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

learn more… | top users | synonyms

10
votes
4answers
792 views

“I park my car in the yard”

What is the origin of the different pronunciation of words like park, yard, cartoon, margarine in American and British English? In other words, why doesn’t British English generally pronounce the r ...
4
votes
5answers
637 views

What is the word for a university student who has a job at university?

I have to produce a copy of my CV in English and I don't know how to properly describe the position. When I was a Master student, I was employed by a professor at our department, for whom I did some ...
11
votes
3answers
20k views

Origin of the meaning of “à la mode”

In American English, à la mode means: in fashion, up to date. with ice cream. (of beef) braised in wine, typically with vegetables. While the first meaning matches the French meaning, the other ...
11
votes
5answers
7k views

Do Americans use the world 'turtle' as a generic word to mean 'tortoise'?

Obviously there are two different animals — a tortoise and a turtle. But I have been told by a colleague that in the US the word turtle is used to describe both. I find this odd as for example the ...
31
votes
8answers
123k views

Data pronunciation: “dayta” or “dahta”?

I hear "dayta" more often, but what's the correct pronunciation?
36
votes
7answers
70k views

Can 'revert' be used as a synonym of 'reply'?

I am a native speaker of American English, and I have only ever heard this usage of the word revert from one person. This person is not a native English speaker (he is from India), so he may just be ...
5
votes
6answers
2k views

Is a whole cake still a “piece”

If someone eats an entire cake, is it correct to say that he ate just a piece of cake? Can a whole cake still be considered a piece of cake if consumed in one sitting?
14
votes
22answers
1k views

Is there a good substitute for the word “scarper” in American English?

I used quick, let's scarper before the boss comes back to inject some levity into a recent meeting, but got only blank stares for my trouble. When asked to explain scarper to my American chums, all I ...
16
votes
3answers
33k views

Why is “lucked out” such a good thing to be?

This still strikes me as odd, even after 12 years in the US. Being out of luck is a bad thing, but lucked out is a good thing, e.g. we 'lucked out' and were able to get two extra tickets for the show....
9
votes
2answers
577 views

avoid the slash?

Should the slash be avoided? For example every week/day in my head is translated to every week or day. I think I started using slashes because I saw them used in forums and in articles. Is using ...
6
votes
8answers
561 views

“flavorx” v.s. “flavors”

I wrote something about the food. And I use flavors for plural flavor, however my foreign English teacher corrected it as flavorx. And he considers that I also should read 'flavors'. I googled the ...
41
votes
7answers
2k views

Which variant of English should I use when my target audience is the world?

I know that all variants of English (American English, British English, etc.) can be generally understood by everybody who knows any of the English variants. However, there are some regionalisms that ...
2
votes
3answers
4k views

What does “throw back” mean?

In this sentence: I've throw back a lot of orange juice. What does to “throw back (orange juice)” mean?
11
votes
6answers
2k views

Do Americans say “don't” as often as the British?

this is really a question for Americans. When watching US TV or films, it's often my impression that, while using all the other contractions, Americans don't seem so keen on 'don't', but use 'do not' ...
16
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? Husband:...
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
724 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 ...
3
votes
5answers
25k 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 ...
-3
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
344 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
385 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
10k 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 ...
23
votes
9answers
39k 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
9answers
28k views

In which parts of the USA do the say “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
624 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 ...
15
votes
3answers
45k 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
50k 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
30k 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
72k 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 ...
25
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
25k 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 hat....
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
79k 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?
23
votes
7answers
15k 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
17k views

Independance or Independence?

What other words are like "independence" in British English where you replace the 'a' with an 'e'?
5
votes
3answers
9k 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
35k 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
51k views

Usage of “shall we?”

What does it mean and where would I use it?
21
votes
13answers
23k 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
9k 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 action,...
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 ...