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

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15
votes
3answers
44k 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
49k 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 ...
9
votes
5answers
29k 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
70k 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
18k 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
13k 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
10k 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
6k 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 ...
12
votes
6answers
24k 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
84 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 ...
14
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
77k 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?
22
votes
7answers
14k 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 ...
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
34k 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
49k views

Usage of “shall we?”

What does it mean and where would I use it?
21
votes
13answers
22k 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
8k 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
8k 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?
17
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
299 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.
51
votes
3answers
11k 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
65 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
277 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 ...
13
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
968 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
917 views

What does the phrase “on to” mean?

The following sentence is the context. Accordingly, in the next few chapters, which deal specifically with the tags, we’ll spend a lot more time on the OGNL expression language. On to chapter 6! ...
35
votes
15answers
9k views

Words with opposite meanings in different regions

I can't recall it, but there is a word in American English which now means the opposite of itself in British English. What words are there that have opposite (not just different) meanings in different ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

What does the phrase “Go Tiger!” mean?

I am learning the Java struts 2 by reading a book titled "struts 2 in action" and I encountered the phrase "Go Tiger!". I can't figure out what it means; can anybody give me the answer? If you ...
7
votes
5answers
12k views

What is a West Coast (U.S.) accent?

I've seen references to the American Midwest as being the home of the least accented form of American English. I always think of the Northern Midwest as having an accent that I associate with ...
14
votes
5answers
24k views

Is there a 1950's American accent?

Listening to old recordings, there is a distinct accent that radio and television announcers used that is different from a modern-day "Standard American" or neutral accent. It seems that over the ...
1
vote
4answers
1k views

Is it correct to speak of New York dialect?

Is it correct to speak of New York dialect, or should I use a different term when referring to the particular pronunciation used in New York?
7
votes
2answers
2k views

Is there a difference between the pronunciation of a teenager, and the pronunciation of an adult?

In my travels in the USA (on Long Island), I noted that the pronunciation used by a teenager sounds different from the pronunciation used by an adult. Does such difference exist, or is it just my ...
12
votes
3answers
6k views

Where is standard American English derived from?

I have a book that explains how to speak in standard American English (American Accent Training — Barron's). What does the term standard American English refer to? Is there a region in the United ...
7
votes
5answers
11k 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" ...
18
votes
5answers
28k views

“right” vs “correct”

Except when we use right to denote direction, what is the difference between these two terms? Also, which one is the preferred construction between these two Am I right? or Am I correct?
2
votes
3answers
558 views

Redundancy in American Usage

Why do Americans use so much redundancy? Is it because of their schooling or their every day influence? Or is it something totally different? Examples: It was an even tie. (They reached the finish ...
6
votes
2answers
6k 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?
20
votes
5answers
21k views

What is the pronunciation of “the”?

I read that the definite article is pronounced differently depending on the word that follows it. Which is the exact pronunciation of the?