fellow /mate

valdemar

Senior Member
Español mexicano
Could you please tell me if the next uses of "mate" and "fellow" are idomatic in both AmE and BrE.


1.- There is a fellow/ mate in my work that is always getting late and the boss never say anything to him.
2.- Thomas is one of the fellows/mates in my team.
3.- They are fellows/mates in my English class.
4.- Have you, by any chance, seen the other fellow/mate of this shoe over here?


In case these phrases are wrong, please could you explain to me why and if possible how to fix them.

Thanks.
 
  • Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    A fellow = a man.
    A mate = a) a sexual partner when speaking of animals; b) a friend.

    So in the first sentence you need "fellow". In the next two you might use either, depending on how friendly you feel towards these people. In the third, I think I'd ask Have you... seen the pair to this shoes?
     

    valdemar

    Senior Member
    Español mexicano
    Thank you Keith. So, just to confirm, a "fellow" is any member of the event, but to use "mate" would imply a closeness to me or friendship, right? Also the way you fixed the last one implies that these words are generally used to mean a group rather than just a pair. I asked if the use was idiomatic in both AmE and BrE because I had the idea that "fellow" was English and "mate" America, but apparently this is not the case (I had this perception because in the US people say more 'dude' instead of 'fellow' for example, though is a different use of the words, I guess).
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    When you use the words in addressing a person directly, the distinction is clear. "Listen, feller..." is the beginning of a critical, even aggressive sentence. "Listen, mate..." on the other hand may well continue: "...let me buy you a drink."
     

    valdemar

    Senior Member
    Español mexicano
    When you use the words in addressing a person directly, the distinction is clear. "Listen, feller..." is the beginning of a critical, even aggressive sentence. "Listen, mate..." on the other hand may well continue: "...let me buy you a drink."
    Excellent point, Keith. Thank you sou much, I see the difference now.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I asked if the use was idiomatic in both AmE and BrE because I had the idea that "fellow" was English and "mate" America, but apparently this is not the case (I had this perception because in the US people say more 'dude' instead of 'fellow' for example, though is a different use of the words, I guess).
    "Mate" is never "friend" in American English. "Dude" is only said by certain groups and it goes in and out of style. "Dude" and "work" rarely go together. ;) If you want to be more casual than "man" in American English, use "guy."
    1.- There is a guy at work that is always late and the boss never says anything to him.
    2.- Thomas is one of the guys on my team.
    3.- They are some guys from my English class.
    4.- Have you, by any chance, seen the mate of this shoe? (It's one of a pair, a couple. The two shoes are not friends and they are not male. ;) The other mate suggests there are three shoes.) This is so formal as to be almost comical. "Have you seen my other shoe?"
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    All of Myridon's versions (post #6) echo the usual constructions in my part of the US as well. (An older person might use "fellow" instead of "guy", never "mate".)
     

    skymouse

    Member
    English - London
    Note, however, that there are some commonly used words that contain the word mate, e.g. classmate, workmate, and teammate. These just mean a person with whom you collaborate or associate in the situation named by the first part of the word; they don't imply that the person is a friend.

    In British English, mate means a friend. It is also used as an informal way of addressing someone (they don't have to be a friend — they could be a stranger or someone whose name you don't know.)
     

    interwrit

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Note, however, that there are some commonly used words that contain the word mate, e.g. classmate, workmate, and teammate. These just mean a person with whom you collaborate or associate in the situation named by the first part of the word; they don't imply that the person is a friend.[...]
    But, @skymouse, note that these words that contain the word mate can be also replaced by those ones that contain the word fellow!

    • a classmate -> a class fellow
    • a workmate -> a fellow worker
    • a teammate -> here there probably isn't some "simpler" option than: a fellow team member.
    :)
     
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    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    But, @skymouse, note that these words that contain the word mate can be also replaced by those ones that contain the word fellow!

    • a classmate -> a class fellow :cross: no
    • a workmate (chiefly British) -> a fellow worker :eek: a different application of "fellow" than friend or male person - coworker is much easier.
    • a teammate -> here there probably isn't some "simpler" option than: a fellow team member. I agree there's no such thing.
    :)
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I agree with ewie about "fellow" being dated (except in combinations, such as "fellow-traveller").

    I also agree with hopefultoo that "Listen, mate" is likely to sound pretty aggressive.

    To be honest, valdemar, I think you should avoid both "fellow" and "mate" in the sort of contexts you've given us.:(
     

    hopefultoo

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    There is a fellow/ mate in my work that is always getting late and the boss never say anything to him.

    While mate is idiomatic in BrE its use depends on a combination of who is speaking and who is being addressed. There's a lot of social information in BrE. Mate is considered a working class word and its user, rightly or wrongly, considered to lack the social graces. It is not a word one traditionally considered a social inferior would use to one traditionally considered a social superior e.g., a tradesman doing some work in a house owned by a middle-class family would refer to his co-worker as mate but would not use this term to the house-owner without causing some offence.

    Guy is widely used in the UK today and is just about socially neutral.
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    I think posts #7 and #14, in dismissing "fellow", have forgotten that in many cases it's pronounced "feller".

    "Did you see Suzie out with her feller on Saturday?" (= man-friend)
    "There's a feller where I work who used to know the Beatles." (= man)
    "Hi there all you fellers!" (= men)

    This is perfectly current BrE usage (or else I'm delirious!). Equivalent to "bloke".

    HOWEVER... anyone pronouncing it as "felloe" identifies himself as a high Tory.
     

    interwrit

    Senior Member
    Polish
    It's maybe a little bit off topic, but do you consider the expression "Poor fellow!" to be commonly used now?
     

    valdemar

    Senior Member
    Español mexicano
    Thank you so much for the lot of answers!!. Essentially I wanted to consider three ways of the meanings of "fellow" and "mate":

    1.- Seen as the equivalent of 'man' or 'guy', which, to judge from the answers I should avoid.

    2.- Seen as more on the sense of "being part of the same group, like in a company, school, work,... (I was thinking of this words because I'm not sure but to me 'coleague' sound like being in a team of investigation or in a laboratory. For school I would say class mate, but for work, a group team,etc., I don't know)".

    3.- Seen in the sense of "being just the one to complete the couple", like the sense of my sentence no. 4 (like one memeber of a pair of socks, a pair of wrenches, a pair of gloves, etc.).

    Could you help me please to clarify 2. and 3.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    2.- Seen as more on the sense of "being part of the same group, like in a company, school, work,... (I was thinking of this words because I'm not sure but to me 'coleague' sound like being in a team of investigation or in a laboratory. For school I would say class mate, but for work, a group team,etc., I don't know)".
    I wouldn't use stand-alone "fellow" or "mate" for this situation; I might well use "fellow/mate" as part of a compound noun.
    3.- Seen in the sense of "being just the one to complete the couple", like the sense of my sentence no. 4 (like one memeber of a pair of socks, a pair of wrenches, a pair of gloves, etc.).
    I wouldn't use "fellow" or "mate" in this sense.
     

    hopefultoo

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    HOWEVER... anyone pronouncing it as "felloe" identifies himself as a high Tory.

    A very strange comment, I think. I'm certainly not a 'high tory' but I say fellow. I've always thought 'feller' to be AmE.
     

    hopefultoo

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    It's maybe a little bit off topic, but do you consider the expression "Poor fellow!" to be commonly used now?
    This is largely dependent on social background and education. 'Fellow' is used rather higher up the social spectrum than lower.
     

    skymouse

    Member
    English - London
    1. A fellow worker = someone who (like the other person referred to) is a worker.
    2. A workmate = someone who the other person referred to actually works with.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I remember sometimes, watching an American show on T.V., being struck by the use of "fellow". In particular, in the series "Sopranos" the lady psychiatrist refers to a young man as "this fellow", and I couldn't put my finger on the nuance of the term. I regret I don't remember the exact context, but I think Tony Soprano had said something about his nephew and Dr. Melfi picked him up on that and wanted to discuss him further. There seems to be a use of "fellow" in careful American speech which seems different from the now dated British one. (It was definitely "fellow", not "fellah".)
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    I wasn't dismissing feller (or fellah, as it's sometimes spelt), KB ~ I consider them separate words:)
    Don't let's start confusing fellow (from Old Norse félaga = one who lays down a fee in a joint venture) with fellah (plural fellaheen, from the Arabic = peasant, husbandman).

    Surely feller (= man) is just a pronunciation variant of fellow? Like tomorrer and tomorrow.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Don't let's start confusing fellow (from Old Norse félaga = one who lays down a fee in a joint venture) with fellah (plural fellaheen, from the Arabic = peasant, husbandman).

    Surely feller (= man) is just a pronunciation variant of fellow? Like tomorrer and tomorrow.
    It all depends on where you're from in deciding what's a "pronunciation variant" and what sounds odd. Here "fellah" is a normal casual pronunciation of "fellow." There's a musical called "The Most Happy Fella" which I assure you is not about fellaheen.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    Don't let's start confusing fellow (from Old Norse félaga = one who lays down a fee in a joint venture) with fellah (plural fellaheen, from the Arabic = peasant, husbandman).
    I presume you were being ironical here.

    Yes, they're variant pronunciations of the same word, but I'd say the meanings have diverged sufficiently for /ˈfeləʊ/ and /ˈfelə/ to be considered different (erm) lexical items.
    I wouldn't, for instance, dream of saying "He's a /ˈfelə/ [accredited member] of the Royal College of Surgeons". Nor would I dream of saying "Tracy turned up with her new /ˈfeləʊ/ [boyfriend] last night."

    On the rare occasions I still use the word to mean 'man' ("Have you seen his new girlfriend? ~ wow, is she ever ugly! ~ she'd make a good feller/fellah"), I wouldn't ever say or write fellow.
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    Ironical? No, just pointing out the confusion that arises when we mix spellings.

    Now, you see we differ here. I think that in both the cases you mention, I would pronounce /ˈfelə/, and doubtless continue /ʊəv/ the Royal College... However I would probably spell them differently. Different lexical items, OK. But we've not yet reached the point where we can tell Valdemar that "feller = man is extremely dated" (post #7).
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    we've not yet reached the point where we can tell Valdemar that "feller = man is extremely dated" (post #7).
    I didn't say feller was extremely outdated ~ what I said was (emphasis added)
    I'd estimate that about 97% of BrE speakers would find fellow (= 'man') extremely dated.
    Obviously it wasn't at all visible but I very pointedly didn't say feller was extremely dated:) (I suppose I should really have pointed out explicitly from the start that I treat fellow and feller/fellah as separate doodahs.)
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    A fellow = a man.
    A mate = a) a sexual partner when speaking of animals; b) a friend.

    So in the first sentence you need "fellow". In the next two you might use either, depending on how friendly you feel towards these people. In the third, I think I'd ask Have you... seen the pair to this shoes?
    Would a sailor agree with this distinction?

    I cannot remember ever using "mate" in this manner; "fellow" would not be high on my list of word choices either.
     
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    hopefultoo

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    The use of mate very definitely depends on a combination of social background and regional variation. It is not simply a synonym for friend. I live in the Westcountry and only encounter mate when it is spoken by immigrants from London and northern cities who rarely hold middle-class occupations. Addressed to the wrong person the use of mate is likely to be taken as an offence.
     
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