You are viewing hp_britglish

Previous 10

Aug. 16th, 2014



Breaking into Fort Knox

So I have this scene were a bunch of students have basically just fortified the Hogwarts express and repelled an attack by Death Eaters.  I want one Muggleborn to say to another something like "They'd have more luck breaking into Fort Knox," or the "Express is more secure than Fort Knox."  Which any American would know means that the place is virtually impenetrable.  Is there a British equivalent of somewhere that is basically so secure that only stupid people would try and break into it?  Or a phrase that means similar?  I want it to be a Muggle phrase so no Gringotts parallels or any thing

Edited for clarity

Answered: I think I'll go with "more luck stealing the crown jewels."  Thanks everyone!

Sep. 2nd, 2013



Coffee and Coffee Shops

Hello all! I'm working on a fic which takes place in an independent coffee shop in London. Other than a few Starbucks and Costas I haven't been to many coffee shops in the UK. I'm wondering how common filter coffee is. It seems like more people drink espresso and espresso drinks rather than drip/filter coffee, but some google sources claim it's becoming more common. (This is a good coffee shop so there's no instant coffee here!)

Would a coffee shop have a large pot (like these or these) of brewed filter/drip coffee ready to go so that they just had to pour it for each customer (a la Starbucks) or would it still be rare enough that they would make individual pour over/French Press/etc. cups as they're ordered. When ordering coffee, would you call it "drip" or "filter" coffee or just coffee? If someone says they're going to grab a coffee can that be a broad term for any coffee or espresso drink?

As far as coffee drinks go, are there any versions you would consider far more common/popular? (i.e. lattes vs. americanos vs. mochas vs. chai tea lattes, etc.) Are there any coffee drinks that you may have heard of or seen in the US that are basically unheard of in the UK that I should watch out for? Similarly are there any coffee type beverages that you would consider rather British?

And I should probably make sure! Is coffee shop the correct term?

Thank you so much, coffee drinkers! I appreciate any feedback you can give me to any or all of those questions or if there are other pertinent things you think I might be forgetting.

Aug. 15th, 2014


Resources on manners and class differences?

I had dinner with a British friend last night and she was explaining to us that while Harry would just butter a whole piece of toast and scarf it down, Draco would cut up his toast into neat triangles, then butter it and eat it.

And I find those kinds of distinctions of manner between classes really fascinating.

Are there any easy to use resources out there on the internet for people who want to research this kind of thing? I've done a bit of googling and found this: Classic English Manners, but I'd love to know more (without having to read an entire manual).

Suggestions? Personal observations?

Aug. 14th, 2014


How likely is it that a farmer in Scotland owns a gun?

Dear wonderful folks of hp-britglish! A question for you.

A bit of background: I'm writing a long, multi-chapter story about Remus during the year he lives with a werewolf pack, and I've got an important plot point where one of the members of the pack accidentally kills a Muggle farmer: A few members of the pack are scavenging for food during the hard winter, a farmer sees them sneaking into his barn and comes out to scare them off, and in the ensuing altercation, things get out of hand and one of the young werewolves (in human form, not transformed) ends up killing the man. (This is important to the story because it sets a spark to tensions already brewing within the pack, between those who believe werewolves deserve to kill if they want to, and those who just want to be left to live in peace and have no particular interest in hurting anyone.)

The question: I have the farmer coming out with a shotgun, when he wants to scare them off. Is this realistic at all in the UK? I know gun laws are MUCH tighter in the UK than in the US, and people are less likely to be just wandering around with guns at their disposal, so maybe not. Or might a farmer be an exception, keeping some kind of firearm for when foxes attack the sheep or something? The more I think about it, the more I'm thinking it's probably not all that important what weapon he's carrying; if you say a gun is unrealistic, I can have him come out with a pitchfork or a shovel or something instead. But I thought I'd go ahead and ask anyway!

In case it matters, this takes place in Scotland, somewhere outside a small village on a moor that's quite possibly fictional, but which I'm roughly basing on my own (limited!) experience of walking in the moorland area that the West Highland Way passes through.

Thank you so much!

ETA: This takes place in the winter of 1996–1997, around February of 1997.

Aug. 5th, 2014



I need some help with my Dramione Remix piece - what do Brits call a farm house/shed/farmstead/barn? A building on the outskirts of a rural property that might house animals or feed? I've tried 'barn' and 'farmstead', but they sounded too American, and 'shed' sounded too Australian. Thanks in advance :)

Jul. 26th, 2014


"Preaching to the choir"

Hello! I am a silly American who needs a hand. So, something I say a lot is "preaching to the choir." I just used it in my hp fic draft and thought "oh, wait, is that something that would make sense to a wizard?" and then I realized that I wasn't even sure if it was used outside of the US. Google is kind of wishy-washy on the subject, so I thought I'd ask here. Thanks! 

Jul. 23rd, 2014


grammatical question

I have a question about when collective nouns take a singular verb, and when they take a plural one. I know that with certain proper nouns, such as the name of a team, you would use a plural verb, correct?

E.g. Manchester United have captured the title. (in the US, we'd say "has.")

Does this same thing hold true for the name of a business or a part of the government?

E.g. Apple (have/has) put out many great new products over the years.

Parliament (have/has) reconvened. I'm thinking you'd use "have" there too, unlike here.

Thanks in advance for your help!

Jul. 20th, 2014


Underground Station or Tube Station?

Hello everyone.  Before I ask my latest question, I'd really like to thank everyone who so patiently answers all our questions on this site.  As an American who's never been to the U.K. (but would dearly love to!) it's so helpful to have insider advice.

For a scene in a story I'm writing I'm having Harry and Draco take Scorpius and Rose and Hugo Weasley to the Natural Science Museum. (Fictional place but at least somewhat based on the Science Museum on Exhibition Road in South Kensington.  Harry has no children in this fic.)  I'm having them Apparate to an designated Apparition point near the underground station at South Kensingtion.  My question may be a bit anal, but would you call it an underground station or a tube station or doesn't it matter?  A quick Google search brought up sites using both terms, so I'm thinking is an either/or thing, but I still thought I'd check.  Would the underground be the more official name and the tube more of a nickname?

Jul. 8th, 2014

Ravenclaw - Magpie


Popular children's lit in the 1950's-60's

Can someone give me a few titles of popular children's picture books that would have been well-known in the late 1950's and early 1960's? Bonus points if it involves wizards or dragons. I need something for three-year-old Lily to get excited about.

ETA: Never mind. I just realised Beatrix Potter is exactly what I need. Not sure why I didn't think of her immediately.

Jul. 7th, 2014


Signing a lease on a flat in London

Hi folks! You were so helpful to me the last time I had a question that I'm back again with another one!

I'm writing a story about Andromeda and Ted in their last couple years at Hogwarts, as she's putting plans in place to leave her family. I have Ted going to London and signing a lease on a place for them to live after they finish their 7th year at Hogwarts...but I realized I'm not sure how leases work in the UK.

In the US, for example, generally you sign a lease for a set period of time (e.g., one year), but in Germany, for another example, you sign an open-ended lease and just have to give three months' notice if you decide to move out. Which one of those is the UK more like, if either? (As in, do you usually rent for a year, or month by month, or something else?) Don't know if it makes a big difference, but the story is set when Andromeda and Ted are 18, so around 1971, rather than the present day.

Also, at the moment I have Ted doing this in January of their 7th year, just because that's where it fit in terms of my story arc, but that's probably unrealistically early to be looking for a flat they won't be moving into until June or July...right? Or maybe London real estate is so difficult that you do need to look far ahead of time...? I can change it and have him looking in May or June, if that's more realistic.

Thank you so much!

Previous 10


August 2014



RSS Atom
Powered by