165 votes
Accepted

Why "grand theft auto", not "grand auto theft"?

The term is "grand theft" and the category it goes into (based on what is being stolen) is "auto". Grand theft, also called grand larceny, designates theft that is large in magnitude or serious in ...
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  • 25.2k
63 votes
Accepted

What do Americans call a person when they cannot remember the right name?

I think your examples would be understandable to contemporary speakers of AmE, but they are usually reserved for objects with forgotten identities. That being said, comments and synonyms of the terms ...
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63 votes

What is the difference between "behavior" and "behaviour"?

In fact, there is no difference between behaviour and behavior except spelling. The former is preferred in British and Commonwealth English, the latter is the American spelling. The entries are ...
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  • 17.5k
59 votes
Accepted

What is the difference between "behavior" and "behaviour"?

They mean the same thing; behaviour is the British English spelling; behavior is the American spelling. The definitions say the same thing in different ways.
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53 votes
Accepted

How do Americans respond when asked for their names?

There are as many answers to this as there are situations. In informal settings, one might only give their first name. So, if I'm at a bar and I start chatting with someone, I would usually only give ...
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  • 25.2k
53 votes
Accepted

What does "meat" mean?

The use of these words varies between countries. Your friend is clearly employing the Indian English colloquial use of the word. I have visited India several times and it doesn't take long to pick ...
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  • 7,998
52 votes
Accepted

Why are 'beef' and 'pork' and 'mutton' used to refer to the meat of cows and pigs and sheep?

This is fundamentally a class distinction. With any given amount of land and labor, more food value can be created from growing grain and vegetables than from growing animals for meat. In the ...
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52 votes

"Bathroom" or "Restroom"

Both usages are acceptable to describe the room you describe. Restroom is probably used more often due to the environment where those larger, several stalls, several sinks, bathrooms exist. Restroom ...
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  • 7,305
51 votes

What is the sports hall in schools called in English?

In British School, that would be more likely to be called a 'Sports Hall' than a 'Gym'. In Britain, one tends to think of a 'Gym' as a room with weights, and machines, rather than a large hall.
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48 votes
Accepted

American equivalent of British "takeaway"

As far as I know, that would be called takeout (sometimes referred to as takeout food). At least, that's what I've most commonly heard my American and Canadian friends say when talking about a ...
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48 votes

Is calling a woman "madam" offensive?

In British English at least, it is inoffensive to use "Madam" as a form of address (equivalent to "Sir" but for women), as in "May I be of any assistance, Madam?". ...
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  • 22.4k
48 votes

Would Americans say: "He sat down 9 feet from me." or "He sat down 3 yards from me."?

Feet is the more common, conversational usage in the U.S. Your speaker would say he sat nine feet away from me Yards are often used to describe particular things that are traditionally measured in ...
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  • 7,305
47 votes

Why "years to life" instead of "years of life"?

Because it isn’t “years of [her] life,” describing where the years are coming from—that’s implicit. Instead, it’s a range: from a minimum of 14 years, to a maximum of “life,” that is, until the ...
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  • 3,684
47 votes

Why are there two “is”’s in: Why is yawning is contagious?

There is no "explanation". These are simply errors. You should not see these in any edited text, but this kind of stumbling over words is not uncommon in unrehearsed speech. The example in ...
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  • 149k
45 votes
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What does "Nailed it" mean?

I believe that you are referring to the idiomatic meanings. nailed it to complete a task successfully or get something right Example. A: Oh, you didn't burn the cake this time. B: Yep, ...
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  • 45.1k
43 votes

Would Americans say: "He sat down 9 feet from me." or "He sat down 3 yards from me."?

I am very much on board with FumbleFingers' comment. Suspecting neither, that most would call it "feet", but rather than being precise would instead say "about 10 feet". Accurate ...
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43 votes
Accepted

Do we say "it is on the news" in both American and British English?

The explanation you got is technically correct, but misses the main difference between the two. If something is "on the news", it means news shows (usually TV or radio) have mentioned or ...
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  • 13.7k
39 votes

Why "grand theft auto", not "grand auto theft"?

In English, we can move the head of noun phrase, which normally appears at the end, to the beginning. This helps with the naming systems used in technical jargons and other situation in which we want ...
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  • 6,231
37 votes
Accepted

“Let for each 𝑗” vs. “For each 𝑗 let”

Mathematician here. Your proofreader is right. The revised version is how this is normally written. I would understand your original text, but it would make me stumble. You should avoid wording that ...
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  • 6,461
36 votes

You look catfish vs You look like a catfish?

I believe the most appropriate phrase would be: You look like a catfisher. That is, you look like a person who catfishes. The sentence "You look like a catfish" just makes me think someone is ...
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35 votes
Accepted

Is it OK to mix American and British English?

Sure. For example, Canadian English has standard spellings that are derived from both British and American influences. Canadian spelling of the English language combines British and American ...
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  • 7,973
35 votes

What is the meaning of Five Thousand and No/100 Dollars in a contract?

In the United States, when writing a check, it's customary to write and 00/100 or and no/100 or and xx/100 before "dollars" to indicate that no cents are to be added beyond the indicated number of ...
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  • 27.4k
34 votes
Accepted

What should I say if someone from the opposite side of the earth says “good morning”?

I’m in Chicago and most of my team is in Paris, so this is a situation I have a lot of practice with! My primary recommendation is: reference the time of your audience. However, the key fact is: ...
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34 votes

Is "plugging out" electronic devices an American expression?

In America, we use the term "unplug", not "plug out"
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32 votes

Meaning: "waiting for 6 hours" vs. "6 hours since I was waiting"

No. I have been waiting for you for 6 hours. It is now 7:00, and I have been waiting for you since 1:00. It's been 6 hours since I was waiting for you. I was waiting for you until 5:00, but ...
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  • 31k
32 votes
Accepted

"What's your favorite actor?" (AmE)

No, I don't think this is acceptable -- I've never heard this used before in American English, and I'm pretty sure it isn't used in any dialect. An actor is a person and must be referred to as "who." ...
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  • 7,594
31 votes
Accepted

The female equivalent of "don't break my balls"

I'm not sure there's a direct female equivalent, but there's a gender-neutral expression with a similar meaning and level of vulgarity: Get off my ass! That being said, I think it's much more ...
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