I know that British people say "holiday" and American say "vacation".

But the confusing part is how they are used as countable and uncountable nouns.

Say, you don't have to go to work on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday because your country is celebrating an important event.

I am sure we can say "We have a 3-day vacation".

But I don't think we say "We have a 3-day holiday"

I guess we might say "we have 3 holidays".

Is it correct to say "We have a 3-day holiday" in British English?

  • In Britain, we have statutory holidays called 'bank holidays', and at Easter we have the Friday before Easter ('Good Friday') and the Monday after Easter ('Easter Monday'), so that is a weekend with two bank holidays. Commented May 2, 2023 at 15:22
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    When there is a national holiday, we don't say vacation in AmE or BrE. We have a three-day weekend or a long weekend because Friday or Monday is a holiday. I don't bother trying to enter an answer with these questions because you never seem to close out any questions.
    – Lambie
    Commented May 2, 2023 at 15:28
  • We have a convention that numbers smaller than some limit (often 11) are written as words, so yes, if three consecutive weekdays are official holidays (but that would never happen in the UK), we can say 'we have a three-day holiday', or a three-day break, or three days off. Generally a (mostly American) vacation is a trip away, not just a break from work. Commented May 2, 2023 at 15:56
  • Your "we have three holidays" means three distinct holidays, each of which might be one day or many days. Commented May 2, 2023 at 16:15
  • It would often be a four or five day holiday, since you normally get the weekend off anyway....
    – James K
    Commented 2 days ago

3 Answers 3


Yes, it's fine to say a three-day holiday.

Brits don't use the word vacation at all. That's an entirely American construct. [We understand it, but it's still an imported word we never would actually use.] We have no definition other than context to differentiate 'time away on a Greek beach' from 'a few days off work, but still at home'.
AmE is simpler in this respect, if you're going away it's a vacation. If it's just time off work, it's a holiday. Some of the newspapers in the UK are trying to persuade us that 'staycation' could be a word for time off, staying at home, but I'm not convinced yet.

So, 'a three-day holiday' is just fine, as is a 'three-day weekend' if the Friday or Monday is a holiday. Any finer distinctions, such as which days, will have to be provided as further information/clarification.

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    A three-day holiday is not a three-day weekend. I went to Paris on a three-day holiday. [I took three days off work.].
    – Lambie
    Commented May 2, 2023 at 15:29
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    I think one needs to explain it, though. That is, it does not involve any officially declared holiday.
    – Lambie
    Commented May 2, 2023 at 15:53
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    Yes, UK universities used it even when I was a student 50 years ago. But no-one calls a public holiday a vacation. Commented May 2, 2023 at 16:56
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    Not circles I tend to hang out in. I'll bet 95% of Brits don't know this usage exists. Commented May 2, 2023 at 17:42
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    @DoneWithThis. - considering that just about everybody seems to go to 'uni' (yuk!) these days, I wouldn't bet on that. Commented May 2, 2023 at 21:51

It's worth noting that in the UK, nearly all national holidays are deliberately placed on a Monday (the exceptions being Christmas, Boxing Day, New Year's Day and Good Friday). So, if you exclude the Christmas to New Year period, all bank holidays extend the weekend to be a 3 (or, during Easter, 4) day weekend. Because of this, the typical phrasing is either "three day weekend" or "bank holiday weekend".

In your example you ask what it would be called if the country didn't have to go to work on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of a week - it is very unlikely that the government would approve that - but if that was the case then a "three day holiday" or a "5 day weekend" is probably how it would be phrased.

  • Good Friday is handily adjacent to a weekend. In 2022 the UK Early Spring Bank Holiday was moved from the first Monday in May to Thursday 2 June to add to the extra Bank Holiday (3 June) for the queen's platinum jubilee, so making a four-day weekend. Commented May 2, 2023 at 20:31

Dont say "We have three holidays" unless it goes something like 1 day being Christmas, the next day being Kwanzaa, and the third being Hanukkah. It is still a single holiday as they are three consecutive days. "Three-day holiday" is good if you are in Britain.

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