The PoDCAST Series ARTICLES
Learn English 109 Article
A Quick And Easy Beginner Guide to The English Word Pants
This is the learn English 109 podcast transcript that accompanies the Thursday short audio podcast. Use this transcript to support your English learning.
So let’s take a single word and talk about it. And today’s word is pants, P-A-N-T-S.
Hi I’m Hilary and welcome to this latest short podcast from Adept English. Listen to this podcast a number of times, to help you get used to understanding English. Also our podcasts help you with words, phrases, grammar, vocabulary – and give you tips about British culture.
So let’s take a single word and talk about it. And today’s word is pants, P-A-N-T-S. It’s the sort of word which British people might have a little smile at when they hear it. But it’s one of those words to be aware of, because pants means something different if you speak American English to what it means in UK English. So yes, if an American says pants, it means something different from if a British person says pants.
RIGHT Click on the icons and choose SAVE LINK AS to download the files
American Pants Are Really British Trousers
So, if you’re an American and you say ‘pants’, it generally means the same as ‘trousers’. Pants are trousers, so a piece of clothing that covers up your legs. To Americans, pants are what you would wear outside of the house, in the street. Pants are similar to jeans – you put your legs into them – it’s just they’re always called jeans, if they’re made out of material called denim. Jeans is the word in both Britain and America. But pants are trousers made out of some other material. So to an American, pants means the clothes that you wear on your legs, in public. You would refer to a two piece suit, or a smart suit, as a ‘pant suit’ or as ‘having pants’ or ‘dress pants’. And a suit is the sort of thing you might wear to a wedding perhaps.
In England Typically Pants Means Your Underwear
But pants means something different in most of the UK. If you talk about your pants, you’re usually meaning your underwear. So pants are not something you would usually want to show in public. For women, pants are the same as knickers – and yes, knickers starts with a ‘K’ – K-N-I-C-K-E-R-S. But you wouldn’t usually say ‘knickers’ for men. You’re more likely to say ‘pants’ or ‘underpants’.
Your pants are probably the first thing that you put on in the morning – and they don’t cover your legs. Men also may wear ‘boxers’ underneath their jeans or their trousers. ‘Boxers’ are short for ‘boxer shorts’. When David Cameron was Prime Minister, he was famously asked in an interview what underwear he preferred – and he said ‘boxers’. But pants are the alternative – so basically it’s the piece of clothing that you wear on your bottom.
Just To Confuse You The North Of England Say Pants For Trousers!
So just be wary of the difference. Americans would go outside in public in their pants, meaning their long trousers, whereas people from the UK generally would use pants to mean underwear. However, there is an exception, even in the UK. If you come from the north of England, that is. And here in the north of England, you will hear pants used, just like the Americans do, to mean your trousers, the clothing on your legs! Don’t ask me why it’s different up there – it just is!
And another very British slang use of the word ‘Pants’. You can use it to say that something is bad. You just say ‘It’s pants’. For example, the weather this weekend, the Easter weekend in the UK is bad. It’s rainy and windy for the whole of Easter. So you might say ‘The weather over the Easter weekend in the UK is pants!’ So if something is ‘pants’ - it is a slang expression for very bad, very disappointing.