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English at the Movies, or English at the Films?

Ask a Teacher: Movie versus Film
Ask a Teacher: Movie versus Film
English at the Movies, or English at the Films?
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This week we answer a question from Quyunh.


Our reader Quyunh writes, “May I know what is difference between a film and a movie ? You have a program named 'English at a movie' why not 'English at a film' ?”


Dear Quyunh,

Thank you for writing in with two good questions.

Film and movie mean the same thing. The word you use may help others guess where a person lives or is from.

First, let’s look at the word film. One definition is the special material used for taking photographs. But you can also see a film in a theater. Used this way, film and movie mean the same thing.

And as a verb, to film means to record something with a video camera.

Here is an example:

“Do you want me to film the ceremony so you can remember it?”

Now let’s turn to movie. The word – a noun - comes from the phrase “moving pictures.”

Movies -- and films -- are recordings of moving images that tell a story.

Here are some example sentences with the word movie:

“Do you want to go to the movies tonight?”

“If you go to Hollywood in California, you might see a movie star.”

In the United States, it is common to say “the movies” for when you talk about going to a movie theater.

Here is an example for you:

“Do you know what’s playing at the movies this weekend?”

Stephen Follows is a writer, producer and film data researcher who lives in England. He wrote that people who work in the film industry use ‘film’ more than ‘movie.’

People who live in the U.S., he found, usually say ‘movie’, while those in Britain use both. ‘Film’ is still popular in Europe and parts of Africa, but ‘movie’ is best in the Americas, as well as in Japan and India.

So -- that is why we say “English at the Movies” and not “English at the Films!”

And that’s Ask a Teacher!

I’m Anne Ball.

Anne Ball wrote this story for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

Do you have a question for the teacher? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section. Tell us where you are from and how to pronounce your name!


Words in This Story

phrase - n. a group of two or more words that express a single idea but do not usually form a complete sentence

producer – n. someone who is in charge of making and usually providing the money for a play, movie or record