A car went and the smoke flew in our house.

"The car smoke is stink."

"The exhaust smoke is stink.

He told me.

It should be car smoke or exhaust smoke when we telling someone the stink was came from the a car's exhaust?


4 Answers 4


Focusing purely on how to refer to the stuff that comes out of the car: "*exhaust smoke" is redundant, and sounds wrong to me. "car smoke" is okay, but isn't the idiomatic way to say it. In American English, better is "car exhaust" or just "exhaust" - that's the more typical way to refer to it.

Additionally, "is stink" isn't grammatical. You could say "stinks" (as a verb), or "is stinky" ("is" + adjective).

So, the closest American English match to your examples would be one of these two:

The car exhaust stinks

The car exhaust is stinky

  • 4
    Technically, I suppose "is stink" could be grammatical, if one understood "stink" as a mass noun. But it's definitely not idiomatic, except in certain varieties of slang usage. Oct 30, 2017 at 15:07
  • 2
    Re "car smoke": the standard British way is "car fumes". For example, "The car's fumes stink" or "the car fumes stink". Oct 30, 2017 at 22:40
  • AmE does sometimes use "smoke" to refer to abnormal engine exhaust: for instance, if it is burning oil, or coolant, or an excessively rich fuel/air mixture. Examples. Oct 31, 2017 at 3:35

If your doubt is whether to use 'car' or 'exhaust', then both sound fine to me, and I would know that you were referring to the smoke produced by the car, provided you say it at that moment, and I'm standing with you/ or am aware of the car that just went by.

But from the grammar point of view, I'll modify these sentence, a little bit, to make it sound better:

  • The car smoke stinks. (Present)
  • The car smoke is stinking. (Present Continuous)
  • The car smoke stank. (Past)
  • The exhaust smoke stinks. (Present)
  • The exhaust smoke is stinking. (Present Continuous)
  • The exhaust smoke stank. (Past)

You could also try "The car's smoke ..." and the "The exhaust's smoke..."

  • 8
    As a native AmEng speaker I would never say "the car's smoke" or the "exhaust smoke/exhaust's smoke." I would say "the car exhaust" (or just "the exhaust", "the fumes", the "exhaust fumes", etc.). It took me a second to draw the connection of "oh he means the exhaust". Oct 30, 2017 at 13:52
  • That's true. Come to think of it, saying 'exhaust' and 'smoke' in a single sentence seems redundant. But exhaust may also be interpreted as the part of the car that produces the smoke.
    – Varun Nair
    Oct 30, 2017 at 14:02
  • Well if you're interpreting exhaust to mean tailpipe, the meaning is still clear. :) Oct 30, 2017 at 14:11
  • Agreed that "car smoke" isn't the normal way to say it in AmEng. Now, I did figure out immediately what it meant, but that might be because I've spent a lot of time overseas.
    – Soron
    Oct 30, 2017 at 14:14
  • The smoke from that car stinks would be ok. Agree that "car smoke" isn't normally what you would say.
    – JPhi1618
    Oct 30, 2017 at 15:45

If you are trying to tell another person what has caused a smell, you could do it like this:

That smell is car exhaust.

That smell you're smelling is car exhaust.

What you're smelling is car exhaust.

You are smelling car exhaust.

The odor you're smelling -- it's car exhaust.

The stink comes from car exhaust.

A car's exhaust caused the smell.

The house reeks of car exhaust.

The house smells like car exhaust now.


The smoke from that car stinks!

The smoke from that car is stinky! (a more childlike way to say it)

That car's exhaust fumes stink! ("fumes" are plural)

That car's exhaust fumes are stinky!

So either "smoke (from a/the/that/this car)" or "exhaust fumes".

  • exhaust (noun) - a system for removing waste gases from an engine
  • fumes - a type of smoke or gas, e.g. also petrol fumes (gasoline fumes in the US)

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