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

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1
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4answers
192 views

I need a noun in American English that represents the idiom 'to look on the bright side'

We're developing an application where we have categories users may progress towards, and one of them is 'to look on the bright side; to live without worry, etc.'. However, categories are titled with a ...
3
votes
4answers
1k views

“A half a cup of [something]”

Watching a cooking show a few days ago, the lady that presented it used the expression a half a cup or a half a teaspoon several times during the programme. I've heard half a [something] used before ...
16
votes
5answers
14k views

How should I address a professor in the US?

I am always puzzled about how students address a professor in America. Perhaps "Professor + Last name" is the most formal way to do. Here are my questions: What if the last name of a professor is ...
6
votes
4answers
19k views

Synonymity of “is that so” and “really”

Do these have the same meaning? Oh is that so? Oh really?
5
votes
3answers
13k views

Which is correct, “on-line” or “online”?

I am still seeing uses of on-line, though I think it is incorrect. For example: A web browser enables a user to go on-line/online. Can you tell me which is the more appropriate to use, on-line ...
4
votes
1answer
31k views

Proper use of the phrase “of all time”

I have a client who insists on using the following sentence in his web site: Lance Armstrong is the most successful American bike racer of all times. I think that "of all times" should be "of ...
1
vote
3answers
12k views

Pronunciation of “i” in the words like “direct”, “organization”, etc

I'm a nonnative speaker of English and I've always been unsure about the pronunciation of "i" inside words like direct, organization, etc. I was thinking that it's a matter of choice between American ...
7
votes
6answers
368 views

Is there a word or term for an attempt to simplify but which complicates instead?

Specifically something which seems simpler than an alternative at first glance but is actually complex on a closer examination. There are some things that have been coming up at work that fit this ...
1
vote
2answers
2k views

Use of the word “have”

In a menu title/button, does "have" need to be used? Is "1" okay or should "2" be used? 1) People who contacted you in the last 24 hours 2) People who have contacted you in the last 24 hours This ...
3
votes
1answer
16k views

Why “a quarter of nine” to represent 8:45? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What does 'ten of six' mean in regard to time? As a non-native speaker, I consider a quarter past nine (9:15) and a quarter to nine (8:45) easy to understand. ...
0
votes
1answer
4k views

Why is “do” sometimes put before a verb? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Use of “do” in affirmative statements Why do people sometimes use the words "do" or "does" in affirmative sentences? For example: A: We know a guy! ...
1
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3answers
1k views

“Building site” vs. “construction site”

Is building site the British English equivalent of construction site in American English, and is it used in American English?
6
votes
7answers
4k views

What is “lemonade” in American English?

Lemonade is a fizzy drink, strongly carbonated. It comes in two varieties, white (which is actually colourless) and red. I have never known anyone to make it at home. Various things I've picked up in ...
1
vote
2answers
175 views

What's the word that sounds like “procedures” in this recording? [closed]

Here is what I hear in this audio: When Roman empire crumbled, Europe was procedured by famine, plague,prosecutions. and steed of war so persistent, it only rarely interrupted by peace [...]. ...
3
votes
3answers
1k views

Odd, affected pronunciation of “realtor”

A while back, I noticed that the voice-over on a commercial repeatedly used an odd pronunciation of the word realtor - "real-TORE", with a long O as opposed to "real-tur", like "doc-tur" or ...
9
votes
3answers
645 views

Why are certain categories of words more likely to vary between British and American English?

There are certain groups of words that are much more likely to vary between British and American dialects of English. terms relating to cars, trains and roads (boot/trunk, bonnet/hood, ...
-5
votes
6answers
331 views

Is it wrong to say something is X if it cannot not be X? [closed]

I'm having a discussion with someone who thinks that it's a non-sequitur to describe something as X if it's not possible for it to not be X. Here's an example: It's wrong to say a chair is ...
2
votes
1answer
246 views

“Is Ken home?” or “Is Ken at home?”

When you ask someone if your buddy Ken is at home or not, what is the correct question, "Is Ken home?" or "Is Ken at home?"? I'm pretty sure both of those are correct, since I've seen a lot of times ...
8
votes
3answers
12k views

“Aeroplane” or “Airplane” - Which are people more familiar with? [closed]

I'm considering creating an application which has the word "Aeroplane" in the title. However, I have noticed in Google the following trend: Aeroplane: 16,700,000 results Airplane: 119,000,000 ...
4
votes
4answers
8k views

Can I “shout someone out”, or only “give a shout out to” someone (to recognize them)?

I was listening to NPR's The Politics Hour when I noticed the unusual construction They refurbished eight of our libraries, eight brand-new libraries in D.C. Public Schools, and I want to shout ...
5
votes
4answers
63k views

Does the phrase “who's in?” or “I'm in!” exist in (informal) English?

I really think I've heard it in some American sitcom/sitcoms, meaning something like participating in. "I want to play football. Who's in?" — "Great idea, I'm in!" Does it really exist, or am I wrong? ...
5
votes
5answers
11k views

Is “take care” always a friendly utterance or can it sometimes be considered threatening?

A little while ago someone wrote to me, in a not-too-friendly internet exchange, "take care, man". I interpreted that as a threat, but now I realize that Americans often use this expression "take ...
0
votes
1answer
645 views

Is it less than $100 or under $100? Is it more than $100 or is it over $100?

I am building a web site and need to clarify something for a non-U.S. customer. It's whether to use "less than/more than" or "under/over". items less than $100.00 items from $100.00 to $500.00 ...
2
votes
3answers
2k views

Usage of 'z' in the word serialized in English?

Is it correct to use 'z' or 's' in the word "seriali z ed" when writing correct English? (I.e. not a variant of English like "American") Or should it be spelled like "seriali s ed" ?
4
votes
2answers
27k views

“Interfere in” vs. “interfere with”

I was taught that when interfere is followed by in, it means to get involved in something that doesn't concern you; when followed by with, it means to prevent something from being done. And this is ...
77
votes
28answers
13k 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
519 views

What does “We don’t do anything that’s not completely up and up” mean?

I found an amusing story titled “Lobster salad, but a key ingredient was missing” in today’s (August 11)New York Times NY/Region section. The article reports that Zabar’s, the famous grocery in ...
15
votes
4answers
8k views

Pronunciation of “er” in “farmer” vs. “earth”

I'm confused about the difference in pronouncing "er" in words such as "farmer" and "earth". I hear them the same, but they have different phonetic symbols. Is there any difference in pronouncing "er" ...
3
votes
2answers
757 views

Meaning of “mints”

Context (New York Times), MINTS An organic fudge brownie awaits you in the room, along with a personalized welcome letter... First, I'm not sure if I'm on the right track or not (I'm wondering ...
13
votes
6answers
20k views

History of “have a good one”

I used to work at a grocery store. When bidding farewell to customers, my coworkers would often use phrases such as "Have a nice day," "Enjoy your day," and the like. One particular phrase that ...
4
votes
2answers
3k views

“cold cash” vs. “hard cash”

Context (New York Times): Besides piling into Treasuries, institutional investors are also seeking out the safety of cold, hard cash, pouring billions into commercial bank accounts backed up ...
-11
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2answers
2k views

What is the full form of the sentence “You never rolled?” [closed]

I heard this sentence in a movie dialogue: You never rolled? Is the complete form of the given sentence: Have you never rolled?
2
votes
1answer
2k views

Voice mail text: “Please leave a message after the…”

I am wondering: Is "Please leave a message after the signal" American English? You will most often hear "...after the tone" in the UK, I guess.
6
votes
4answers
2k views

How do you pronounce “is there” in fast speech?

I'm not a native speaker of English, and I was recently puzzled with the question, "How can Americans put their tongue in z (is) position and then change to th (there) in such short time?" May you ...
8
votes
1answer
5k views

“Autumn” vs. “fall” — geographical distribution of usage?

I know that generally autumn is the British term and fall is the American one, but what is the geographical distribution of the two terms outside these countries? I'm fairly sure that no British ...
2
votes
1answer
135 views

“I drive an car” vs “I drive a car” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Use of “a” versus “an” I'm confused, when do I use "an" and when "a" ? I see some people are correcting my questions and changing a with an. I ...
7
votes
3answers
2k views

Should a period be placed within quotation marks if it would conflict with a punctuated item that should be used or typed verbatim?

Gee whiz! Just when I thought I had the "period within quotation marks" rules set firmly in my personal punctuational code, I hit upon this sentence: All message IDs are pre-pended with the value ...
1
vote
4answers
315 views

What does this mean: “Avoid oral calcium, dairy products, shark cartilage & exercise during the medication.”

I found this behind a medicine. At first thought, the sentence looks like it suggests avoiding exercise during the medication. However, I remember reading somewhere that in US English, when there is a ...
2
votes
5answers
13k views

What is the opposite of “Could you talk a little louder”?

In a conversation, when I don't hear someone, I usually say: Could you talk a little louder please? However, what should I say if: Someone is being very loud in the other room when talking on ...
-2
votes
4answers
5k views

What's another way of saying “supposed to graduate in 2013”? [closed]

I am filling out a job application and I know there's an official word for it, but I just can't think of it. It can normally be found on transcripts.
9
votes
8answers
3k views

Why “horseback riding” and not simply “horse riding”?

As a German horse riding seems to be to the point. Why is it horseback riding in English? Isn't it obvious that you ride on the back of the horse? Is there a difference between British and American ...
2
votes
2answers
4k views

“Badger someone” [closed]

I've heard the expression "to badger someone" in British English usage, and not being able to find out about its origins, I wonder if it is also commonly used elsewhere, for example, in American ...
5
votes
1answer
4k views

What does the phrase 'make the girls tick' mean?

I read the following phrase in a dating book. find out who they are and what made them tick? What does the phrase make the girls tick mean?
27
votes
3answers
2k views

Do Americans understand Donald Duck?

I had always assumed that although I understood only about half of what Donald Duck says in his cartoons, Americans understood everything despite his comical pronunciation. However friends have just ...
6
votes
3answers
14k views

How can I answer the question “What is the word, bird?” [closed]

I'm often asked a question "What is the word, bird?" by a manager of mine. I'm not sure what does it mean but I think it means "What's your last status update?" and I answer like I do have to do 1, 2, ...
4
votes
4answers
7k views

“Late to the party” vs. “late for the party”

I've heard both versions, usually in similar contexts. Which one is correct or more correct — or more prevalent — in the USA? He: This deal ends at 7 p.m. She: Sucks, I am late to the party.
3
votes
3answers
2k views

“Transitioning” vs. “transitional” phase

I am wondering if it is correct to say: This is a transitioning phase. Personally, I would say This is a transitional phase. but my friend insists that the above is just as correct as my ...
1
vote
3answers
2k views

“Referenced in” or “referenced from”?

Which of these sentences is more correct? ABC should not be referenced from file X. ABC should not be referenced in file X. ABC should not be referenced by file X.
14
votes
4answers
74k views

“Pricey” vs. “Pricy”

I've recently encountered these two variations of the spellings for the informal word for "expensive." My dictionary and the online dictionary seem to indicate that both of these spellings are ...
15
votes
4answers
92k views

“flat” vs. “apartment”

Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, 8th edition Flat: noun. [ countable ] ( BrE ) a set of rooms for living in, including a kitchen, usually on one floor of a building. Apartment: noun. ( ...