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I was off work yesterday.

I had the day off work yesterday.

They both mean that you didn't go to work yesterday but they have different connotations to me. "I was off work yesterday" doesn't say why you were off work. I would expect to hear this phrase if you were sick, for instance. "I had the day off work yesterday" would mean that you took a vacation day.

Could you explain to me what is "took a vacation day"?

I can understand it as, "I went for a journey so I took the holiday and my salary will be cut for the day because it was not official holiday".
Comments  
vacation day/holiday day/annual leave day

These don't say anything to do with what you did on the day so don't assume that someone went on a journey. You also don't know if the company pays people for these days or not, so don't make any assumptions there. Nothing in the sentence tells you whether they are paid or not.

All of these are booked holiday leave days but different countries and companies use different words for them. Normally an employee has a certain number of days per year that they can take off in this way. Depending on the law in the country and the company's own policies, these may be paid or unpaid. For example, in the UK, all employees are legally entitled to 24 days per year paid holiday.
You took the day as part of your holiday [vacation] entitlement. Remember that "vacation" in the US is synonymous with "holiday" in the UK. It does not necessarily mean travelling anywhere.
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Sorry to hijack again, but I just saw the 24 days of paid holiday by law - wow! Does that include the "bank holidays" when everything is closed, or are those all days at your discretion? (In the US, it's not uncommon start with only 10 days of paid time off, and no one I know has more than four weeks. But there are also about 10 days when it's usually a paid holiday, like Christmas. So with 24 days off, I think I'm moving to the UK either way!)
I know it's not bad is it, I wish I still got all that, but as self-employed of course I don't Emotion: sad. I've heard that Americans don't get much holiday.

At the moment the 24 days can include the statutory bank holidays, but the law is going to change on that soon to make it 24 days plus the bank holidays. This is all quite recent though and until a few years ago companies didn't have to give you any paid holiday. When I went back to work full-time after being a mum I got the grand total of 10 days holiday a year, which made life awfully difficult! One year I negotiated an extra 5 days holiday instead of a payrise.
Wow. So basically, five full weeks of paid time off, plus the official bank holidays. That's it - I'm moving there. You can put us up for a few weeks until we get our feet on the ground, right Nona? Emotion: wink
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sure Emotion: big smile
Nona The BritI know it's not bad is it, I wish I still got all that, but as self-employed of course I don't Emotion: sad. I've heard that Americans don't get much holiday.

At the moment the 24 days can include the statutory bank holidays, but the law is going to change on that soon to make it 24 days plus the bank holidays. This is all quite recent though and until a few years ago companies didn't have to give you any paid holiday. When I went back to work full-time after being a mum I got the grand total of 10 days holiday a year, which made life awfully difficult! One year I negotiated an extra 5 days holiday (Hi, What is the difference, if any, of saying "I took a 5-day company holiday" and "I took company holidays of 5 days"? Can "holiday" without an "s" mean a period of 5 days here? Thank you,) instead of a payrise.
It means that Nona negotiated to have five days' paid holiday - it is not stated whether these are consecutive days or individual days [though I expect it was consecutive]..
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