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

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3
votes
3answers
270 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
168 views

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

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
38 views

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

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. ...
0
votes
7answers
113 views

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

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
30 views

Pronunciation problem [on hold]

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
52 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
17k 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
804 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
508 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
285 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
32k 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
votes
1answer
41 views

What’s wrong with saying “have repeatedly arose”? [closed]

I have a question on this sentence and was wondering why there is an error in it. Conflicts between land developers and conservationists have repeatedly arose, causing Congress to reconsider ...
1
vote
1answer
48 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
281 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
364 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
116 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
103 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
70 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
75 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
273 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
71 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
91 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
134 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
128 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 ...
0
votes
0answers
30 views

Comma after “first” [duplicate]

Can anyone justify the presence and absence of comma after first in the sentences below? First we’ll create a screen for the user to log in. First, we’ll define the AniJS helper and then ...
14
votes
3answers
751 views

Difference between styles of English in technical communication

I have a collaborative software project with two other users. Nearly every technical report and documentation written goes through the following editorial changes to some of the sentences (examples ...
-1
votes
1answer
38 views

How to distinguish the meaning of “repair” and “ fix” [closed]

Are both the same? When do we use "fix" and when do we use "repair"
6
votes
1answer
105 views

Quotation ascribed to Benjamin Franklin, “We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.”

There is a cottage industry in the United States of manufacturing quotations and ascribing them to the American Founding Fathers. A recent one, "We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to ...
11
votes
2answers
2k views

Preventative vs. preventive

In this answer about the non-word disabilitated, the word preventative is compared (unfavourably, if my reading of the implication is correct) to preventive. However, I have always used preventative, ...
31
votes
7answers
2k views

Why do Americans go 'downtown' whilst people in the UK go 'up town'?

People in London, who live in the suburbs, may tell you they work 'up town', meaning in the City or the West End. In other large cities in Britain, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds etc., I think people ...
-2
votes
2answers
49 views

What does 'are you implying me' mean? [closed]

I was showing off for a woman and I told her that I am falling for an older woman. She replied back saying, "Are you implying me?" I am confused about its meaning. What does it mean?
9
votes
2answers
6k 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, ...