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

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2
votes
1answer
751 views

Where did the idiom “scot-free” come from? [closed]

As in, that criminal got off scot-free despite a mountain of evidence that would seem to indicate his guilt.
3
votes
4answers
2k views

Convolve vs. convolute

I understand that for common usage these words have distinct meanings. However in mathematics there is a process called convolution, and sometimes you hear "you need to convolve X" and sometimes "you ...
9
votes
1answer
380 views

What are the correct spelling and regional distribution of “X, schmX” to indicate dismissiveness (e.g., “evidence, schmevidence”)?

There is a curious construct in American English in which a word is stated and then repeated with the prefix "schm-" or "shm-" in order to indicate the speaker's dismissive attitude toward a concern ...
5
votes
6answers
905 views

What is the origin of the -ass speech?

I am spending one month in the US and it seems that everything is "big ass", "lame ass", and "crazy ass". What is the purpose of modifying every adjective with "ass"? Is this an Americanism or some ...
5
votes
1answer
3k views

Why is it 'speaking'/'speech' instead of 'speeking'/'speech' or 'speaking'/'speach'?

Why is it speaking/speech instead of speeking/speech or speaking/speach?
0
votes
2answers
510 views

Explanation of sentence [closed]

I don't understand this sentence.... I know the meaning of all words except distinct... I looked in dictionary.. but I don't understand..:/ Output the number of distinct values when considered MOD ...
4
votes
1answer
217 views

Why use “constitutionality” instead of “constitutional”? [closed]

This morning I heard the word "constitutionality" being used by a journalist with regard to the debate over the legality of health care reforms here in the US. This grates on my British ears as I ...
5
votes
3answers
2k views

How should I describe 2:45?

What is the most common way to express 2:45, using quarter, in the US? Quarter of three? Quarter to three? Quarter till three?
5
votes
1answer
2k views
+50

Distinctive features of English diphthongs

I am looking for a table of distinctive features for English dipthongs along the lines of that available for other vowels here. I don't trust my purely book learned linguistic skills to produce an ...
-2
votes
1answer
4k views

English phrases/expressions and their meanings [closed]

In English we have expressions/phrases that come from the combination of two or more words, conjunctions, etc. These expressions have their own metaphorical meanings, which could be used in specific ...
5
votes
3answers
1k views

What does “E-Z” mean?

Is it an abbreviation or is it used instead "A-Z"? I have seen it being used multiple places: E-Z cook oven E-Z Hiscores
3
votes
1answer
11k views

“Have a breakfast” or “eat a breakfast” in AmE

Which expression do Americans prefer, have a breakfast or eat a breakfast?
2
votes
1answer
74 views

Go on/to the web page [closed]

Which is the correct way to say this? "Please go on the home page to register" or "Please go to the home page to register"?
3
votes
3answers
17k views

“If I go..” vs. “If I will go..” referring to the future [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Future tense in conditional clauses Which one is correct? option 1: If I go there, I can meet her or option 2: If I will go there, I can meet her I clearly ...
2
votes
1answer
490 views

How to specify dates in a U.S. résumé?

What is the correct (or at least preferred) way of formatting dates in a résumé whenever you don't need to specify a day? For example, I am using the format “May 2011”, but I don’t know whether I ...
3
votes
2answers
2k views

British versus American English? [closed]

Anyone know how much of the world uses British versus American English?
1
vote
4answers
3k views

What do you call the base amount for a loan, investment etc?

If I get a mortgage from the bank I pay interest every month, same when I invest money, I make profit every year. How do you call the actual amount I invested or borrowed? It's *__ + interest* or ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

How do I spell “subdistrict”?

Geographically, there are voting districts, taxing districts, and school districts. There are also subdistricts. I have found different spellings of this word (subdistrict, sub district, ...
-1
votes
1answer
105 views

How do I improve on this question from the suggestion given? [closed]

I wrote: How do we visualize something that is a independent of experience? How do we visualize green for example without ever seeing it? We can describe it through language but we would never have ...
1
vote
2answers
191 views

“Summoning something into life” vs. “summoning something to life”

What is the difference between the following? Summoning ... into life Summoning ... to life If it helps, I want to use the word idea in the place of dots so it's like: Summoning ...
36
votes
6answers
111k views

What is the difference between dialogue and dialog?

I am American, and I always thought the difference between dialogue and dialog was one of meaning, the way Merriam-Webster has them listed: 2 entries found: dialogue (noun) dialog box ...
3
votes
1answer
1k views

Order of preposition in US and UK English

In Britain we'd say He had a black hat on. Speakers of American English are more likely to say* He had on a black hat. The latter just seems wrong to me. Is my intuition correct or are ...
1
vote
4answers
31k views

What does “deader than a doornail” mean? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What does “dead as a door nail” mean? What does "deader than a doornail" mean? I've read the word plenty of times but don't know the meaning to it.
3
votes
3answers
508 views

Is “Most of the world does not distinguish captions from subtitles” true?

In the wikipedia article about closed captioning one reads Most of the world does not distinguish captions from subtitles. In the United States and Canada, these terms do have different meanings, ...
1
vote
1answer
1k views

Mixing British and American spellings in writing [closed]

I like color more than colour, but I like favourite more than favorite. For me it is better to write My favourite color is blue. Is it wrong to mix British and American spellings in writing, and ...
4
votes
8answers
13k views

How to answer “Is this John?” on phone

What is the most appropriate answer (American way)? Yes, John speaking. Yes, it is him. Yes, it is he. Yes. Yes, speaking. I need to answer calls when interviewers/hiring managers ...
2
votes
1answer
67 views

Does “fare” apply to non-persons?

If one pays for transportation of oneself a fare has been paid. What is paid if the transportation is of a non-person object (a parcel, a letter, a vegetable, a box of rocks)?
1
vote
3answers
837 views

How exactly to pronounce 'alphabetical' and 'pharmaceutical' in American English [closed]

How does one pronounce 'alphabetical' and 'pharmaceutical' in American English? Is it phar•ma•ceu•di•cal or phar•ma•ceu•i•cal? And is it al•pha•bet•di•cal or al•pha•bet•i•cal? Do you pronounce 'ti' ...
10
votes
6answers
6k views

What are the percentages of the parts of speech in English?

What are the percentages of the parts of speech in English? For instance, what percent of English is comprised of nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.? I have done an extensive web search using a ...
-9
votes
3answers
1k views

Is “Honouree” correct in British English? [closed]

I seem to only find Honoree in the web, but Word spell corrector indicates me that I should write HonoUree. Which form is correct?
0
votes
1answer
244 views

What's the proper synonym for purchase when used in real-estate context?

How to say Buying Price Purchase Price You name it Note, I need the 'buying' term, as opposed to Sale Price. It's for a form where the user should fill in how much he paid for the apartment and ...
8
votes
1answer
2k views

What's the difference between “Yours sincerely” and “Sincerely yours”?

I have read online that "Yours sincerely" is British English and "Sincerely yours" is American English. Is this true? Or is the difference in formality? I think the first one is more formal and the ...
8
votes
6answers
59k views

'Expired' or 'Passed away'?

When someone dies, do we say they expired or passed away? Does the word expired give any more respect when used? Or less respect than passed away?
-1
votes
3answers
12k views

Is 'smth' a correct abbreviation in American English?

How common is the usage of 'smth' in American English as an abbreviation of 'something'?
4
votes
2answers
429 views

Does “Stop aping!” sound natural?

A teenager is acting in a very silly and annoying way making faces and rapidly changing his postures. His father gets really annoyed by it and tells him "Stop aping!" Does "Stop aping!" go okay here ...
4
votes
3answers
752 views

Usage and confusion on “geek” and “hipster”

Within the circle I regularly communicate with the meaning of these words is commonly understood: Geek - someone with an obsessive interest in one field. Hipster - someone who ironically apes geek ...
17
votes
5answers
10k views

ON an American street, but IN a British one. Do the twain ever meet?

In the United States, we say that someone lives on a street, whereas I've noticed that British people say in. For instance: Bubba lives on Washington Street. Colin lives in Cavendish Avenue. I ...
-2
votes
2answers
810 views

Pronunciation of “xenophobia,” “xenon,” and “Xena” [closed]

I've heard all of the above words with X as zeh. Is that an American English thing? What's the correct way to pronounce each word?
0
votes
3answers
1k views

Use of “pence” to refer to sum of money

I encountered an article on Dictionary.com that says that pennies are not used to refer to a sum of money but rather the coins themselves. It went on to say that the term pence was used to refer to a ...
5
votes
6answers
1k views

“Mic” as an abbreviation for microwave

Last week, I was among a group of friends and commented on the fact that someone had removed a sticker from their microwave. I used the word "mic" to abbreviate microwave, and people thought I was ...
6
votes
4answers
1k views

The term 'vocal fry': where does it come from?

On a recent Language Log posting Vocal fry: "creeping in" or "still here"?, Mark Liberman discusses an (also) recent article about the phenomenon of 'vocal fry' and shows how it has been around for ...
3
votes
4answers
20k views

“And to you” or “you too”?

I really like to chat with English folks, so I have wished them Merry Christmas. To my surprise I have noticed the following pattern — the British answered "and to you", but Americans "you too". The ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

What is a “cracker-barrel sage”?

What is a cracker-barrel sage? Context: The influence of many years spent in America talking to (and often down to) Americans also gave his performance a kind of Barnum quality: Hitchens the ...
3
votes
2answers
958 views

Is “shvisle” a real or made up word? [closed]

I've come across the word in this captchart: "Yo, my nizzle, can you pass me that shvisle?". Is it supposed to mean something? I've easly found the meaning of nizzle, but I'm at a loss with shvisle. ...
-1
votes
3answers
249 views

Why is the word “before” vanishing from common use?

Just in the last four years, I've noticed that the word prior is increasingly used in place of before. Prior has become customary enough that people commonly leave off 'to' in employing it: "Most of ...
0
votes
4answers
25k views

Pronunciation of “Porsche” over time

Is there an official pronunciation for Porsche? I grew up pronouncing it with a silent final e ("Porsh"). However, I've increasingly heard it was pronunced with a neutral e sound at the end ...
3
votes
1answer
148 views

Meaning of “float a deadpoint”

In a book about climbing technique (written by an American) I found the following expression: ...: floating a deadpoint from any one of a million different body positions. While the meaning of ...
19
votes
4answers
9k views

Dialects where days of the week end with “dee”?

Someone recently posted a question about the pronunciation of Wednesday, which reminded me of a different question about pronouncing the days of the week I've had floating around in my head for a ...
2
votes
1answer
1k views

Significance of BrE vs AmE in the US [closed]

I've been working on a thesis concerning the differences between British English and American English. I studied that in the past a standardization of American English was refused, even if spoken and ...
4
votes
3answers
2k views

Clarifying the usage of “hella”

The word hella has spread from the Southern California dialect to the point where most varieties of American English speaker (such as me in the Midwest) know that it exists and hear it used. I always ...