A pail of water - bucket or pail?

namlan

Banned
Vietnam
- Could you please give me some water? I can't reach the pail of water.

- Did I use the right phrase here "can't ..........water"?

Thanks a lot!

NamLan
 
  • Harry Batt

    Senior Member
    USA English
    The context is difficult but the scene is easy to visualize. The pail of fresh drinking water hangs above the speaker. He can't reach the handle to bring it down and dip out a glass or cup of water. If he is talking to a stranger you would be okay by making one word substitution, Eg. "Could you please give me some water? I can't reach that pail of water." If he is talking to someone familiar it would be correct if you asked simply, "Could you please give me some water? I can't reach the pail."
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I don't know about other parts of the world, but around here the only time we ever talk about a pail of water is in the nursery rhyme about Jack and Jill.

    Is "pail of water" still a familiar phrase elsewhere?
     

    LuciaT

    Senior Member
    Spanish and Galician
    Hi! I would like to know what is the difference between bucket and pail. I have already looked it up but the translation seems to be the same. Which one may I use to refer to the one children use in the beach? Thank you so much.:)
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    Welcome to the forum, Lucia:)

    My usage is the same as Meeracat's on this.
    I don't know of much (or any) difference between the two items except that pail seems to be (still) more commonly used in the USA than in the UK.
     
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    Topsie

    Senior Member
    English-UK
    I've never thought of it as being an AE/BE thing...:confused:
    Jack & Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water....There's a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza....
    (Though, come to think of it I say "bucket"! ;))
     
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    Nunty

    Modified
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    In the US there may be a regional difference. My mother, who grew up in New York always said "pail", but when we lived in Los Angeles I usually heard "bucket". That said, both terms are easily understood by everyone and not considered odd by anyone.
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    I had a little plastic pail that I took to the beach. It's funny, but when I think about how I use them, I will use "bucket" as an abstraction, but "pail" to refer to specific objects:

    The radiator is leaking; get me the blue pail from the basement to put under it to catch the water.

    Her hat was ridiculous; it looked like she had a bucket on her head.
     

    kitenok

    Senior Member
    I don't expect this will clear anything up at all, but when I was very young my dad would go to work with his lunch pail, which looked something like this.

    The OED has this to say:
    The precise range of vessels denoted by pail, as distinct from the near-synonymous bucket, has varied over time, and there continues to be much regional variation. As a word for a container for milk pail has long been preferred, and it is now frequently taken to be a container for liquids, esp. one made of metal (or plastic); though originally it was made of wooden staves hooped with iron. Cf. dinner-pail n., lunch-pail n.
     

    Nymeria

    Senior Member
    English - Barbadian/British/educated in US universities blend
    I usually say bucket for the normal, everyday, plastic container. I tend to say pail when talking about a smaller, metal container - e.g The cow is being fed out of the metal pail.

    To the beach, I always took a "shovel and [plastic] pail" :)

    In my mind, pails are smaller and differently shaped, more of a tapered bottom, whereas buckets are bigger and wider and cylindrical.
     

    Nymeria

    Senior Member
    English - Barbadian/British/educated in US universities blend
    Yes, a shovel! :cool: For some reason, the plastic toy set used at the beach was always referred to as a "pail and shovel". abenr in post #21 agrees!
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    I wonder how much of that's down to simple euphony?
    To my ears pail and spade just doesn't sound right, whereas pail and shovel does (though it also sounds like you dug canals at the beach rather than building sandcastles).
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    You can use either and most people would understand you.
    In my part of the world if you use pail everyone would think you odd and a good number would wonder what you were talking about. As I suggested earlier, those of us who are familiar with Jack and Jill's adventures on the hill would understand you.
     

    LuciaT

    Senior Member
    Spanish and Galician
    Here, in Galicia we use to learn BE. I had never heard about the word 'pail' but when I looked up the specific word for that you take to the beach I found it. I knew what a bucket is but my doubt was if the one you take to the beach was called bucket as well,so if I say bucket is all right, isn't it?
     

    laluz14

    New Member
    Russia, Russian
    To refer to a container with the lid to transport oils (which looks exactly like a regular 12 liter bucket), can I use the word bucket or there's some other name for such containers in English? thanks a lot!
     
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