In Italian, if I were in a house and said Sento odor di gas. (approximately, "I smell gas."), the person to whom I am speaking would probably go check the stove or the water heater, which is normally in the kitchen, or the bathroom. For cooking, we normally use methane, and methane could also be used for the water heater, although in some cases the water heater uses electricity.
If I were to speak of my car and said La mia auto va a gas. I would be saying that my car doesn't need gasoline, but methane or LPG; I could also mean that my car uses gasoline, or alternatively methane or LPG.

Is gas ever used in a similar way, in American English? Even if it used for a different substance, is there any substance that is called gas (excluding gasoline)?


1 Answer 1


Yes. In American English, gas is also used in exacty the ways you mentioned. "I smell gas" would usually be presumed to mean natural gas (methane based gas used for stoves, heaters, water heaters, etc).

Technically speaking, both types of gas are two different words that happen to have the same spelling and pronunciation.

It is usually clear which is meant by context. If you really need to be clear, you can say gasoline, or natural gas.

The word gas more generally also refers to the third state of matter (solid, liquid, gas). Thus a compressed gas cylinder might contain oxygen, nitrogen, helium, propane, or natural gas.

  • Gas may also be used to refer to flatulence (which of course contains a significant quantity of methane). Jul 27, 2014 at 9:12
  • Note that gas is an abbreviation of gasoline. Gasoline in liquid form is still gas, confusing as that is.
    – Era
    May 18, 2016 at 17:03

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