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In India, it is quite common to serve water in a glass made of steel. Here it is...

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But then, we also have a glass made of glass(!) to serve it better. Here it is...

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My colleague asked that if 'Give me a glass of water' is a common expression without any ambiguity, how do we ask someone (In India) if we want water in a glass' glass!

I discussed this with my daughter and she came up with something thought-provoking. She said, we can say...

Give me water in a crystal glass

She argued that in India, when it comes to 'glass crockery', it's not just referred to as 'glass' but 'crystal glass'. Surprisingly, in Google Search, 'crystal glass' comes up with exactly what she said. But I need to confirm with you all.

Before you answer, it's important for me to clarify that Indians don't call these as 'tumblers'. For us, they all are 'glass'. I'm tagging this question with 'Indian English'.

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    when someone ask for glass of water you should in return ask which glass he/she would like to have. :-) – Freddy Oct 28 '14 at 7:29
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    Great question! I want to know the answer, too! I suspect that the usage is regional, though. By the way, I believe that your image of "a glass made of glass" looks too good to be one that's really made of glass; maybe it's crystal, which is much more expensive. – Damkerng T. Oct 28 '14 at 8:57
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    Okay, I won't say anything about tumblers, but I think a more common term (at least in the U.S.) is "cup". And if I ask for "a glass of water," I might be referring to the amount I'm asking for, rather than the particular type of vessel it will be served in; I may not care if the "glass" is made of glass, plastic, or china, so long as my thirst gets quenched. This isn't much different than "stainless silver" vs "silver silver" or "nylon nylons" vs "polyester nylons." In fact, I'm having trouble figuring out what your bottom-line question is here. – J.R. Oct 28 '14 at 10:14
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    How about "...but not in a metal glass"? – Tᴚoɯɐuo Oct 28 '14 at 12:05
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    @J.R. - Tumbler was the first word that sprang to mind when I saw the steel glass. Usually the conversation in my home goes "Would you get me a glass of water?" and the other person asks "Do you want it in the insulated glass or normal one?" – ColleenV parted ways Oct 28 '14 at 12:50
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Hmm. In America, if you refer to water in a "glass" people will normally understand you to mean a container made of glass. Drinking containers made of other materials are typically called "cups", or if they are tall, "tumblers".

Of course if you are at a friend's house and you ask for a "glass of water", he may give you the water in a plastic tumbler. But I don't think that that's really because he thinks of the plastic tumbler as a "glass", but just because he thinks this is an acceptable substitution. Like if you said, "Do you have another chair?", he might bring a stool or a bench if that's all he has.

When someone wants to make clear that they mean a real-live glass and not a metal or ceramic or plastic or whatever drinking vessel, it's not uncommon in America to say "a glass glass" or "a real glass".

Of course you specified "India", so this answer may be entirely irrelevant. :-(

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Here in India it is generally meant that if we ask someone for "a glass of water" the person for sure gets us water in a glass. He or she never understands it in a different manner, since the person asked for water, not for a glass, and obviously one has to give water in a vessel.

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When we say a glass, it usually means a glass made of glass. We don't need to say a glass glass. However, if you want to distinguish it from the glasses made of any other material like plastic or steel, you can call it a plastic glass or a steel glass. You can ask your friend, relative or someone close to you to give you water in a crystal glass if he is better off to have such crockery in his home. But I think it'll be impolite of you if you ask someone, who is not close to you or he is too poor to afford crystal things,to give you water in a crystal glass because crystal isn't ordinary glass; it's very fine quality glass and, of course, is expensive. Nevertheless, we can say he gave me water or bear in a crystal glass.

  • It's not about politeness. I just need a word to describe it. Consider, I'm telling my daughter/wife to bring water in glass made of glass. – Maulik V Oct 28 '14 at 9:15
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    "Bring me some water in a glass cup" might eliminate the ambiguity, I think, so that glass becomes an adjective modifying cup, instead of a noun which might refer to a glass made of crystal, steel, or plastic. – J.R. Oct 28 '14 at 10:16
  • @J.R. For us, cup is this and we don't drink water in that! – Maulik V Oct 28 '14 at 10:50
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    No doubt, the question is great. You can ask for water in a crystal glass at home. But I agree with you that there should be a word that clearly means a glass glass. – Khan Oct 28 '14 at 12:52
  • Maulik, maybe a glass tumbler will work. – Khan Oct 28 '14 at 13:22

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