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I was having a chat with one of my friends and sipping tea at the same time.

He asked me, "what are you doing?" And I replied, "I am drinking tea". It was around 11 in the morning. He said "what an English".

Please let tell me if this usage is correct in the context of US and Canadian English.

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migrated from english.stackexchange.com Nov 27 '13 at 17:36

This question came from our site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts.

That "an" is a big clue, so it was probably not as bad as you think. – Damkerng T. Nov 27 '13 at 17:08
Relevant comic image – Tyler James Young Nov 27 '13 at 18:08
Or from Father Ted (warning: NSFW due to coarse language) on YouTube – Matt Nov 28 '13 at 0:24
Your friend's grammar is slightly off. He should have said "How very English" (or better still: "How very British"), or "What an Englishman". English is a nationality. You cannot be an English. – Matt Nov 28 '13 at 6:57
@Matt I think it's rather that, when refering to people, English is only an adjective. Some nationalities can be nouns: a Canadian for example. AFAIK there's no such word as Canadianman. The English restriction applies to French, Spanish, Dutch and probably others, but not all nationalities. English can be a noun in two specific places: when talking about spin on a ball and in the set phrase "a full English". – Matt Ellen Nov 28 '13 at 9:14

Perfect English grammar in worldwide use. Sounds like your friend may have meant "what an English person you are!" because tea drinking is a stereotype of us English. Many people think the English love tea... and it might be true.

It's also worth noting that if you say "I am having tea" people might think you mean the meal also called tea in the UK.

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to be very precise, I should not use this sentence in my day to day conversation as I am not from Britain. I am having tea makes sense for me. – user58355 Nov 27 '13 at 17:25
In the UK, I am having tea is a parallel to I am having breakfast / lunch / dinner / supper (unless in answer to say 'What are you having to drink?'). I am drinking tea / orange juice / wine refer to the drinks. – Edwin Ashworth Nov 27 '13 at 17:28
No, you can definitely say "I am drinking tea". @EdwinAshworth's comment above is correct - and it's also worth noting that if you say "I am having tea" people might think you mean the meal also called tea – Jonathan Deamer Nov 27 '13 at 17:32
@EdwinAshworth: Tea is a meal only in some parts of the UK (other parts use Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner). Having tea can therefore mean either (esp. working class and Northern areas) having an evening meal, or (esp. upper class) meaning to sit down and have tea that has been carefully brewed in a teapot, typically with biscuits and/or cake. But we never mean having tea to mean just drinking it. For that we'd say "having a cup of tea". – Matt Nov 28 '13 at 6:54
Nobody will think you are having tea, the meal, if it's 11 a.m. They will understand that person is "having a cuppa". – Mari-Lou A Feb 17 '14 at 23:13

The search on COCA shows following results:

Taking tea - 26
Having tea - 43, &
Drinking tea - 174.

Clearly, ...drinking tea is correct. Nevertheless, I think it's not a good practice to offer drinking of tea to the visitors.

Will you drink tea? - Incorrect.
Will you take/have tea? - Correct.

On the other hand, offering liquor comes as a drink.

Will you take a drink?

Also, when the case is about a soft-drink, you say:

I'm having or taking a soft drink. (Note: COCA shows one result of 'drinking a soft-drink' from Christian Science Monitor)

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When offering a drink in the US, we're more likely to say "Would you like a cup of tea?", "would you like something to drink?", etc. Your examples sound like very formal usage to me (but might be common in the UK or elsewhere?). – The Photon Nov 28 '13 at 6:19
Also in the UK, we'd probably ask "Do you want a cup of tea?" or (more formal) "Would you like some tea?" or (Northern British) "(Do) You want a cuppa?". – Matt Nov 28 '13 at 6:43
Agreed. Though I'd better go for Would you like some tea? as offering a cup restricts the quantity! I've seen people (from Germany?) having a mug of tea! – Maulik V Nov 28 '13 at 12:03

I am drinking tea

is a perfectly acceptable and grammatical sentence. Tea is a beverage, you drink it. It is moreover very common to have a tea break mid-morning. You could have also said,

I am having a cup of tea

Which sounds awfully British, and quite refined.

If instead you have renounced the ancient art of brewing loose tea in a teapot and like me are now dropping white tea bags in a chipped mug, filled with freshly boiled water and waiting exactly one minute before fishing it out with your teaspoon, then say:

I'm having some tea.

If you say this before 4 p.m people will understand the beverage. If you say this from 4 p.m and onwards some might think you are having a light meal, indulging yourself with Devon scones and lashings of clotted cream and jam. But only a few people. People rarely do that sort of thing at home nowadays, it's more likely a couple of rich tea biscuits, or if you're lucky, chocolate digestives. Mmmm....

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