The ground floor and first floor in British and American English
Let’s take a look at a small but important difference in British and American English: the naming of floors in a building.
In British English the floor of a building at street level is called the ground floor. The floor above it is the first floor and the floor below is called the basement.
In American English, however, the floor at street level is usually called the first floor. Go up one floor and you are on the second floor (which, of course, is the first floor for the British). The floor below street level is called the basement, the same as in British English.
One or two of my American friends tell me that in public buildings in the US it’s also possible to call the street-level floor the ground floor, like in Britain.
Storey, storeys / story, stories
Another important word to consider here is storey. This word describes the level (height) of a building and the total number of its floors. Thus we say that a building has eight storeys, or is an eight-storey building (don’t forget the hyphen there, please!)
From the word ‘storey’ we get single-storey and multi-storey buildings. Just to make it more confusing, storey is often spelled story (plural ‘stories’) in American English.
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