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

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15
votes
2answers
3k views

What's this tense called: “I been done ate”?

Growing up in a Black family in the US, I frequently heard people have conversations like this: Mom: Have you eaten yet? Kid: Yeah, Mom, I been done ate. Wife: Have you fixed the sink yet? ...
5
votes
3answers
2k views

What is the proper usage of “Y'all” in southern American dialects

The construction of the word to me implies that "you" is singular, whereas "y'all" is plural. To a football team: "Y'all are going to play a great game." To a tennis player: "You are going to play a ...
1
vote
1answer
687 views

On being golden

Saying that [someone] is golden means that person is in a desirable situation that will likely lead to some sort of success. I am trying to find out the origin of this phrase. So far, I have found ...
2
votes
5answers
22k views

“ou” versus “o” in spelling words like “color”/“colour”

Often, I have to decide whichever is better in mail, forums, letters. For instance: colour vs color behaviour vs behavior humour vs humor rumour vs rumor honour vs honor armour vs armor The ...
-2
votes
2answers
2k views

Can you give me five good words beginning with the letter D? [closed]

Can you give me five words which start with the letter D? These five words should reflect professional attitudes or qualities for success in business. For example, determination, discretion, and ...
3
votes
1answer
335 views

How popular is 'brefass' in modern American vocabulary?

This is an abbreviation of 'breakfast' that I have found myself paying extra attention to recently. In fact I have even heard my mother use it on a regular basis. Is this common in modern spoken ...
1
vote
3answers
379 views

Can you get files off-line?

Often times I hear people say "I got it offline" to mean they downloaded it from the internet, is this an accepted term or should it be "I got it online"?
11
votes
5answers
9k views

How to use “you know”

For a non-native speaker like me, I am always wondering how to use you know correctly, as in the following sentence: Alright, well, for example, like on Saturdays, y’know, what I liked to do ...
22
votes
9answers
33k views

Why is 'c*nt' so much more derogatory in the US than the UK?

What accounts for the strong disapproval of anyone using the word 'cunt' in the US, when the sentiment doesn't exist to the same extent in the UK? To be clear, it's still a strong word to use in the ...
7
votes
8answers
25k views

Which is correct: “soda” or “pop”?

Depending on where you go in the world, some people will refer to a carbonated beverage as "soda" while others choose to use the term "pop." For example, "Can I get you a soda" vs. "Can I get you a ...
0
votes
2answers
595 views

Who is in charge of determining a pronunciation?

Recently I hear many words that sound different than they used to. There are the classic changes in words like pecan and Uranus. But the word that bugs me most now is caramel. Is there some group in ...
12
votes
6answers
2k views

“Toward” or “towards” – what would a native speaker use?

In this question we learn that toward and towards are interchangeable, but that the former is somewhat more typical of U.S. English and the latter of British English, although there is some indication ...
13
votes
3answers
38k views

What's the difference between 'subway', 'metro' and 'tube'?

When I watched the "American Album" program, Susan and Henry talked about New York, and she used the word 'subway'. When I listened to BBC's '6 minutes English', I heard 'tube' used in the ...
19
votes
4answers
45k views

What are the important differences between Canadian and American (USA) English?

English is not my first language; the little English I know is mostly from the USA. I know some of the differences between British English (or just English?) and American English, and the same with ...
6
votes
3answers
2k views

How do American dialects differ?

I grew up in a very homogenous suburb, and was quite shocked when I moved to Philadelphia for college and started hearing how many different dialects exist even within one city. My untrained ear could ...
8
votes
5answers
28k views

Which is the correct way to refer to the letter “Z” — “Zee” or “Zed”?

So I am giving a presentation to an American audience tomorrow, and I have rather cluelessly labeled some components on a Powerpoint slide using the alphabet. When I talk about "component Z", I want ...
7
votes
5answers
4k views

Cultural connotation of American English — some examples?

I am from India and we speak English there as well, albeit not as culturally refined as I see in the US. In India, and perhaps in the UK, English is spoken in a straight and 'as it is' manner. For ...
7
votes
10answers
64k views

Is there a rule in British English about how to pronounce “either”?

There are two common pronunciations of "either": British /ˈaɪðər/ and American /ˈiːðər/. If Americans are more or less consistent in this regard, then the Brits seem to be freely using both. In fact, ...
9
votes
2answers
16k views

Why “ladybird”?

In case you don't know, in British English, the little red-with-black-spots insect is not called a "ladybug", as in North America, but a "ladybird". This seems rather a poor act of classification, ...
7
votes
4answers
11k views

About the usage of term 'come again'

Last week I was attending a communications training program. The trainer said that the term 'come again' has sexual meaning in American English. I was surprised as I have seen many Americans using ...
24
votes
2answers
9k views

When do you use “learnt” and when “learned”?

Is learnt UK English and learned US? Is it that simple? I’m used to using learnt, but my US spellchecker says it is wrong.
15
votes
2answers
5k views

“Oestrogen” and “oesophagus” — why are they spelled differently in British English?

Within Biology, there are some biological terms that differ in spelling between the British English and American English dictionaries. For example, oestrogen and oesophagus, as well as the word ...
11
votes
6answers
22k views

What is the difference between “to oblige” and “to obligate”?

What's the difference between oblige and obligate? Speculating, is the latter an Americanism of the British former? Or is there any distinction about what/who has caused someone to be oblig(at)ed to ...
3
votes
1answer
83 views

The X in the hat

English is not my native language so I have gone through the pain of learning the difference between in, on, and at. However, it is common in the U.S. to refer to someone wearing a hat as X in the ...
13
votes
4answers
1k views

Which English language variety is best to use for global e-commerce?

Which variety of English — like American English, British English, and so one — is better to choose when translating to Englis, or building it from scratch, for an e-commerce site which intends to ...
2
votes
2answers
3k views

Why the shortening of “fitted” to “fit”?

Which is more correct, "it fit really well" or "it fitted really well"? The short form is something I encountered when moving to the US, I never heard it in the UK.
23
votes
5answers
68k views

What is the origin of the phrase “I'll take a raincheck”?

What is the origin of the phrase I'll take a raincheck?
20
votes
7answers
13k 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
14k views

Independance or Independence?

What other words are like "independence" in British English where you replace the 'a' with an 'e'?
5
votes
3answers
8k views

“At the beginning of the century” or “in the beginning of the century”?

At the beginning of the century. In the beginning of the century. How to clearly distinguish when to use at, or in?
3
votes
4answers
31k views

Difference between “get” and “take”

What is the difference between "get" and "take"? Both are used to describe receiving something. By intuition I mostly guess which one to use, but would like to know some rule which will stick in my ...
6
votes
3answers
43k views

Usage of “shall we?”

What does it mean and where would I use it?
20
votes
13answers
19k 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 ...
16
votes
4answers
7k views

When will “Present Perfect vs. Past Tense” cases be affected by culture?

Regarding actions taken in the past, besides the differences those two tenses have semantically, my teacher shared that it could be a British vs American English case. When talking about past ...
4
votes
3answers
7k views

When did “y’all” become improper?

It is my understanding that the contraction y’all was considered correct American English in times past. At what point was this word removed from valid American English?
16
votes
5answers
3k views

“Bring” vs. “take” in American English

English (other than American English) has a clear differentiation between the two words. Both are about translocating something. In "bring" the something of somebody is moved to where the speaker is ...
13
votes
3answers
6k views

Starting an independent statement with “I mean, …”

A friend was noting that his daughter would occasionally start sentences with the phrase "I mean, " simply for emphasis, not for clarification: Friend: How was the Miley Cyrus concert? ...
8
votes
4answers
5k views

Use of the word “praxis”?

According to dictionary.reference.com the word praxis means: practice, as distinguished from theory; application or use, as of knowledge or skills. I recently saw another stackexchange post now ...
23
votes
7answers
3k views

Does “gay” still include the meaning “merry”?

Dictionary.com lists eight meanings of gay, with “merry, lively” as the first entry. Microsoft banned an Xbox user for listing Fort Gay (a real place) as his hometown: Xbox Live considered the ...
7
votes
4answers
4k views

Pronunciation of names that end in “h”

In Britain (or perhaps just Scotland) the names "Sara" and "Sarah" are pronounced different. Sara: Sah-rah ("a" as in "bat") Sarah: Se-rah ("a" as in "air") In the US and Canada, Sarah ...
7
votes
1answer
295 views

Why is “no” used in a phrase like “this is no big deal” instead of “not”?

The following is the full sentence: One could argue, convincingly, that this is no big deal and that I'm just a whiner.
50
votes
3answers
10k views

Why do some words have two past tense forms (e.g. “dreamed” vs. “dreamt”)?

While perusing ShreevatsaR's answer to this question, it occurred to me that my own verbal usage is out of step with what I see in current American literature. When speaking in the past tense, I ...
2
votes
3answers
64 views

What are the meanings of ' and beyond' in 'beyond' in 'Building forms and beyond'?

Here is the context: This chapter covers Generating HTML with UI component tags Building forms and beyond Snazzing it up with templates and themes Surveying the components
0
votes
0answers
364 views

How Would One Use A Semicolon (;)? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How does one correctly use a semicolon? I'm wondering about the difference between just ending the sentence and starting a new one based on the same subject and using a ...
3
votes
2answers
2k views

Can “have a feeling that” be used to state a fact?

I have a feeling that you are angry with me. I have a feeling that George Washington was commander in chief of the Continental Army. Can I have a feeling that be used to introduce a fact? If it ...
8
votes
4answers
1k views

Etymology of “Spaghetti and gravy”

In Nero Wolfe "Before I die", the gangster's sidekick asks for spaghetti and gravy. After Wolfe's chef Fritz prepares him spaghetti with the type of gravy used for roast beef, it turns out that the ...
2
votes
2answers
274 views

How unusual are Nancy Gribble and Nero Wolfe?

Nancy Gribble and Nero Wolfe (at least the TV version played by Maury Chaykin) both use British pronunciations like "tomahto" and "shedule" rather than "tomayto" and "skedule", and yet both seem to be ...
9
votes
1answer
2k views

What is the meaning of 'That about covers it'?

I am reading a book titled Struts 2 in action, and there is this sentence: That about covers it for aspects of OGNL that are commonly used in Struts 2. What I am confused by it is the structure ...
12
votes
3answers
5k views

Why is “a couple of <things>” often shortened to “a couple <things>”?

I would write a couple of . I often read/hear a couple . I assumed this was an American English thing (I'm British), and just a convenient shortening of the phrase for speaking. It's easier to say a ...
15
votes
3answers
951 views

Billion and other large numbers

Traditionally a billion in American English means 109 (1,000,000,000, a thousand million) while in British English it means 1012 (a million million) with milliard meaning 109. Is this still the case ...