American bartenders don’t do that. They pour the drink until it looks “right”, very often giving you so much more than the controlled measures in the UK.


8. Complain about Americans zest for America

Brits have patriotism, and lots of it. They love their homeland and by all means they should. Americans tend to love their country as well, and many can be vocal about it. So don’t be haters and moan about Americans and their patriotism and how they love their flag, guns and Wal-Mart. All Americans are not the same. All American’s are not gun-toting, flag wavers who set off fireworks every night to celebrate independence and military power. Some of us are quiet, prim and proper and keep our love for our country to ourselves. Some Americans actually do not like everything about America (such as gun ownership) and would like to see that change. We are not all the same, we are individuals, just like you.

9. Complain about how bad American TV  is compared to the UK

I have to admit, I do enjoy watching UK television, and there are loads of fantastic shows. I was also surprised at how little if any movies and sitcoms are edited for language, sex and nudity after let’s say 9 PM.

However, the Brits I know watch shows like (sorry if I offend) Judge Judy and then complain that American TV is horrible. We do have good shows in America; you just have to watch them instead of always switching over to the BBC.


10. Eating beans for breakfast and… black pudding?!

I have heard over and over again how gorgeous a proper British breakfast is compared to a typical American breakfast. When I saw what constituted a traditional English breakfast, I almost fell over. Now, I know everyone has different tastes, but I just couldn’t fathom eating what looked like a close approximation to baked beans with my eggs in the morning. In my American brain, those two things should never go together. And don’t get me started about black pudding. The thought of eating beans and something made of pigs blood first thing in the morning literally turned my stomach. I will stick with American eggs and pancakes.

Blimey! is your daily dose of British news and features for anglophiles everywhere. This article was carefully written by Tim Holt, a British actor and author based in North Carolina. He misses England very much indeed, but also loves America too. Forever torn between two magnificent slices of sod.
  • Clare

    I love the British and I don’t care what you say lol

  • Alexander McCluskey-Anderson

    The xenophobic undertones are clear as day throughout this. Barmen are careful with how much drink they pour you? How ridiculous to believe these people should be responsible.

    Honestly, this whole thing comes across as a dig at people from the UK.

    • Oh no! Sorry you think it is. She doesn’t have a xenophobic bone in her body. I asked her to be as cutting as she wants and it’s meant to be read with a bit of tongue in cheek. She adores the British.

  • Howardoo

    This isn’t tongue and cheek, this is downright wrong and a massive generalisation. Saying all British people have poor hygiene is not only ridiculous, but clichéd as hell. Did you stop to consider maybe we’re simply not as conscious about our teeth as Americans?

    Arbitrary silliness.