Helen Pugh, BA Hons

Helping professionals by translating and/or proofreading their documents in order for them to enjoy success in their endeavours .... since 2011

Welcome to my blog! 


Here, I will be sharing tips for people who want to improve their academic articles and also tips for fellow translators and proofreaders. 

Bulldog vs. Eagle

Most people are aware of certain differences between British and American English e.g. colour vs. color, centre vs. center. But until I embarked on my proofreading career nearly 10 years ago, I wasn't familiar with the following differences:

NB: British English is on the left and American English on the right. 

anaemia       anemia

cheque          check

defence        defense

dialogue       dialog

dreamt          dreamed

faeces            feces

foetus            fetus

jewellery       jewelry

paediatric      pediatric

programme  program

pyjamas        pajamas

tyre                tire

A quick way to check if a word is in American English or just spelt (or spelled!) wrong is to change the language from British to American English in a Word document or do a quick Internet search of the word.

Hope that's helpful to you all!

Bulldog vs Eagle Part 2 : Grammar

Now I'm going to write a bit about grammar differences between British and American English.

1. Irregular verbs. There are quite a few verbs that are different in the past simple and/or past participle. Here are a few examples. British English is on the left and American on the right:

get - got - got                                        get - got - gotten

light - lit - lit                                          light - lighted - lighted

dream - dreamt - dreamt                  dream - dreamed - dreamed

Along with dream, there is smell (- smelt or - smelled), leap (-leapt or - leaped) and numerous other verbs.

2. Time. I was shocked to see American textbooks with the phrase 'a quarter after' to mean 'quarter past'. It turns out they often say that on the other side of the pond! Also, Americans will say: "The museum is open Monday through Friday" whereas us Brits say: "The museum is open Mondays to Fridays".

3. Articles. Whereas Brits end up "in hospital", Americans end up "in the hospital". We are "at university" while they are "at the university".

4. Brits put 'river' before the name and Americans after. Therefore, there's the River Thames and the Hudson River.

I've just chosen a few short examples. There are many more. What have you come across?

Bulldog vs. Eagle Part 3: Vocabulary

This time I'll be looking at vocab. Most of us are aware of certain vocabulary differences between British and American English, e.g. trousers vs pants - and all the jokes that can cause! Here are a few less usual ones that I've picked up during my career so far. British English is on the left and American on the right.

anti-clockwise       counter-clockwise

aubergine               eggplant

clothes peg            clothespin

courgette                zucchini

driving licence      driver's license

tap                            faucet

throat sweet          cough drop

town centre           downtown

treacle                     molasses

zebra crossing       crosswalk

waistcoat                 vest


Top Tip: Use gender-inclusive words for scientific articles.

Over my career, I've often found texts with the word "mankind", which I always change to "humanity" or "humankind", since these words are gender-inclusive. This means certain readers don't feel excluded and also that the text sounds more modern and less archaic and out-of-date.

Here are a few more examples:

Men or mankind - > Humanity, humankind

Air hostess / host - > flight attendant

Man-made - > machine-made, artificial

Firemen - > fire fighters

Ballerina - > ballet dancer

Policemen - > police officers

My Favourite Websites for Translation and Proofreading Work

www.wordreference.com. Fantastic dictionaries between various languages and mono-lingual dictionaries. Also forums where you can post words and phrases that can't be found in dictionaries.

www.linguee.es. Another great resource. This lets you search for a word or phrase and see how other translators have conveyed the meaning in the target language. This one is between Spanish and English but other language pairs are available, for instance www.linguee.it is between Italian and English.

www.google.com. I do Google searches for unfamiliar phrases when proofreading or proofreading a translation draft. For instance, does the phrase "biopharmaceutical medications" exist? If I can see that it appears on reputable websites, like the NHS, then I know it's legitimate.

Email address*