We all know that British English and American English are different, but sometimes I forget which way the differences go.
Some things are simple to remember – an American “sidewalk” is a British “path” for example, and although I can still say path sometimes, I know that, to be understood, I need to correct myself to sidewalk.
But then there are things like the metal container that you get from a store that holds, for example, beans. It’s called a “can of beans” in one country, and a “tin of beans” in the other – but I can no longer keep in my head which is which.
I have the same problem with renting/hiring a car – I know that one country talks about hiring a car, and the other about renting it: one country has car rental companies, and the other car hire companies – but which is which?
The problem is compounded by the fact that American English is much more rule driven than British. If I went into a store in the UK and asked for either a can of beans or a tin of beans I would still be given the product I wanted. Here in the US it is my experience that you have to use the correct word, or no one will understand you.
And so I will carry on, watching for that bewildered look that tells me I have used the wrong word again, and just learn to live without beans.