E015 Tinnie

Welcome to English with Kimberley.

In this episode, I want to talk to you about two containers we buy food in and drink in, and how this can be confusing for both native English and non-native English speakers.

For example, I can buy a can of soft drink or a tin of soup – but not a tin of soft drink or a can of soup. Except, can I?

As always, a quiz to start with just for fun.

The word ‘tinnie’, in Australia, is never used for…

a) a can of beer?

b) a war medal?

c) a small metal boat?

or d) to describe something very small?

OK. Let’s hear that again.

Remember, it’s ‘never’!

So, in Australia, the word ‘tinnie’ is never used for…

a) a can of beer?

b) a war medal?

c) a small metal boat?

or d) to describe something very small?

Well, did you get d) because when we describe something small we often use the word ‘tiny’ not ‘tinnie’. But in Australian, ‘tinnie’ can be used to mean a can of beer, a war medal or a small metal boat.

By the way, some people find a ‘can of something’ and ‘a tin of something’ confusing because in Australia you often hear or see both being used in advertising, on food labels and in speech.

So why? What is the deference between ‘can’ and ‘tin’? Search the internet and you’ll see many points of view given from the container’s shape, the metal it is made from – that is, aluminium for ‘can’ and tin for ‘tin’, whether the container has a lid, to whether you are using British of American English. For example, American English uses ‘can’ for everything.

I’m British and have always thought, where the contents are liquid, I can buy a can off something. For example, a can of soft drink, can of beer, of coconut milk, of fruit juice, of tomato soup and so on.

And whenever I buy something that isn’t a liquid, I buy a tin of something. For example, tin of tuna, tin of tomatoes, tin of vegetable soup, tin of peas, beans, sweet corn and so on.

So, finally, our end of podcast quiz.

Which of these is not correct according to my explanation of when to use ‘can’ and ‘tin’?

a) Tin of bamboo shoots.

b) Can of salmon.

c) Tin of baked beans.

or d) Can of lemonade.

And again….

Which of these is not correct according to my explanation of when to use ‘can’ and ‘tin’?

a) Tin of bamboo shoots.

b) Can of salmon.

c) Tin of baked beans.

or d) Can of lemonade.

I bet you guessed b) ‘can of salmon’ because salmon is not a liquid – it’s a fish! So, should be ‘tin of salmon’ not ‘can of salmon’.

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If you’d like to learn more about the grammar related to this week’s podcast’s, why don’t you download episode nine ‘A Bottle of Beer’.

You can also find a script of this podcast at www.goaustralia.biz

I hope you have enjoyed this podcast and you’ll join me again.