"Also, I can kill you with my brain." (toastedcheese) wrote in in_english,
"Also, I can kill you with my brain."
toastedcheese
in_english

checking the... post?

Hello, I'm new here.

I know that Americans say "mail" and the British say "post." And if I want to see what's in my mailbox, I'd say I'm "checking the mail," "getting the mail," or "checking the mailbox." So what would be the British equivalent of these terms?
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  • 7 comments
Heya - I'm new too!

Well, for a start most Brits don't have mailboxes - our post usually just comes through the letterbox (the slit in the door). A postbox for us is where we actually post our letters. So we'd say "getting the post," or comment that the "postman has been."
Yes -- and the other, implicit difference is that because there is no mailbox, so new post typically comes straight into the house, we don't need to "check" it -- we know whether there is any post or not. So it's just a question of when you hear the letterbox rattle, you go to pick the post up off the doormat.

Why we call it a letterbox when it's usually just a slot, I don't know -- presumably they used to always have a box on the inside to catch the post before it hit the mat, but now they hardly ever do.
If the kitchen is at the front of the house you also see the postman coming while making breakfast, which generally results in me yelling "postie's here!" to whichever layabout is awaiting their cuppa elsewhere :)
I've seen some houses with a box hung by the front door for post, or they have a mesh basket mounted to catch the post as it comes through the letter box. Neither are very common practise though, in the case of the latter it's presumably to stop the dog eating it. :)
Aha, interesting. "Getting the post" works, then.

However, the character I'm writing about lives in a flat in London. I can't imagine he'd have a letterbox (he doesn't live on the ground floor, for one thing). In that case I assume there would be boxes like these for the post. Is that a safe guess?
Probably, but not always. Some blocks of flats still have letterboxes for the individual. Or posher establishments might have a manned reception where post is delivered and collected.
Welcome :) I can't really add anything to the others' comments as they answer your question perfectly, but I thought I'd say hi anyway.