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

learn more… | top users | synonyms

1
vote
1answer
39 views

“I would not prefer to” or “I would prefer not to”?

(1) Is there any difference/nuance (in mood, meaning, or something else) between "I would not prefer to" or "I would prefer not to"? (2) Which is the more/most common in usage?
31
votes
8answers
123k views
7
votes
2answers
3k views

Was “tickle (someone's) fancy” originally a double entendre?

Recently, I asked users to provide modern-day equivalents of idioms and expressions that contained the words fancy and tickle. The question is titled Whatever tickles their fancy in the US? I was ...
1
vote
1answer
47 views

How important is the word “Please” when asking for something? [on hold]

How important is this word 'please' when asking someone you don't know for something? If you have already said "excuse me" is it still necessary? Is it more important than 'Thank you'? I have heard ...
2
votes
2answers
68 views

Is “reoccurring” a word and is there any semantic difference with “recurring”?

The internet seems divided on this one. Although, e.g., the Merriam-Webster dictionary does not list the word "reoccurring", dictionary.com does list it as a variant of "occur", and the Oxford ...
3
votes
2answers
7k views

“Balconies”, “porches”, “decks”, “terraces”, “verandas”, “lanais”, “galleries”, and “piazzas” in GAE and dialectal AE

In AE, a porch is apparently just about the same structure as a veranda, i.e. an open or enclosed gallery or room attached to the outside of a building. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/porch ...
1
vote
1answer
66 views

Meaning of “Students in all majors” versus “Students of all majors”

I would like to know the difference between these sentences: I want to send an email to students of all majors I want to send an email to students in all majors How did of/in change the meaning of ...
4
votes
1answer
20 views

Please help me to understand the following definition of “Precautionary Principle”

for "precautionary princple", it gives the following definition. where there are threats or serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific cerntainty shall not be used as a reason for ...
0
votes
1answer
41 views

Different-colored or different colored? UK vs US English

Can I write "differently colored" instead? What expression most British or Americans would rather use? "socks, different in color" "socks of different colors" "a different color of each sock"
0
votes
2answers
411 views

What is the origin of “Act your age, not your shoe size”?

I have been thinking about this saying a lot in the past week (and yes I saw Prince in concert 30 years ago, and the Ramones the same night), but I have heard it since I was a child. I guess I find it ...
1
vote
5answers
146 views

What is a hypernym for the ascending and descending legs of a flight?

If an airline flight is everything that happens in between your starting and ending gates. What is the generic term for each time the plane ascends or descends during an air route? In layman terms, ...
0
votes
2answers
6k views

“Each of these is” vs. “each of these are”

Each of these CDFIs are finding solutions for communities that lack access to traditional financial products and services, and the NEXT Awards will accelerate their success. OR Each of these ...
-3
votes
0answers
24 views
0
votes
0answers
20 views

Difference between twilight zone and gray area

I have found in dictionary that gray area = an ill-defined situation or area of activity not readily conforming to a category or set of rules. Twilight zone = The ambiguous region between two ...
1
vote
1answer
39 views

Spend on or spend?

Which is correct? The average time spent on reading in my country is disappointing. Or The average time spent reading in my country is disappointing Generally for this sentence, do we ...
0
votes
2answers
49 views

What is the exact meaning and context of “mindgame”

As I understand "Mindgame" is something something can play with one another to trick him. But in what I am more interested in, is the meaning of the mental attitude before a sports event for instance. ...
1
vote
4answers
131 views

“crash” vs. “wreck” for [road/air] accident in AmEng

What's the difference between those terms in relation to a road or air accident? crash verb (Aeronautics) to cause (an aircraft) to hit land or water violently resulting in severe damage ...
0
votes
0answers
37 views

“So” to answer a question [duplicate]

I have noticed that many people answer a question starting with "So'. Is this correct usage? For example if I ask you if you play violin, you answer "So" etc.
0
votes
1answer
41 views

Thanks for reaching out vs other “Thanks for contacting us” greetings

Hi I have noticed that more and more American companies respond to enquiries with "Thanks for reaching out to us" To an Australian it seems a little dramatic like it is implying that I have a major ...
0
votes
2answers
69 views

Piece of time/fragment of time/portion of time/bits of time

I have a question regarding the use of certain words to express an idea that implies portions of time. Is a “piece of time” an idiom or does it literally mean a “fragment of time”? I would really ...
0
votes
0answers
19 views

I'm confused. Present perfect or simple past? [duplicate]

What is the difference between "I never lied to you." & "I've never lied to you."? It would be of great help if you provided me with examples, as well. Thank you. :)
1
vote
2answers
360 views

What does this sentence mean in flannery o' connor's short story? [closed]

I was reading 'A good man is hard to find' and I could not understand this: It isn't a soul in this green world of God's that you can trust", She said. "And I don't count nobody out of that, not ...
6
votes
7answers
1k views

“Mic” as an abbreviation for microwave

Last week, I was among a group of friends and commented on the fact that someone had removed a sticker from their microwave. I used the word "mic" to abbreviate microwave, and people thought I was ...
1
vote
1answer
103 views

Are Yiddishisms strongly associated with a certain group or are they general to American English?

There are quite a few words of Yiddish origin in English, for example some more common ones (at least to me): chutzpah dreck shlep shmooze shmuck shtick spiel tuckus However, is there a ...
3
votes
9answers
3k views

Which of “chafing at the bit” or “chomping at the bit” is more accepted/proper?

I've used "chafing at the bit" for quite some time, but have also heard "chomping at the bit" as a way to indicate impatience, etc. Which of these two is the more "proper" or accepted variant?
0
votes
1answer
166 views

Modern use of “I should think” vs. “I would think” in speech

When I listen to old Tom Lehrer recordings he says, I should like to introduce... and it sounds a bit strange. However, yesterday I was building a shed with my wife and I said, much to my ...
8
votes
3answers
574 views

What's the AmE and BrE for “tartaruga”

In Italian the the term "tartaruga" (turtle) is used also to refer to well defined abdominal muscles on the notion that they look like a turtle shell: Is there a slang/colloquial term or short ...
4
votes
3answers
2k views

Does the English language have an official Academy? [duplicate]

For some languages, there are academies that decide topics such as grammar and spelling of things, for example, for the Spanish language, there are 22 academies in 22 different countries, all making ...
2
votes
1answer
42 views

What part(s) of speech are “or else” and “otherwise” and why is “otherwise” more flexible if it's the same part of speech?

In American English, what part(s) of speech are "or else" and "otherwise" and why is "otherwise" more flexible if it's the same part of speech? Take the following examples: 1a. Clean your room, ...
1
vote
1answer
54 views

Idiom for two different consequences from one antecedent

I'm searching for an idiom to use to say briefly that two different outcomes may represent different sides of the same underlying phenomenon. I would use it in the topic of a chapter. These two ...
2
votes
0answers
62 views

Reported Speech: preference for using that after say/tell

A student of mine has stated (based on her experience watching films and TV shows) that, when using Reported Speech, Americans will more often use 'he said that X' or 'he told us that X' whereas ...
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.
3
votes
3answers
246 views

Is “have/has got” a perfect for BrE, but not AmE?

In BrE the past participle of get is in most cases got, while in AmE it is almost always gotten. Does that imply that in the context of BrE "have/has got" is a genuine perfect construction, whereas ...
-1
votes
2answers
40 views

How to paraphrase a 3 step process in one sentence? [closed]

Good day everyone, I have the following sentence: Receive qualified developers, screen by more experienced developers. I want to ensure that the meaning is well understood. This sentence is ...
3
votes
5answers
283 views

Are there any English words starting with an “ny” sound? [closed]

Plenty of English words have an "ny" sound (/nj/) in the middle, like onion and canyon. Are there any American English words that start with this sound? My native-speaker intuition tells me this is ...
7
votes
0answers
220 views

British Mass Nouns versus American Count Nouns

British English often employs mass nouns where American English would only employ count nouns. Count nouns are nouns which take pluralization and numerical quantifiers like 'many'. Mass nouns can't be ...
0
votes
0answers
72 views

“Full of spit and vinegar” meaning

I was reading a book and couldn't understand the meaning of this: After all, how many times had her father complained that she was full of more spit and vinegar than most boys? I searched, but I ...
1
vote
0answers
54 views

Is “smothersome” a word?

A variation of "smother", obviously, to describe someone with an inclination to smother other people. "You're just too needy and smothersome." Thoughts? Corrections? Suggestions? Edit: Apologies ...
2
votes
2answers
1k views

What do these two figures of speech mean? Embrace the grind and lower your shoulder

I came across these two figures of speech:(a) Embrace the grind and (b) Lower your shoulder in one of the Instagram posts of Dwayne Johnson(The Rock) Since I am not a native English speaker I just ...
1
vote
3answers
115 views

Does the [ɒ] in “not” sound different from the [ɒ] in “hot”?

I would like to know why the [ɒ] in not often sounds different (more rounded) than the [ɒ] in hot, father, or car in American English. I know that in British English the vowel in not is an [ɔ], but I'...
2
votes
1answer
84 views

When double “l” is considered American English?

I'm struggling with "enroll" and "enrollment". Both answers (this one and this one), given to this question, as well as Wikipedia seems to be suggesting, that double "l" is more common in British ...
1
vote
1answer
178 views

a flap in “wedding” and “bidding”

I'm wondering if a flap occurs in "wedding", and "bidding" in American pronunciation? I can't hear it out here: http://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/american/wedding
1
vote
1answer
65 views

Cipher vs Cypher - British English vs American English [duplicate]

As an English author but long time resident of America, I recently wrote a historical spy thriller that delved deeply into coded messages. I often caught myself writing cipher and cypher. Although I ...
80
votes
16answers
14k views

“Soccer mom”: why soccer?

...why not football mom, baseball mom, or basketball mom? Soccer mom, as far as I can tell, is an American term made popular during the 1996 presidential elections, used to describe a key demographic ...
2
votes
1answer
41 views

Can I write “…argue it sufficiently…”?

in a scientific paper written in American English, I am using the following sentence: "...we would argue that it is sufficiently established that..." Can the sentence be shortened to "...we would ...
1
vote
3answers
44 views

Is using Answerer is correct? [closed]

If there is a position in a company that answers questions related to for example physics, what is the best word that describes this position? "Answerer of Questions related to Physics" ?
1
vote
2answers
86 views

word for a condescending, snarky, yet awkward and jealous, person

i'm looking for a word for a person who is cynical, judgmental, nitpicking, condescending but also flawed, gawky and timid (in an unfamiliar setting), and is harboring some kind of jealousy towards ...