Which one of the following expressions are fixed and natural English expressions? If both, then I was wondering whether there is there any difference brtween them?

1.1. Primary school
1.2. Elementary school


2.1. Primary education
2.2. Elementary education

I am asking this question, because if you google them, you will immediately find out that the both constructions exixet. Does it mean that they are interchangeable?


  • Brian has a univerity education, but his wife has ........... education.
    a. elementary
    b. primary

PS. the only thing that I found in English forums is that:

They say "primary school" in the United Kingdom (British English) and they say "elementary school" in the United States (American English).

But, I don't know whether it is applicable to "education" too.

  • 2
    Every country has its own educational system and corresponding terminology. Indeed, different systems can exist in the same country, and by the same token, the same term may mean different things in different locales.
    – choster
    Jun 22, 2020 at 12:49

1 Answer 1


As you point out, this differs between BrEnd and AmEng. It may also differ between countries.

In England, there are a number of terms we use:

  • Primary (age 4-11) sometimes also called "junior school"
  • Secondary (age 11-16) sometimes also called "high school"
  • Further education (typically age 16-18) also called College, or Sixth Form. This is still "non-advanced education"
  • Tertiary / Higher education (aged 18+) eg University education, degree-level

You will find these terms used along with "education". Particularly noteworthy is the fact that that tertiary education is never referred to as being in a "school", so if you can have "tertiary education" it stands to reason you can also say "primary and secondary education".

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