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Here is my problem: is it always ground floor, then first floor, or can the floors be counted first floor, second floor etc.?

Does the count always begin with the ground floor or can it begin with the first floor?
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As far as I know, it depend on whether you're in the USA or in the UK Emotion: smile

Here's an excerpt from the OALD:

In BrE the floor of a building at street level is the ground floor, the one above it is the first floor and the one below it is the basement, or lower ground floor in a public building.

In NAmE the floor at street level is usually called the first floor, the one above it is the second floor and the one below it is the basement. In public buildings the floor at street level can also be called the ground floor.
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Thanks!

And what about Ireland?
Take a look at
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Storey

(middle part)

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Ireland uses the same system as the UK.
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.