This tag is for questions related to the English language as used in the United States of America.

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9
votes
4answers
637 views

What do they mean with “Hi, how are you doing”?

When I was in New York the workers at the counter (in a shop) always said Hi, how are you doing I was, and still am very confused if they just mean "hello", or actually want to know how I feel. ...
5
votes
1answer
155 views

Why are only some “u” words pronounced with a glide in American English?

In most words with a long U that doesn't start a syllable, it is pronounced /uː/. Examples: student, reduce, introduce. However, in some words (such as music, mule, human) it is pronounced /juː/. I've ...
-2
votes
0answers
19 views

how can i reword this sentence without using the word you [on hold]

I am writing an essay and I am stuck on a sentence which is: What kind of personality do you have? I need to reword that sentence without using the word "you"
-1
votes
0answers
8 views

What is the best word for the wish to learning something? e.g. Learnwish -but doesn`t exist, right? [migrated]

if you could answer me your favorite word for a "wish to learn something" then I would be really glad. Thank you very much, best Felix
3
votes
3answers
13k views

“I second that motion” or “I second that notion”

Context: We are purchasing a monitor and in an email someone wrote, "Bob, let's get two of these" and posted a URL. If I were to followup, which would be more appropriate and why? "I second that ...
4
votes
2answers
144 views

Where do people pronounce “ank” as /eŋk/ vs. /æŋk/?

Let's use "bank" as an example. Some Americans pronounce it /bæŋk/, using the vowel of TRAP. Others pronounce it /beŋk/, using the vowel of FACE. Where are these two pronunciations found?
0
votes
1answer
83 views

Which of the following works best on a business card? [on hold]

I am Minh Tran Nhat Nguyen. I later picked "Michael" as my English name when I first came to the U.S. Not everyone knows my English name (especially Americans) so I'm thinking about putting one of ...
67
votes
28answers
8k views

Is there an American English equivalent of the British idiom “carrying coals to Newcastle”?

I'm an American living in the Netherlands who is learning Dutch. There's an idiom in Dutch that describes performing a needless/futile activity, "water naar de zee dragen," which literally translates ...
1
vote
2answers
63 views

What did Kate mean when she said: “(…)? Or did Big Pussy and Meadow miss you too much?”

In the 2014 film “The Other Woman”, there is an exchange between several characters Phil: Who's this? Carmela: I'm Carmela, Kate's decorator. Phil: Oh. Really? When did you fire ...
2
votes
0answers
94 views

What does “A Gossip Girl in Sweet Valley with traveling pants” mean?

In the 2010 film Easy A, there is an exchange between several characters: Rhiannon: Aren't you supposed to be like, eternally in love with him, and shit? Olive Penderghast: Yes, I believe ...
10
votes
6answers
528 views

Why is the English devil “old”?

Looking up the etymology of the Devil's nickname, Old Nick, I came across this article in OUPblog written by Anatoly Liberman For some reason, devils, at least in English, are often called old: ...
6
votes
5answers
5k views

What is the origin of the colloquial term “bum” meaning a homeless person?

Just out of curiosity, I was wondering about the history of the term "bum" meaning a homeless person, not the UK version referring to someone's posterior. Bonus: If you know the background on "Hobo" ...
5
votes
3answers
719 views

“Ma'am” or “Miss” in American English?

Is it common to address a female sales clerk as Miss in the US? What about ma'am? If neither is proper, what would you suggest?
1
vote
1answer
40 views

What word describes a person that demonstrates “poor priorities?” [on hold]

What is a word that means "poor priorities?" (Typically would be used to describe a person.)
5
votes
2answers
4k views

Meaning of “boroughs of New York City”

What does borough mean? Does the word have a different meaning when used in the five boroughs of New York City?
6
votes
8answers
2k views

What's the informal word for a small challenge?

Example: I challenge you to get her number. If you get it, you earn a beer. It's sort of a friendly bet. It's a short 3-5 letter word. I've heard it but can't recall it. Please help. Something ...
6
votes
3answers
2k views

Why do Americans call hair that turns white “gray hair” not “white hair?” [closed]

I searched on YouTube for the reason why hair turns white then I found that Americans called it gray hair not white hair. In my opinion, its color is white so I don't understand why they call it gray ...
0
votes
2answers
44 views

Availability to meet vs availability to meeting?

I'm writing a thank you email to thank a person for finding the time to meet with me. Which of the following two forms is correct, and why? I wanted to thank you again for your availability to meet ...
13
votes
7answers
4k views

When did the term “flip flop” displace the term “thong” in North America for a type of sandal?

To Australians like me "thong" means a kind of sandal such as recently repopularized by the Havaianas brand but we know it means a kind of G-string in other English-speaking parts of the world. To ...
0
votes
2answers
22 views

Usage in defining an action because of someone else

I was at the bar and got a beer because my buddy typically drank them. I stated "I ordered this beer in his image". But I feel there is an expression to say "I performed this action because it's ...
5
votes
3answers
99 views

Question on lack of comma usage

My English teacher took some points off on a recent paper of mine based on improper comma usage, so I'm coming here for clarification. Here are the examples. The [x]'s indicate where the commas were ...
10
votes
7answers
12k views

Is there a different understanding of “rubber” in British and American English?

I was well aware of the different meanings of rubber, not least because there are the same definitions in my mother-tongue. However, while reading a text about differences between British and American ...
0
votes
2answers
66 views

What is the most appropriate opposite of “Select All”?

Is it more appropriate to use "Deselect All" or "Select None" or some other phrase to indicate the opposite of "Select All"? Context: A toggle button in a piece of software that will select all items ...
0
votes
0answers
27 views

Use of the word “definitive edition”

Can I use the phrase "definitive edition" to explain that a product has the most up-to-date and highest quality in the field as opposite to mean "last edition of the same series"? Thank you for your ...
-1
votes
1answer
121 views

What does “ambush Prince Charming's wife” mean?

In the 2014 film “The Other Woman”, there is an exchange between several characters King Kate: So what do I do now? So I'm, now I'm Barb Melman? Barb Melman got divorced and now she has cheek ...
1
vote
1answer
53 views

Is “Goldbrick” commonly used in American English?

I came across the slang term "Goldbrick" in the American WWII cartoon Private Snafu The Goldbrick (Warning: possibly sexist at the start, and possibly racist near the end). I'd never heard the word ...
26
votes
6answers
2k views

How did “stuck-up” get to mean “snob”?

I was inclined to believe that the expression "stuck-up", meaning staying aloof from others because one thinks one is superior, had its origins with somebody's nose stuck (up) in the air and yet, ...
2
votes
4answers
99 views

Which of “chafing at the bit” or “chomping at the bit” is more accepted/proper?

I've used "chafing at the bit" for quite some time, but have also heard "chomping at the bit" as a way to indicate impatience, etc. Which of these two is the more "proper" or accepted variant?
1
vote
0answers
28 views

Help with email to customer: negative balance [closed]

can someone help me with this please. Need to write an email to customer who forgot to paid and so his/her balance became negative. It is related to prepaid service... Thank you. Dear ...
5
votes
1answer
70 views

How do I interpret “emissions of car operated over” in this sentence?

I was trying to answer a question on skeptics.stackexchange.com, where we found this paragraph in a scientific report: This compares to 1,374 tons per day statewide for passenger cars. While ...
21
votes
7answers
659 views

Eww! Has it crossed the pond yet?

I hear eww (sometimes spelt as ew) fairly regularly on American sitcoms, usually uttered by a scatterbrained beautiful blonde girl when she sees or hears something disgusting. I don't recall it ever ...
0
votes
3answers
52 views

All I know vs. Alls I know

Are the two sayings proper English? "Alls I know" and "All I know" Alls I know just sounds bad to me, but while people agree, no one can tell me if it is right or wrong.
5
votes
5answers
13k views

Where does the term Cracker come from, and how disparaging is it?

My grandmother from Georgia openly refers to herself and other white southerners as "Crackers", and sometimes adds a state as in "Georgia Cracker" or "Florida Cracker". She says it means simple folks ...
1
vote
1answer
89 views

How do I use “as of now” correctly?

Just to clarify, I am not a native English speaker. I occasionally hear from other non-native English speakers the use of the phrase: "As of now" with the meaning of Currently. Initially I did not ...
7
votes
1answer
120 views

Batman vs. Maxwell Smart. Who said, “Good thinking, …!” first?

Recently, I've come across the catchphrase, "Good thinking, [name/noun]!" three times on ELU. The first was in a question referring to Terry Pratchett's catchphrase "Good thinking, that man!" 1 The ...
1
vote
3answers
216 views

Where does the slang word “bad” + “ass” (badass) come from?

What is the origin of the word badass? Why a "bad" ass/"bad" + "ass"? What is an ass that is bad and how can an ass that is bad describe a tough person?
0
votes
1answer
47 views

Can “unto” be used instead of “onto” in American English?

Is there a difference in how the preposition "onto" is used in British and American English? I always understood it to match the following dictionary definition I found online, and was not aware of ...
-1
votes
2answers
46 views

Take my word for it or take my word for this? [closed]

Me and a friend got into an argument. He says that you can say "Take my word for this". I say that the proper use is "Take my word for it". Could someone elaborate on each of those and tell us who is ...
0
votes
2answers
82 views

“Named for” vs. “named after”

As a Brit, I'm used to the phrase named after being used to say how something got its name. For example, in Wikipedia's List of eponymous roads in London, we read that Addison Road is named after the ...
1
vote
1answer
38 views

What's the subordinate clause type for these two that-clause sentences below?

I am always confused about what type of subordinate clause "that" can connect. So there are two sentence below: So far the torpedo has proved a damp squib, with observers arguing that Europe has not ...
5
votes
3answers
321 views

Interpretation of a quote from “Easy A” (the 2010 film) [closed]

In the 2010 film "Easy A", there is an exchange between several characters: Rhiannon: George is not a sexy name. George is like what you name your teddy bear, not the name you wanna scream out ...
2
votes
1answer
53 views

Omission of 'for' with various quantified time intervals: influence of verb

I came across these two examples, given to illustrate 'a case' where the inclusion of the preposition for is considered optional in the paper "Acquisition of Preposition Deletion by Non-native ...
2
votes
1answer
173 views

Present Perfect, American English and “since”

I'm wondering: I was always taught at school that when using "since", you always have to use Present Perfect (BrE), e.g. Since when have you played chess? But is Since when did you play ...
4
votes
2answers
303 views

Is a 'peeve' the same thing as a 'gripe'?

Many times on this site have I heard something described as a 'peeve'. My sense is that this is American. Although the verb, usually in the passive - he was peeved because he had been given the ...
16
votes
5answers
8k views

Can or should “ask” ever be used as a noun?

"The ask is that you provide me with..." I started hearing "ask" being used as a noun a few years ago. Is this a recent trend? Is it an East Coast thing, unique to North America, or just unique to ...
7
votes
4answers
898 views

“Muppet” in American English

I see an event is being organised in Washington, DC, called the Million Muppet March. In British English (at least) a muppet has no very positive a connotation:- muppet (ˈmʌpɪt) — n slang ...
0
votes
2answers
31 views

How to phrase “analysis into a company”

I want to say : Analysis conducted at a insurance company showed that... or Analysis into a insurance company showed that... What is the best way to phrase this?
1
vote
0answers
50 views

British English vs American English [closed]

As an English learner it always make me confuse to know that a specific word / phrase use in which English language countries ? Is there any way that I can check a word or phrase to know that it uses ...
0
votes
1answer
16 views

Usage of too while comparing two places

While in a conversation about a place xyz which is facing water scarcity, if another place abc is also having water scarcity, which sentence would be correct:- I know xyz has water scarcity, but is ...
15
votes
11answers
7k views

American vs. British English: meaning of “One hundred and fifty”

I've noticed that Americans do not say "and" when speaking numbers: for example, 150 would be pronounced "one hundred fifty". I and most other British-English speakers would pronounce it "one hundred ...