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

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14
votes
2answers
19k views

Why is the phrase “should have went” so widely used?

Rarely do we hear "should have gone" in common speech. Some background: My father immigrated to the US in the late 60s. He learned English first overseas, British English. Then he studied extensively ...
11
votes
5answers
1k views

Intention of rising pitches

I have been wondering about the rising pitch used in almost every sentence, by especially young Americans. What is the purpose/intention of rising pitch except in questions? Is it friendly and ...
2
votes
2answers
741 views

American pronunciation of “professor” and “law”

In this video, around 0:45, when Amy Chua says "I am a professor at Yale law school". I was wondering why her mouth pouted twice, once at the end of "professor" and the other between "law" and ...
5
votes
6answers
3k views

“tag question” vs. “question tag”

I've just read this page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tag_question So regarding this passage: The term "question tag" is generally preferred by British grammarians, while their American ...
4
votes
3answers
65k views

“When would be the best time” vs. “what would be the best time”

Is it more appropriate to say When would be the best time and date for the meeting? or What would be the best time and date for the meeting? I would assume the former and not the latter, ...
2
votes
2answers
291 views

Is it safe to use the British standard for numbering in a novel with a worldwide audience? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Billion and other large numbers Where I am from (Barbados) I grew up knowing a Billion to = 1000 000 000 000, not 1000 000 000, and it was some years before I learned to ...
7
votes
2answers
571 views

How to convey to someone that food is losing heat?

The story is that I want someone to come earlier to the dining table as food is hot now but in ten minutes it would not be. How in American English can I say to someone to come early, as food on the ...
3
votes
2answers
589 views

“Destination language” or “target language”?

For example, I translate a word from English to German. I call "English" "source language". Should I use "destination language" or "target language" for "German"?
6
votes
8answers
14k views

Why is it called an “Indian file”?

I recently came across a US phrase, Indian file. This is utterly unheard of in the UK, and probably outside North America; at least I’ve certainly never heard of it. The phrase would be expressed in ...
9
votes
4answers
1k views

Can “shop” (related to selling or stores) be used as a transitive verb?

How is shop used as a transitive verb? The only transitive meanings I can find are reporting someone to police or Photoshopping an image. I found one discussion about transitive 'shop', centered on ...
3
votes
4answers
6k views

Should anti- and counterclockwise be hyphenated?

I've got a document in which I'm defining counterclockwise and mentioning that it is sometimes also called anti-clockwise. The document is in American English, and generally in line with the Chicago ...
13
votes
7answers
23k views

Difference between “canteen” and “cafeteria”

Are there any differences between canteen and cafeteria? In India, usually an eating place attached to an office, factory or school is called a canteen. Of course, in some new offices it is called ...
7
votes
2answers
2k views

Why is “ouster” the act of ousting and not one who ousts?

The question should be clear enough from the title. Also: What are we supposed to call one who ousts? [If this warrants another question, I will edit this out and open another question.]
4
votes
1answer
17k views

Please explain the: upwards vs upward difference [duplicate]

Possible Duplicates: “Backward” versus “backwards” — is there any difference? Afterward versus afterwards — which, and/or when? I have seen both used ...
3
votes
9answers
1k views

What word describes interpreting evidence in such a way as to reach a desired conclusion?

Does anyone know what it's called when you interpret evidence to reach the conclusion you want?
12
votes
4answers
966 views

What are the possible meanings of positive “any more”?

Ordinary any more [usually with negative or in questions] to any further extent; any longer: she refused to listen any more Positive any more is the use of the adverb any more in an ...
89
votes
1answer
343k views

What's the difference between “requester” and “requestor”?

Both are in dictionaries. I've heard people insist "requester" is correct for a person who requests something, and that "requestor" is wrong there, leaving me to wonder how it is used. Requestor ...
4
votes
3answers
3k views

Pronunciation of double consonants

How do you pronounce double consonants in American English? For example: Daddy - Do you say "Da-di", "Dad-di" or "Dad-i"? Mommy - Do you say "Ma-mi", "Mam-mi" or "Mam-i"? Swimming - "swi-ming", ...
4
votes
2answers
5k views

Linking sounds?

When one word ends in a consonant sound and the next begins with a vowel sound, can you tell me how you say these words in American English? can I..? (Can nai or Ca nai?) take it (teɪ kit or teɪk ...
5
votes
4answers
2k views

What does “interstitial effect” mean?

Googled, but still do not understand what "interstitial effect" means. Can someone please explain?
7
votes
4answers
13k views

What is the history and geographic area of the word “finna?”

In St. Louis, I learned of the word, "finna." I know it is slang/contraction for "fixing to." By asking dozens of people, I've learned that it is used by people of many different races and cultural ...
3
votes
2answers
955 views

Can and can't pronunciation [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How to distinguish can & can't from pronunciation? How do native American English speakers pronounce "can" and "can't" so that these two very similarly sounding ...
14
votes
6answers
5k views

When and how did “momentarily” come to mean “in a moment”, rather than “for a moment”?

"Momentarily" used to mean "for a moment" only, and not "in a moment". Thus, newscasters could be divided into two clear groups: those who would say "we'll be back momentarily," and those who would ...
7
votes
5answers
80k views

“Vendor” vs. “vender” in Standard American English

Which is preferred? I've always thought that vendor was the only spelling. The question was brought up by a typo, which the Word spellchecker did not correct.
10
votes
3answers
4k views

'Ours' meaning 'our home' - where is it used outside the UK, if anywhere?

In expressions like: Let's go back to ours and have some food. There's a party at ours on Friday. There's a bottle of brandy at yours, isn't there? 'ours' and 'yours' are synonyms for ...
-1
votes
2answers
687 views

Is 'r' in Br/Amr pronunciation of Arjmand (Persian word) silent?

Is 'r' in Br/Amr pronunciation of 'Arjmand' (Persian word) silent? (In other words, how is this word pronounced in Br/Amr English?)
10
votes
6answers
5k views

Is there an American English dialect that sounds as “distingushed” as British English?

Obviously there are a lot of subjective words in the question. There are dialects of British English that don't sound distinguished at all (Cockney). Also, what sounds distinguished is somewhat ...
6
votes
3answers
1k views

Spelling protocol (American/British/Canadian) for an International conference

If I'm a Canadian who'll be presenting in an international conference, should I use my country's spelling, which is the Canadian/British spelling like "grey" or the more used American spelling like ...
16
votes
2answers
3k views

Preventative vs. preventive

In this answer about the non-word disabilitated, the word preventative is compared (unfavourably, if my reading of the implication is correct) to preventive. However, I have always used preventative, ...
13
votes
2answers
6k views

Enquire and inquire

In British English I think these two words have different shades of meaning, but I couldn't articulate them. In American English I see inquire used where I would use "enquire". Are there shades of ...
10
votes
1answer
11k views

Is Australian English closer to US English or British English?

It would seem obvious to me that Australian English is closer to British English due to the historical events that led to English people living here. But it seems when differences occur that US ...
15
votes
10answers
12k views

How many of the “Top 10 favorite British words” are understood by Americans?

Merriam-Webster Dictionary online shows “Top 10 Favorite British Words”. I’m interested in knowing how many of the listed words are understood or accepted by Americans as English, whichever British ...
3
votes
1answer
356 views

Is this letter censuring or just being sarcastic?

This is a letter by physicist Richard Feynman to his university's student newspaper. I am a non-native english speaker and I have trouble understanding in what spirit this letter was written them, is ...
6
votes
4answers
5k views

“Cleats” vs. “soccer shoes”

I used to say cleats but found it uncommon for some people, though I had no trouble with soccer shoes. I have always lived in a Spanish-speaking country (Nicaragua) so I find it hard to know why that ...
1
vote
0answers
183 views

Is “Can not” a valid usage in English, or I can not use that and must use “cannot”/“Can't”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicates: Why is “cannot” spelled as one word? Is “can not” unambiguous? Is "Can not" a valid usage in English (American English if it differs), or I can not use ...
2
votes
2answers
640 views

“Time needed to complete a work” — is this correct?

Is the usage of "a work" correct here? My supervisor, who is not an English teacher, advised me to use "a task" instead. Usually, though, I would not mind either way. Does somebody have another ...
12
votes
7answers
9k views

Is it appropriate to call a British person a “Brit”?

Specifically, is it appropriate for a non-British person to call a British person a "Brit"? Whenever I see it from an American source it always feels too familiar or too informal, or both. But I can't ...
14
votes
8answers
31k views

Meaning of “go figure” and its origin?

Sometimes, people use a colloquial phrase of "it figures" or "go figure", which is kind of an acknowledgement of the correctness of a fact, or something like that. It's also sometimes abbreviated even ...
4
votes
4answers
359 views

What's a nice way to phrase this?

I want to get across the idea that I can't work with this person because I don't agree with the amount of pay he has written in the contract (or just contract terms in general). I just think writing ...
13
votes
4answers
3k views

What does “it takes a tough man to make a tender chicken” mean?

I read it here. The New Jersey guy said that the Unix solution was right because the design philosophy of Unix was simplicity and that the right thing was too complex. Besides, programmers could ...
7
votes
2answers
6k views

How to write the date of an event that lasts a few days

What is the correct way to write, in American English, that something will happen over a date range? The event will take place through July 1-10, 2011? The event will take place from July 1 to July ...
0
votes
4answers
2k views

Is it acceptable to use 'z' instead of 's' for plural form? [closed]

I am trying to find an appropriate name for my website but all domains are squattered. So now I think that I can call my site, say, not 'cats.com' by 'catz.com'. Isn't it too informal and 'leet' (or ...
14
votes
3answers
34k views

How do you pronounce “melee”? [closed]

I've heard meelee, meyley (maylay), and mehlay. Is there any "correct" way to pronounce it in the U.S.?
10
votes
2answers
28k views

When someone asks, “How are you?”

When someone asks, "How are you?" are you supposed to answer, "Good," or "Fine," and ask back?
2
votes
1answer
305 views

Is there anything wrong with this sentence? [closed]

I'm focused on the punctuation. If anybody can help point out if there are any errors, I'd appreciate it. The two characters in the band are James (left—who I worked with previously for his ...
9
votes
9answers
3k views

Are there idioms specific to one English dialect?

Let's get into a little conversation about the differences between American English, British English and regional dialects. Some words are specific to certain dialects (lass is Scottish, the lads is ...
1
vote
2answers
2k views

English phrases created or popularized through Seinfeld

Seinfeld has been very influential in transforming how Americans (and possibly other English speakers) speak, see: What does "yadda yadda" mean? What sayings or phrases in common parlance ...
4
votes
7answers
4k views

Describing the sound of liquid hitting the floor

I'm searching for a word describing the sound of liquid hitting the floor, nothing like water — more like milkshake/vomit. I know this sounds strange, but I was thinking of plunge. Only to ...
6
votes
5answers
549 views

Does quoting in British or American English depend on the quoted or the audience?

If you are quoting/documenting the conversation between two people — one is British and one American — do you use a consistent approach directed towards your intended audience or switch to ...
6
votes
3answers
4k views

Where does “hot damn!” come from?

There is the exclamation "hot damn", which one might use, in certain contexts, similar to " All right!", or "Excellent!" (American English, as far as I know.) Google ngrams says it doesn't see it ...