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United States vs United Kingdom Business English

U.S. vs U.K. Business EnglishI just got off of a call with a financial person at a UK company. I used the term "reclass" (as in reclassification entries) and he asked me what was meant by this. Is this an unfamiliar reference abroad? Odd question perhaps, but no one else working at the same organization has asked.


Len Green
Title: Performance Improvement Consultant and E..
Company: Haygarth Consulting LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Performance Improvement Consultant and ERP Strategist, Haygarth Consulting LLC) |

As a South African who's been in the USA for 22 years, I went thru (through?) a similar experience Winston Churchill said "USA and UK, two nations separated by a common language" :).

USA accountants use a series of phrases that may not be used overseas, and the reverse is also true. Here in the USA, we (I include myself) often use TLA's instead of full words.

Best tips:
1. spend a few minutes on your next call sharing your versions of accounting terms, like Reclass, CTA, AR v debtors, AP v creditors, 12/31 v 31st December, etc.
2. Use the full word first of all (in voice or text) then you can switch to the abbreviation.

PS - I assume I don't need to explain what a TLA is :)

Robert Ewalt
Title: Exam Development Manager
Company: Institute of Certified Management Accoun..
(Exam Development Manager, Institute of Certified Management Accountants) |

I grew up on the US side of the border with Canada, so I have been intrigued with different usages in English. Note that "scheme" is often used in British to mean plan, as in Retirement Scheme. In American, "scheme" means something a little shady, as in a plot.

PS I don't know what a TLA is.

(Finance Director / Controller) |

UK finance personnel use the term "redundant" when referring to reorgs/terms. I guess there is no nice way to say it, but...

Len Green
Title: Performance Improvement Consultant and E..
Company: Haygarth Consulting LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Performance Improvement Consultant and ERP Strategist, Haygarth Consulting LLC) |

TLA = three letter acronym (also could include 2 and 4 letter versions):)

(Agent, JKS Solutions, Inc.) |

Love that - people separated by a common language, so true.

The best advice is this, do not use quick terminology, refer to standards to clarify the topic, and explain things the long way around with full sentences. Non American cultures don't short cut as much as we do in the US.

Reclass means transfer from one balance sheet account to the other.

Adjust means move something between the balance sheet and the income statement.

In the US, reclass is used for every accounting entry, so you can imagine the confusion. I often have to ask US accountants to tell me which accounts they are going to hit because I can't rely on what they think "reclass" is.

So there.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, |

It doesn't need to beUS vs abroad concept, it can be generational.


I was working with a gentleman who learned MRP and manufacturing probably 20 years after I did. Not much changed, but lingo.

I used the term "ABC costing" in reference to manufacturing and relationships to inventory turnovers and/or cost.

He was using the term "vector codes ". After we compared notes, we were on the same page, talking about the same concepts, just different terms.

This happened a few times, during our relationship.


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