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Often parking spots have straight lines between which you have to park your car, parallel to the line. However, let's say, I see a car a parked diagonally between the two lines.

How would I describe the car alignment wrt the parking spot?

Should I used the word lean/tilt? And say I want to tell someone to correct the alignment, should I say

Park your car straight?

This is the literal translation of the expression I would have used in my native language, I would like to know if this is how native speakers would say it?

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    No, "lean" or "tilt" is more about a difference with a plumb line. You can use "askew", "diagonally", "misaligned", "not parallel"... – Victor Bazarov Oct 26 '15 at 17:18
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    This native speaker thinks askew is somewhat dated/poetic (like afoot, afar, a-roaming, but not like asleep, aloud). But I'd quite happily say Your car in parked on the skew. Please park more carefully next time. – FumbleFingers Oct 26 '15 at 18:08
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    If they're parked diagonally between the lines, that's crooked. But if they go over the line, and particularly if they're over it by a significant amount, that's known as double-parking, and the world would be a better place if this was considered an acceptable response. – Mason Wheeler Oct 27 '15 at 19:12
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    @FumbleFingers where are you from? That is totally unnatural to me. – Azor Ahai Oct 29 '15 at 2:53
  • @PressTilty: I'm UK South East, as it says in my profile. I suppose if you think parked on the skew is "unnatural", you'll probably think parked skew-whiff is even more weird. They're both pretty ordinary colloquialisms to me, but my main point was that the dated prefix version askew isn't a word I'd often use. – FumbleFingers Oct 29 '15 at 13:38

10 Answers 10

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"Lean" or "tilt" would give the impression that the car was in danger of tipping over. The most common way to describe it where I am from (northeast US) is crooked. Some examples:

That car is too crooked for another car to fit next to it.

or

That car is parked crookedly.

To get someone to correct a parking attempt, you would tell them to

Straighten up your car!

  • +1 for crooked in the northwest corner of the U.S. too! – Adam Oct 26 '15 at 19:49
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    note that it's pronounced "crook-ed" where the "ed" is like the name "Ed" or the last half of "head". - Word looked weird to me at first because I'm more used to hearing it than seeing it. – DoubleDouble Oct 26 '15 at 20:30
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    English is such a beautiful language with all its exceptions ;-) @DoubleDouble – Stephan Bijzitter Oct 27 '15 at 11:06
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    @StephanBijzitter As I learned in school "I before E, except after C, except when it isn't" – corsiKa Oct 27 '15 at 18:32
  • @corsiKa The rule I learned was "I before E, except after C, and except in A, as in neighbor or weigh". Basically you can use the rule except when the "ei" syllable has a long A sound. Stupid rule/grammatical exception, but it works in most cases (I haven't been interested enough to expound to see if it's truly universal.) – Tim S. Oct 27 '15 at 21:46
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In my experience, most native speakers would use the term diagonal when referring to misalignment and line up or straighten when giving a direction to do the same.

Example

Your car is parked slightly diagonally. Please straighten it.

9

As you ask for common phrases, without implying formality, here are some examples that are common in the UK:

  • to be parked on the skew,
  • to be parked skew-whiff (pronounced skewiff),
  • to be parked at an angle,
  • to be parked wonky (credit to @AndyT)
  • (caution: vulgar, but not uncommon) to be parked on the piss.

If in doubt, at an angle is probably more universally understood in the UK. Skew-whiff is the most common in my experience region (Mid West). The latter example is generally seen as more critical (It isn't something you would generally tell your grandma) and should be avoided if you do not which to cause offense - however, I have kept it in the list in case you hear it in conversation: it is not to be taken literally.

This brings me to a cultural point. In the UK, at least, it is more common to describe the parking with comparison to that of more considerate drivers. Put simply, the most common description of the situation would be "the car is parked badly".

  • As an ex-pat Brit, these are definitely the phrases I'd use. – piers7 Oct 27 '15 at 8:28
  • "on the piss" would definitely be valid, and I do understand it to mean "at an angle", i.e. it is a description of the position, not of the driver. – AndyT Oct 27 '15 at 11:25
  • Another phrase I'd use in the UK is "wonky", as in "he's parked his car a bit wonky". (I didn't think this was worth making an answer on its own. Feel free to edit it into yours if you like it). – AndyT Oct 27 '15 at 11:27
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    Thanks! Im glad I'm not the only one here who has heard/used that phrasing. I've only really heard it used when being critical of the action (i.e. it was parked on the piss, you've fitted the light switch on the piss), so I've updated for clarity (assuming this is a correct depiction) and added your suggestion with credit @AndyT. – JArkinstall Oct 27 '15 at 11:38
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A car that is not parked correctly relative to the lines is askew

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    No, it's not. I mean, you could say that and not be incorrect, but no one would ever say this except in the most technical of contexts. The car is parked diagonally or not straight or crooked, but no one would ever say that it's askew. – ell Oct 26 '15 at 23:01
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    @sgroves While crooked might be more common, askew is definitely not unheard of. – Kevin Oct 27 '15 at 3:07
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    @sgroves google's ngram tool backs me up, books.google.com/ngrams/… – Kevin Oct 27 '15 at 3:13
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    I would certainly use this... – SeanR Oct 27 '15 at 11:53
  • It was the first word that came to mind for me as well, but I agree that "crooked" would be considered more common/informal in the US. – Adam Davis Oct 27 '15 at 13:35
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I'm from the Southwest US and live in California now, and some of the other answers, like "crookedly", "askew" or "on the skew" sound weird to me. "Diagonally", to me, implies that it's parked at a 45 degree angle to take up two spots on purpose. I would say that "the car is angled", "parked on (or over) the line", and "needs to be straightened".

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Though there are more precise words for it, I would actually use the phrase "not straight"

That car is not parked straight.
The car is not straight. ("parked" is implied)
See how the car isn't [parked] straight?

Then your literal translation to correct the straightness is pretty close.

Try to park more straightly next time.
Will you straighten out the car for me?
Try to straighten the car.
Please straighten out the car.

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    Try to park more straightly next time. – abligh Oct 27 '15 at 13:03
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    In casual, spoken American English we tend to adverbize things on a whim. "Try to park straight next time" sounds much more natural. I wouldn't write it in a textbook, but I'd certainly say it that way. – Preston Oct 31 '15 at 7:28
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No-one seems to have mentioned the word "slant" yet. You could describe the car as "parked on the slant" (this might be a Britishism, although the word "slant" is not) or "slanting".

  • The "Britishism" is just from the structure of "on the" - U.S. would say: "the car is parked slanted" – DoubleDouble Oct 27 '15 at 18:35
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To me, a native New Yorker living in California, the most easily understood phrase would be "That was a crooked job of parking." You can't say,"You parked crooked." Because you need to use an adverb, "You parked crookedly." And I would say that was a questionable word to use, that is, not frequently heard.

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A British expression, that I've never heard from elsewhere is simply to say the parking is Wonky.

Wonky can be applied to anything that isn't straight or isn't functioning correctly.

  • I've begun to use "wonky" on a regular basis. American peers find it weird, but the meaning is obvious. – Preston Oct 31 '15 at 7:29
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Another colloquialism, but "your parking is shit" should cover any form of positional errors.

Also "you park like a nanna" also implies a poor job of parking, but does not suggest the effort was substandard, just the end result.

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