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Questions tagged [american-english]

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

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37
votes
1answer
43k views

How to use hyphens appropriately when listing multiple hyphenated terms?

If multiple hyphenated terms share the same latter half, and I wish to list them without repeating that latter half, how should the hyphens be placed? For example: I will be investigating control ...
58
votes
4answers
17k 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 ...
36
votes
9answers
204k views

"have" vs."have got" in American and British English

I have looked through several questions and answers on EL&U, and often there is an indication that American English prefers "have" while British English prefers "have got". In addition, there are ...
43
votes
7answers
31k views

Are the endings "-zation" and "-sation" interchangeable?

What is with words that have forms that end both in -zation and -sation, such as localization and localisation? Many spell checkers recommend -zation.
26
votes
5answers
37k 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?
26
votes
5answers
51k views

Using contracted forms ("don't", "let's") in a formal text

How compelled should I feel to use non-contracted forms (do not rather than don't and so on) when writing in a rather formal text, say an academic paper? In one case I am afraid to seem too stilted, ...
53
votes
6answers
280k views

"Oriented" vs. "orientated"

What are the origins of the word orientated? As far as I know, the correct spelling is oriented and orientated is not an alternative spelling but an error that is in common use. Is it for example ...
23
votes
6answers
20k 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,...
23
votes
5answers
24k views

ON an American street, but IN a British one. Do the twain ever meet?

In the United States, we say that someone lives on a street, whereas I've noticed that British people say in. For instance: Bubba lives on Washington Street. Colin lives in Cavendish Avenue. I ...
8
votes
3answers
38k views

"If I go.." vs. "If I will go.." referring to the future [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Future tense in conditional clauses Which one is correct? option 1: If I go there, I can meet her or option 2: If I will go there, I can meet her I clearly remember, ...
11
votes
5answers
24k views

Understanding U.S. President capitalization

I was taught at an early age in the USA that when we write about our President, we are supposed to capitalize the title in order to signify that it's on the federal level. Is it correct to always do ...
47
votes
6answers
528k views

"Speak to" vs. "Speak with"

What are the differences between these two phrasal verbs and what are the best situations to use each?
19
votes
5answers
8k 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
22k views

"s" vs. "z" in BE vs. AE

I have trouble understanding why some words change "s"-es to "z"-s from BE to AE and some not. For example: analyse -> analyze characterise -> characterize hypnotise -> hypnotize But: compromise -> ...
90
votes
29answers
24k views

Is there an American English equivalent of the British idiom "carrying coals to Newcastle"?

I'm an American living in the Netherlands who is learning Dutch. There's an idiom in Dutch that describes performing a needless/futile activity, "water naar de zee dragen," which literally translates ...
6
votes
7answers
4k views

Subject–verb agreement — two schools of thought?

I wrote a sentence for our web site that was submitted for proofreading. The proofreader "corrected" my sentence. I asked how sure he was that he was correct and that I was incorrect. He ...
9
votes
7answers
24k views

What is the correct relative pronoun for "government"?

What is the correct relative pronoun for "government"? Which of the following phrases is correct? I am writing for an American [English] audience. The Queensland Government, who licenses several ...
8
votes
1answer
3k views

What is the IPA for "trade"?

Some of my students have a disagreement about transcribing the pronunciation of "trade" in American English. Some say it's (a) [t͡ʃeɪd] while others (and they point to dictionaries that support them) ...
7
votes
4answers
2k views

Garbage/stuff words

I've watched two interviews. One with Grace Park, one with Eliza Dushku. What one can't miss is that Eliza uses an awful lot of garbage words (or what these are called) — um, so, like, you know, ...
39
votes
4answers
14k views

How and when did American spelling supersede British spelling in the US?

Considering that Webster published his first dictionary in 1806, is there a recognised tipping point (year, decade, etc.) that marked the move from traditional British spelling to Webster's American? ...
36
votes
10answers
33k views

How are 'marry', 'merry', and 'Mary' pronounced differently?

The way I pronounce these words is the same. Similarly for other words like these: I pronounce ferry and fairy the same, carrot and caret. Yet, dictionaries show different pronunciations for these ...
3
votes
9answers
11k 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
4k views

Does modifying a collective noun with a number make the subject plural?

The word dozen is a collective noun, i.e., singular when we think of them as groups and plural when we think of the individuals acting within the whole. So we might say: Talking about eggs: "A ...
57
votes
9answers
398k views

Data pronunciation: "dayta" or "dahta"?

I hear "dayta" more often, but what's the correct pronunciation?
34
votes
3answers
19k 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.
17
votes
3answers
6k views

Why is American English so wedded to the subjunctive?

In the sentence She suggested that they go to the cinema there is no way of telling from the sentence in isolation whether it means that the speaker gave advice on attending a moving picture show, ...
3
votes
3answers
1k views

Give it me! Write me! [duplicate]

Our young grandson, who is a Mancunian, says 'give it me', and 'give it me back', which is a northern British standard. It made me think that it is not only northerners who omit the indirect object ...
1
vote
3answers
56k views

"There is a lot of food and fruit" vs. "there are a lot of food and fruit" [duplicate]

Which of the following sentences is correct: There is a lot of food and fruit in the supermarket. There are a lot of food and fruit in the supermarket.
16
votes
2answers
37k views

Why is the phrase "should have went" so widely used?

Rarely do we hear "should have gone" in common speech. Some background: My father immigrated to the US in the late 60s. He learned English first overseas, British English. Then he studied extensively ...
15
votes
3answers
10k views

"nt" pronounced as "n" in American English (as in "Internet"): what is it called?

I know that pronouncing "t" as "d" is called a flap t, but is there a name for pronouncing "nt" as "n" in some words, as is common in American English? Examples: "Internet" is pronounced as "inner ...
11
votes
5answers
2k views

Intention of rising pitches

I have been wondering about the rising pitch used in almost every sentence, by especially young Americans. What is the purpose/intention of rising pitch except in questions? Is it friendly and ...
10
votes
3answers
6k 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
81k views

"In college" versus "at college" versus "at university" [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Which one is more correct: “works at a university” or “works in a university”? It seems that only in the U.S. one says that they are or were "in ...
34
votes
16answers
13k 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 ...
14
votes
5answers
7k views

How should I distinguish between "can" & "can't" in American English pronunciation?

As a non-native speaker, I feel that it is ridiculous that can and can't could sound so similar in American accent. Just now, I was just listening to a video in which the speaker with an American ...
8
votes
2answers
3k views

Is there a clear delineation between the usages of 'this' and 'that' in American English?

One of my linguistics professors speaks English as a second language, and remarked that she never knows which of the two is appropriate. Given a list of examples, all native speakers in the classroom ...
6
votes
4answers
65k views

How do they express the time, in American and British English?

I don't know if this is a good question. But as far as I know, and as I do it, American English also say "after" other than "past" in expressing times. For example, a quarter after six instead of, a ...
1
vote
1answer
2k views

The elision of alveolar plosives

when the phrase "Can't complain" is pronounced [ˈkænt kəmˈpleɪn] I think that the T is dropped in fast speech because of the alveolar plosives. Right? I read that when T comes before these letters: / ...
16
votes
8answers
172k 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, ...
17
votes
7answers
120k views

"On/at/for/over the weekend" in American English

Some sources say that "at the weekend" is wrong, while other ones say it's correct. Which form is acceptable in American English? On Saturdays her sister Ann usually comes to stay with Mary on/...
51
votes
7answers
140k 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 ...
11
votes
10answers
62k views

Is there a word for one who enjoys to eat for the sake of eating (a food hedonist)?

Does such a word exist? I don't mean to excess (IE, a glutton), but rather one who eats because he enjoys eating. Essentially, I'm looking for a word that's synonymous with "a food hedonist", or "a ...
9
votes
4answers
1k views

Omission of 'for' with various quantified time intervals: influence of verb

I came across these two examples, given to illustrate 'a case' where the inclusion of the preposition for is considered optional in the paper "Acquisition of Preposition Deletion by Non-native ...
12
votes
2answers
13k views

How widely-accepted is "What do you got?" to Americans?

Watching A Stranger Among Us, I noticed that Melanie Griffith twice asked "What do you got?" I recognise this as an American construction which sounds strange to me — Brits invariably say either "...
6
votes
5answers
4k views

Suggestion for someone who talks a lot but says little [duplicate]

I know many politicians that avoid interview questions by talking a lot but not really communicating anything. You could say that what they were saying was full of banalities or canned answers or ...
5
votes
5answers
50k views

Which is correct: “I’m done” or “I have finished”?

Which of these alternatives is grammatically correct? I’m done. or I have finished Like I’m done sounds very American, but is it grammatically correct?
7
votes
1answer
5k views

Do "hull" and "full" rhyme?— rules for "short U" sounds before L

I grew up speaking a variety of American English that merges the "short U" sounds before L. The "short U" sounds are the vowels in the words STRUT and FOOT. For me, before an L sound, all words have ...
74
votes
12answers
173k views

"Synced" or "synched"

Which is correct: synced or synched? Is one of these American and the other British spelling or are they interchangeable? I have only ever seen sync used in the computing industry.
31
votes
5answers
86k 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?
11
votes
5answers
258k views

“Do you have” vs “Have you got” [duplicate]

I am studying English and I want to know the main difference between “Have you got?” and “Do you have?” questions. Are they the same? Is one more formal than the other?

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