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"England/Britain" question

Travel Forums Europe "England/Britain" question

1. Posted by bluewaav (Inactive 627 posts) 12y

bluewaav has indicated that this thread is about England

Hello to all the "UKers" in this forum!

I just have a little question for the people out there who live in the United Kingdom. I am from Canada and I was just wondering exactly what people call that country . .. . you know, with London as a capital .. . .. This is no joke! I have called it "England" when talking to some "Brits" and I have also called it "Britain" when talking to "Brits." When I use either of the names I still manage to get funny looks from "British" people!!! It is just them or just me? What do you call it now? BTW, do British people find it strange/wierd/rude when non-British people call them "Brits"? I guess I could get around it by saying, "that guy from the UK," or, "those girls from London." But it is kind of annoying not knowing what to call a country!

Please, if any of you could help me out with this I would much appreciate it. :)

- Steph

2. Posted by java_angel (Budding Member 6 posts) 12y

Great Britain is the collective term for the countries - Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Those 4 countries are the United Kingdom.

London is the capital of England, which is in Britain, and those from London are English and British.

Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland, which is also in Britain, and those from Scotland are Scottish and British.

I don't think anyone would mind being referred to as a Brit , but just make sure you don't call everyone from Britain 'English' - because they're not all English - there's Scottish, Irish and Welsh too!

Hope this make sense and is helpful to you!


3. Posted by BeckyR (Full Member 174 posts) 12y


Lauren has pretty much described the different terms we use . . . .it really depends on personal choice though who uses what much of the time.

If I am travelling for example, I usually say I am fron England . .. because I live in the south of england and that is my home . . however when I am filling in forms I will either put UK (United Kingdom) or GB (Great Britain) to describe my country of origin

If someone asked my nationality I will probably say English, but thereagin some days I might say British . . .

Do I have any logical reasons for this . . .of course not, I am just one of those many eccentric "Brits", "English people".

I would be quite happy for someone to decsribe me as enbglish or british, but if I was from wales or scotland I would probably only want to be decsribed as welsh or scottish . . . . .. I suggest once you know what part of the country we are from, you then use the appropriate local decsription rather than using brits!

Hope this helps


4. Posted by bluewaav (Inactive 627 posts) 12y

ahhh . .. I see!

So if I get this right, Great Britain is the same as the United Kingdom, and you could shorten that to "Britain" or the "UK" respectively. You can also call anyone from the UK/Britain "British" or their local name, which would be one of "English," "Irish," "Scottish," or "Welsh." The latter description being what is perferred.

Thank you both kindly for your help! :)


5. Posted by Gelli (Travel Guru 2457 posts) 12y

Hey Steph,

Sorry, but in my normal way, i'm now going to confuse things horribly!

Firstly, London is also the capital of Britain and the UK, not just England.

Secondly, Britain and the UK are absolutely NOT same thing. Northern Ireland (we won't go into the whole Irish political scene here as that confuses it further...) is part of the United Kingdom (UK - full name "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland"), but not Great Britain (Britain)

Britain is essentially just the mainland and offlying smaller islands - those around Scotland, plus Angelsea and Isle of Wight and one or two others, but not the Isle of Man (between England and N Ireland) or the Channel Islands.

I'm Welsh, and am approximately happy enough to be British, but never to be called English except in extreme circumstances in random ex Soviet etc countries where it's just easier to go with English! - when telling people abroad even in Europe, it's often simpler to start with British and then say Welsh if they enquire further because many people don't have the faintest idea what or where Wales is, and it can get complicated trying to explain, especially if they aren't fluent in English.

My passport says British under Nationality, but is headed as United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. My driving licence shows the EU flag with UK in big letters in it, and then has my country of birth as British. And i'm not even going to start about the problems/intricacies of my St. Helenian ancestry!!!


6. Posted by aimsuk (Full Member 112 posts) 12y

yes thats right....Great Britain is England, Scotland, Wales, where as UK is England, Scotland,Wales and Northern Ireland.

I never know whether to put British/Britain or English/England down on forms and i live here, so no wonder u r confused!

7. Posted by bluewaav (Inactive 627 posts) 12y

hmmm okay .. . . so UK and Great Britain aren't interchangable, you say. So from what I understand the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" or the "UK" for short includes: England, Scottland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Great Britain (or GB, in short) includes: England, Scottland, and Wales. The whole island thing does confuse me, though . .. .

So would it be safe to call someone from England, Scottland or Wales "British" or would it be perferred to call them "English" "Scottish" or "Welsh" respectively? Would it be better to just stick to calling someone from Northern Ireland, even though they are part of the UK, "Irish"?

It does help knowing the full name for the UK, though. That makes more sense.

Thanks for everyone's assistance!

- Steph

8. Posted by Gelli (Travel Guru 2457 posts) 12y

Hi Steph,

Except in extreme circumstances (where whatever you call them, they will complain) British is fine for Eng/Wal/Scot, or people you aren't sure where in the UK they are from - It's safer than saying English. I'm happy with British, but prefer Welsh.

The Irish question in Northern Ireland is much harder - very basically half of the population want to be Irish (and part of the Repunblic of Ireland/Eire instead of remaining part of the UK), and the other half want to be British. And whilst most at least accept being called either, there is room for lots of trouble if you say the wrong thing to the wrong person!

Hope that helps!

9. Posted by cikusang (Respected Member 1361 posts) 11y I know..not only people outside the UK are confused about UK even the British themselves...

Likewise - Indo-Chine consists of Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar (Burma) and Laos in South East Asia.