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

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0
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2answers
33 views

Please help me by explaining a sentence I don't understand

Please help me to understand an important email which contains this confusing sentence: It is recommended that you must delete the videos after use, especially after your sponsorship expires. I ...
0
votes
1answer
77 views

English word for “empty-able”

I would love to know what is the word for the meaning : empty-able, like the Name part of a registration form can not be empty, but the Address part can be
11
votes
5answers
3k views

When did the term “flip flop” displace the term “thong” in North America for a type of sandal?

To Australians like me "thong" means a kind of sandal such as recently repopularized by the Havaianas brand but we know it means a kind of G-string in other English-speaking parts of the world. To ...
-2
votes
1answer
46 views

How to express “Help someone secretly”

One of my friend always helps me but does not want me to know that he helps me. Is there a word or phrase to describe this secret helping? Also, if someone wanted to thank the secret helper, is there ...
2
votes
7answers
2k views

US and UK English: queue or waiting line?

What do you usually say, depending on the context and depending if it's US or UK English? wait in line or queue
3
votes
1answer
1k views
8
votes
4answers
18k views

What does “go figure” mean?

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 ...
-1
votes
0answers
10 views

Is my header grammatically correct [duplicate]

I have a list of item to sell. So my header is Selling items list and again there are item list that i want to buy so header is Buying item list Are both header grammatically correct? Is there any ...
4
votes
1answer
146 views

What does “bite” and “quarter-backing” mean in this context?

It's from the first few lines of the foreword to Karl Llewellyn's "The Bramble Bush": These lectures grew out of an attempt in 1929 and 1930 to introduce the students at Columbia Law School to ...
3
votes
3answers
273 views

Me or Myself? Reflexive pronoun?

This is to confirm the number of people for an event I am hosting with someone else; which of the following is correct: A. Until then, if you all could confirm your attendance [either] with John ...
8
votes
4answers
4k views

What's the equivalent phrase in the UK for “I plead the fifth”?

In the United States, a person under examination on the witness stand may "plead the fifth" to avoid self-incrimination. In other words, a person asserts his or her Fifth Amendment right. Citizens of ...
-1
votes
3answers
177 views

What does “tearing your résumé apart” mean? [closed]

I gave my résumé to a person and she replied back as follows: When you look at the below list of issues, you’ll probably think I'm tearing your résumé apart. I guess I am, in a way. But, I ...
-1
votes
2answers
60 views

a definition of the phrase “ On both accounts” [closed]

hi I have a problem with this phrase " on both accounts". what's the definition? I see this phrase in TOEFL IBT tes 7. the student said two characteristic of something and the teacher said that. ...
1
vote
7answers
136 views

An exact word for the opposite of academic progress? [closed]

I have been confronted with a word so many times for which I couldn't find any equivalent in English. What is an opposite term for academic progress? I mean specifically when one is no longer doing ...
11
votes
5answers
2k 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
34 views

Pronunciation problem [closed]

I am from India. I am very eager to learn English. So I am used to add some English words with my language. But My friends says that you are having problem with your pronunciation. I tried a lot of ...
7
votes
3answers
9k views

What does the phrase “it’s like Groundhog Day every day” mean, and where does it originate?

Some background first: I was reading about the futility that has become the Cleveland Cavaliers’ NBA season after Lebron James’s departure in the newspaper of the Plains Dealer, when I came across ...
5
votes
2answers
5k views

Which is correct, “on-line” or “online”?

I am still seeing uses of on-line, though I think it is incorrect. For example: A web browser enables a user to go on-line/online. Can you tell me which is the more appropriate to use, on-line ...
2
votes
3answers
53 views

Is “for short” correct?

In conversation I used the phrase "for short" in the context: "I will call you blank for short." I know I've heard the phrase before, but I'm wondering if it is actually acceptable English? If ...
4
votes
6answers
18k views

Pronunciation of 'aunt' in the US

I was under the impression that all Americans pronounced aunt like the insect, ant (/ænt/), or relatively similar sounding variants such as the southern aint (/eɪnt/). According to both Webster and ...
11
votes
3answers
10k 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 ...
4
votes
5answers
28k 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.
8
votes
2answers
829 views

Where do “shenanigans” come from?

Shenanigans, or shenanigan, also with several variant spellings, can be dated to 1855 USA in both the OED and Etymonline, but the OED simply says "Origin obscure" and Etymonline throws a few guesses ...
7
votes
10answers
511 views

Alternative to “a bunch”?

About two years ago I watched some old Monty Python interviews. In one of them, Graham Chapman, a Brit, makes fun of Terry Gilliam (the only American) for his lack of vocabulary. He specifically cited ...
2
votes
5answers
297 views

How does “spanner” come to mean “a wrench”?

"Wrenching" refers to an injury in which some muscle is forcibly twisted. A wrench is a tool that applies a twisting force to something, so that seems consistent. "To span" means to bridge a gap. ...
6
votes
5answers
33k views

how to reply to Howdy

I hear from people greet saying "howdy". I guess that is short form of how do you do. I normally reply that "I am good and how are you doing?". Is there cultural specific reply that would give more ...
2
votes
5answers
10k 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
40 views

Meaning - lawin'

As Calpurnia, one Miscellany 195 character in the story, notes, ‘First thing you learn when you’re in a lawin’ family is that there ain’t any definite answers to anything.’ I hazard that ...
1
vote
1answer
50 views

What does “Prepare to have your pleasure glands carpet-bombed” mean?

Check it out inside, man. It's bigger than your house. (describing a van ) Prepare to have your pleasure glands carpet-bombed. Watch out for the floors,'cause they're marble. From the movie judgement ...
8
votes
6answers
2k 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
287 views

Are constructions like “That's me out, then” primarily British rather than American?

Prompted by comments to this question on English Learners (about "That's you done"), I've been searching Google Books for similar constructions of the general form that's [pro]noun adjective (for this ...
5
votes
1answer
76 views

When did it become common to 'double the conditional'?

Twins is a 1988 comedy featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito as genetically engineered twins. The fact that they’re genetically engineered is used to explain the differences between ...
9
votes
5answers
2k views

'Little' and 'small' in British vs American English

Is the preference for 'little' over 'small' one of the things that differentiates British from American English? I find expressions like "I'm only little" or "She's only little" in British children ...
4
votes
2answers
365 views

Meaning of Down to the?

What is the meaning of down to the? E.g. in this statement: In order to use this feature, the statements must be exactly the same - down to the number of spaces, tabs, capital/small letters. ...
6
votes
8answers
2k views

What is the closest alternative to “rubbish” in American English?

What is the replacement for "rubbish" in American English? I would think "crappy" but it seems a bit stronger than needed.
1
vote
2answers
54 views

What does “stick a bulls-eye on your back” mean? [closed]

What does this mean? It's too bright up there, you might as well stick a bulls-eye on your back. From the movie Judgment Night (1993).
7
votes
3answers
4k views

Do Americans say 'cheers' to mean 'thanks'?

I find myself these days saying 'cheers' all the time as a kind of mild form of 'thanks', and I heard it said a lot round here (Northamptonshire, England). It's not even a commoner thing, I'd say the ...
16
votes
2answers
2k views

What does “Clearasil-scented grammatical sloth” in casual American speech mean?

John McWhorter, associate professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University comments on the growing sophistication (or devolution) of English language among Americans in the ...
0
votes
1answer
118 views

What does “on the couch” mean? [closed]

What does this mean ? I'm on the couch tonight for sure From the movie Judgment Night (1993).
2
votes
3answers
1k views

To give someone the 411

"To give someone the 411" is short for information but is this phrase common in the US and/or in Britain and is it still up to date or outdated?
2
votes
2answers
107 views

Why is there “Black English” but not “White English”?

African American Vernacular English is shortened to a less precise phrase "Black English". Also, Black English is used in a broader sense: Black English is a term used for both dialects of English ...
-1
votes
2answers
72 views

Grammatical correctness of the sentence [closed]

Here is a sentence which doesn't really sound grammatically correct. I would appreciate if any one can have a look and let me know if the sentence could be improved. After all, when someone spends ...
3
votes
1answer
76 views

What led to the increased usage of “schtupping”?

I was listening to a television show the other day and one of the characters used "schtupping": schtupping — to have sexual intercourse with Dictionary.com notes that the term's origin is ...
3
votes
2answers
274 views

What does “pedigree” mean in this context?

"He constantly punishes himself psychologically. In his eyes he is inferior in pedigree to those very confident college graduates against whom he competes." The context on the story is the person who ...
0
votes
1answer
73 views

Can we use both British English and American English in the same article?

Can we use British English trends and American English trends (such as spelling, or turns of phrase) in different sentences in the one topic?
2
votes
1answer
100 views

First use of the slang term “Scrub”?

The slang term "scrub", when referred to a person, can mean several things. It seems like the original usage as an adjective is someone who is not good at something - video games, sports, etc. I am ...
2
votes
3answers
135 views

What does it mean “I'm old. I've seen a lot of bubbles burst. :)”?

I met a women who was in Silicon Valley asked, "You must have seen the bubble burst then?" She replied back saying, "I'm old. I've seen a lot of bubbles burst. :)" What does it mean? Is ...
2
votes
3answers
5k views

“On which” or “upon which”

Today, I am writing technical documentation that instructs the user how to install software to a server. I encountered the following sentence and am unsure which is correct: When installing to a ...
1
vote
7answers
2k views

How do American English and British English use the definite article differently?

I decided to make sure that I know this important difference between American and British English, so I wrote what I have found out so far and I would be grateful to anyone who reads this and tells me ...
2
votes
3answers
134 views

Is it possible to learn English by just listening and speaking (without knowing formal grammar rules) [closed]

My native language is Chinese. Most people in my country grow up without having been taught formal grammar. I am surprised to find foreigners being taught Chinese and learning grammar rules that even ...