The other day, I got in the “10 Items or Fewer” line at my local Trader Joe’s market. The sign said “fewer” and not the more often seen “less.” That’s not a problem, but they didn’t have to change it, according to noted linguist and cognitive scientist Steven Pinker. (See the article cited in a previous post about rules of English you can break.) This British comedian agrees:
What time is supper—I mean, dinner? When I lived in the Midwestern United States, I drank “soda pop,” wore “sneakers” and ate “supper.” Here in California, people don’t do that. They order a “soft drink,” wear “tennis shoes” and cook “dinner” instead. Watch this video by Mental Floss for a fast rundown of more words and phrases for everyday things that differ by region within the country or within the English-speaking world.
One resource I count on for informative, intelligent and fun bits about English is the Visual Thesaurus website. Here’s an article in the site’s Teacher at Work column about the amusing yet frustrating experience English language learners have with the phrasal verb: The Tyranny of Phrasal Verbs: Turned On or Turned Off?
What’s a phrasal verb? A verb plus another word, most often a preposition, that together change the original meaning of the verb. (Five appear in this post!) Find out more in the article.