Line

In American English, when we talk about a row of people waiting their turn to do something, we use the word line. If you’ve studied British English, you are probably familiar with the term, queue. However, we don’t use queue in American English. The beginning of the line is the front of the line, and we also say the middle of the line and the end of the line:

  • I was lucky because we got to the front of the line.
  • Bob said he is standing in the middle of the line and it just started moving.
  • The teacher told the misbehaving child to go to the end of the line.

We use be on line to mean many people standing in a row waiting their turn:

  • Even though I got there an hour early, a lot of people were on line.
  • I was on line at the bank for twenty minutes this morning.
  • Excuse me, are you on line?

We also use wait on line to mean many people standing in a row waiting their turn and to emphasize the fact that they are waiting:

  • Even though I got there an hour early, a lot of people were waiting on line.
  • I was waiting on line at the bank for twenty minutes this morning.
  • Excuse me, are you waiting on line?

We use get on line to mean to join others who are on line waiting their turn:

  • got on line and started talking to the guy standing in front of me.
  • If you want to renew your driver’s license, please get on line at Window 4.
  • There is no shortcut to enter the theater. You just need to get on line.

We also use line up to start or being a line:

  • I heard people started lining up at noon!
  • The teacher told the children to line up next to the classroom door.
  • All first class passengers may now line up at Gate 5.

We use cut the line to mean a person or people enter the line from a position other than the end of the line.

  • I think it is rude to cut the line.
  • I hate it when people cut the line of the escalator at the train station.
  • If you cut the line you will be sent to the back of the line.

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