Topics having to do with multiple meanings of a word or phrase.

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0
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1answer
344 views

order of magnitude of words describing the size of a group [closed]

Are there any definitive, or even generally accepted guides which indicate the order of magnitude of: pack party throng rabble horde drove swarm plague There is some agreement that "couple" is 2, ...
1
vote
1answer
54 views

'Ambiguous Nuts' or 'To Shell or not to Shell'

How does one remove the ambiguity of shelled peanuts? Must one just not use the adjective 'shelled' in relation to peanuts, or other nuts, or shellfish?
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0answers
15 views

should “that” be used, or not? [duplicate]

should "that" be used in this instance or not, and why? I have come to the conclusion that I want to study international relations" or "I have come to the conclusion I want to study international ...
5
votes
2answers
238 views

Is a “blue bird” the same as a “bluebird”?

Is “blue bird” in the following quotation from Lady Chatterley’s Lover referring to an actual bluebird? The lush, dark green of hyacinths was a sea, with buds rising like pale corn, while in the ...
3
votes
1answer
544 views

“to not get” vs “not to get”

I came across this sentence in an article, "As she speaks of her family, friends and life, it's difficult to not get that 'feel good' mood." I'm wondering if the following sentence could also mean ...
8
votes
1answer
398 views

Why and how did “a sensible boy” become “intelligent and prudent”?

Italians often get confused by sensible and sensitive. If I tell them He's a sensible boy; he studies hard, saves his money, and plans ahead. They are quite bewildered. To them, sensible is ...
0
votes
3answers
101 views

Meaning of “I have three books and CDs”

I have three books and CDs. Does this mean I have three books and three CDs? Or are there three items in total? Are both possible? I am asking for a native speaker's opinion.
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2answers
1k views

The use of “had to”

Does the following phrase mean it must be true? This fact had to be true. Or it must have been true? I would like a native speaker's opinion on this. I often hear it used in the second ...
0
votes
2answers
182 views

Ambiguity in use of relative pronouns

The animal ate the father of Jay, who was an engineer. So who is the engineer here? Father or Jay? How can I use which, that, who to refer to the whole object or only to parts of the object?
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5answers
2k views

Etymology of “nick” in, in the nick of time?

We have the nick meaning prison, as in "he served time in the nick", then we have the verb to nick, meaning to steal; but if the police catch you red-handed, then "you've been nicked". And if you led ...
0
votes
1answer
201 views

Meaning of “Smiles Slip”

I don't quite understand something: source Brazil will, in one form or another, be ready for the World Cup. But when it comes to hosting the tournament, those famous Brazilian smiles may ...
0
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1answer
62 views

Is there an ambiguity in “the most purified gold”?

Is there an ambiguity in the question: Which country has the most purified gold?" Which has (the most purified) gold? say 24 carat gold Which country has the largest amount of purified ...
4
votes
3answers
255 views

Meaning of “Discretion”

I saw this dictionary entry, and it says "discretion" could mean approximately either 1) the right to choose what to do or 2) the quality of being careful what you do. The dictionary has these two ...
0
votes
1answer
226 views

On English Phrases with Essential Changes in Meaning [closed]

In any living language the change in meanings of the words and phrases is a natural phenomenon. But sometimes this change is very essential and a certain word or phrase loses its original meaning ...
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votes
2answers
412 views

What does “Tell me if you love me” really mean? [closed]

What does "Tell me if you love me" really mean? I have two interpretations, please tell me which one is correct: 1) Tell me whether you are in love with me or not. 2) Tell me about XXX, to prove ...
0
votes
1answer
218 views

Difference Between “View” and “Viewpoint”?

Suppose the context is people giving their opinions in a discussion. How are "view" and "viewpoint" different? Some dictionaries seem to say they are the same. What do native speakers think?
1
vote
1answer
127 views

“falling due” vs “due”

What's the definition of falling due and how did its sense materialise? Please compare it against "due"? I'm mindful that it's an accounting/business term: here are its matches on Google Books. I'm ...
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vote
2answers
202 views

Meaning of “I had just finished year 10 and summer break had begun”

I had just finished year 10 and summer break had begun. What's the meaning of that year 10? Does it mean his age is 10? Or does it mean it's his tenth year of his school?
0
votes
1answer
100 views

Is there any difference between remembers everything and never forgets?

If we have the two sentences: John remembers everything. and John never forgets. Are there any nuances or tones that give different meaning to the two phrases.
0
votes
1answer
83 views

Ambiguity about passive in my textbook

In my textbook, it said "In an active sentence we need to include the agent as subject; using a passive allows us to omit the agent by leaving out the prepositional phrase with by" Ex: ...
0
votes
1answer
477 views

“Opulence is the end”: has this a double meaning? [closed]

This quote in its context means "death caused by the opulence (wealthy life)". Opulence is the end because it can make people do things they wouldn't do otherwise. My question is: can this quote also ...
1
vote
1answer
218 views

Is there ambiguity in this sentence?

Further to fathom Aquinas on this matter, however, it is useful to remember that, when he explains what goodness is, he typically says that to be good is, quite generally, the same as being ...
1
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3answers
837 views

Use of “may need to” when you actually need to

In software documentation, I recently read: If you move a job to a different folder, you may also need to update configuration that was referring to that job. But if you have a "configuration ...
2
votes
2answers
184 views

Ambiguous? “someone lives between place A and place B” [closed]

Is this sentence: “someone lives between place A and place B” ambiguous? Depending on the cities, I wonder whether it means: "someone lives in a place C between A and B" Or, "someone keeps ...
3
votes
1answer
124 views

What do you call the linguistic ambiguity in an assertion "Blah is the Best X?

I don't know the correct name of the following characteristic or phenomena to search for it on Google for further study and exploration: Someone says they live in the "Best Democracy" and they ...
3
votes
2answers
128 views

Antecedent Precedence?

Background: I was working on a project and was having a colleague of mine proof-read a piece of documentation. He said that one sentence was ambiguous because he couldn't determine what the antecedent ...
2
votes
1answer
83 views

Phrase interpretable as expressing A, or as B, or as “A and B”

Within the world of terms like double entendre, multiple entendre, and polysemy is there a way of more specifically expressing the situation where there is a remark that can be understood to say ...
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6answers
260 views

Does the professor think that I'm pregnant?

Yesterday, I handed my assignment to the professor as I was reaching the deadline. For some reason it took a while for her to check my paper, which made me uneasy, but eventually she looked at me in ...
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votes
1answer
129 views

How to clarify the meaning of “don't forget my son”?

There are two meanings of "Don't forget my son" A directive addressed to your own son. A directive addressed to someone else about your son. You want to use meaning #2. You can emphasize meaning ...
0
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1answer
431 views

The use of “actually” and “whatsoever”

The word, actually means to "emphasize a fact or a comment, or that something is really true." So why is whatsoever used in this sentence You have no right whatsoever to read what is written ...
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votes
1answer
230 views

What percentage is equal to almost all? [closed]

If you use the term "almost all" in a sentence what percentage would you attribute to that? Example 1: Dan at almost all of the pie. Mary had the rest. Example 2: Almost all kids who go to college ...
3
votes
1answer
224 views

Adjective for “can't think of it now, but I'll know it when I see it”?

This happens when someone asks you about a fairly new song. You can't remember the lyrics or the music, but when it comes on the radio, you'll know that's the one. What adjective would describe that ...
2
votes
1answer
90 views

What would you call this kind of prepositional phrase?

What would you call a sentence that goes something like The foreman sent a worker to find me with a hammer. The sentence is ambiguous, and could mean either: The foreman sent a worker to find ...
1
vote
1answer
256 views

What is the difference between “brush aside” and “brush off”?

He brushed her ideas / accusations aside He brushed her ideas / accusations off She brushed him off / aside after breaking up What's the difference between brush off and brush aside? I looked the ...
6
votes
1answer
5k views

Controversy over verb choice in “neither you nor I {is/am/are} in control”

I was watching the film A Game of Shadows starring Robert Downey Junior and Jude law when this line came up, "...neither you nor I is in control..." (I can’t remember the exact words that ended the ...
1
vote
1answer
368 views

Ask: “You don't think this is right”, Answer:“No, I don't”. What does that mean? [duplicate]

English sentences can be very fascinating... or downright confusing, depends on how you look at it. For example, if A asks B:"You don't think the Josh is right on this, do you", and B answers:"No, I ...
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votes
1answer
66 views

How to comprehend “The output should be false.”? [closed]

Consider a function in a computer program which returns a boolean value (true or false). The output should be false。 can be interpreted as either of the following two: 1. As we expected, the output ...
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votes
2answers
100 views

Usage of the word “commuted”? [closed]

The word commuted has multiple meanings (the arcane one being) - reduction in a judicial sentence. Heretofore, I thought it only meant travelled (from one place to the other). I am looking for ...
0
votes
3answers
237 views

Tricky pronoun and antecedent agreement

I'm currently taking a grammar class and the professor gave us this phrase to ponder upon. She said that there was a problem with it. I can't seem to find the problem nor the solution. Manolette ...
9
votes
2answers
253 views

What is the name of the ambiguity in the phrase “I want to visit clubs with attractive women”?

I want to visit clubs with attractive women. This phrase can be interpreted in two ways: I want to visit clubs myself, but the clubs I visit should have attractive women. I want to take ...
3
votes
1answer
151 views

It was established on a rocky foundation [closed]

It was established on a rocky foundation. Does it mean steady or shaky?
4
votes
2answers
319 views

Can I use the word “must” in subjunctive mood?

I'm a student in China. Our English exam has a grammar item. 54.My boss ordered that the legal documents __ to him before lunch. A.be sent B.were sent C.were to be sent D.must be ...
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votes
2answers
169 views

Not shifting the adverbial of time in reported speech

I know that generally, in reported speech e.g. tomorrow shifts to "the following day". But I also know that in some cases it can remain, e.g: He said he would do that tomorrow. That one should ...
3
votes
2answers
205 views

Is ”If I leave, it’s because Bob has arrived” ambiguous?

If I leave, it’s because Bob has arrived. Does this mean: Bob has not arrived yet. When Bob does arrive (shortly), I may leave. Bob is here now and requesting my attention. Therefore, I may ...
3
votes
2answers
391 views

If/when in this example?

I am struggling with understanding when I can use if/when interchangeably. The situation is like this, I meet my friend outside who is heading to the dentist. I say (in that situation, knowing he is ...
2
votes
3answers
150 views

Phrase meaning “To have passed or currently be at”

I have 40 characters, (broken up into two lines of 20,) to send hints to users about the location of a "prize" buried somewhere in a grid. There is ambiguity when I tell the user if, at any time ...
4
votes
10answers
659 views

Phrase meaning “North, but not directly North, from here”

I have 40 characters to give hints to users about the location of a "prize" (Broken up into two lines of 20 characters.) There is some ambiguity when I send the following hint: The prize is somewhere ...
8
votes
3answers
2k views

What’s the difference between “line” and “row”?

I’m not exactly sure under which circumstances is line or row the more suitable term. In Portuguese, they both translate to the same word linha, which can be used for both a drawing line or for an ...
2
votes
2answers
5k views

When is between inclusive and when exclusive?

It seems that the exact meaning of between is very tied to its specific usage. What should I assume in a general situation about the inclusivity of between. Consider: "Pick a number between 1 and ...
1
vote
1answer
191 views

Position of adverbial phrase [duplicate]

Is there a difference in these two sentences, and if so, what is the difference? Immediately afterwards I remembered having met her. I remembered having met her immediately afterwards. I think ...