OWL Magazine Korea

British Style Floor Numbering: The First Floor in Hong Kong is Not the First Floor?

Hong Kong had a history of being a British colony. Even though it was returned to China in 1999, due to the long-lasting influence of British rule, remnants of British culture can still be found in Hong Kong.

You can discover traces of British influence in everyday life, such as the use of British-style English, the transportation system, and the way floors are labeled in buildings.

“Using British-style English in Hong Kong”

Currently, Hong Kong uses both English and Cantonese (Chinese) interchangeably. Among these, it’s British-style English, rather than the American English we’re familiar with, that is used.

One aspect that particularly affects daily life is the way floors are labeled in buildings.

In American English, the first floor is referred to as the “First Floor.” However, in British-style English, the “First Floor” in American terms is labeled as the “Ground Floor,” and what Americans call the second floor, the British refer to as the “First Floor.”

As a result, what we consider the third floor is labeled as the second floor in the British-style floor numbering. This distinction can be quite confusing for visitors to Hong Kong, as it differs from what we are used to in Korea.

Even after hearing about it, visiting Hong Kong and encountering this unfamiliar system may still cause some confusion.