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

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Formatting two adjacent footnote indicators in the body of the footnoted text

I've run into an issue using Microsoft Word 2013. In the following example, there is no way to know whether or not there exists one reference to footnote 12, or two references to footnotes 1 and 2: ...
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4answers
722 views

What's the difference between “title” and “name”?

I'm not sure when it's appropriate to use word "name", and when to use word "title". For example, "file name" feels right, "file title" doesn't; "document name" and "document title" seem ...
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4answers
97 views

Regions and reasons for the usage of “sleep” as “go to sleep”

This question is very closely linked to this english.SE question, which discusses the usage of "sleep" as a verb meaning "go to sleep" and inspired by this ell.SE question, in which the accepted ...
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1answer
62 views

What to use : “that” or “who”? [duplicate]

Consider this sentence : "I was going down the hill and on my step down I saw a guy who appeared to be disguised". "I was going down the hill and on my step down I saw a guy that appeared to be ...
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2answers
245 views

What is opposite of “Love”? [closed]

In a argument with my friend who lost her love, I came across her experience of life and what she said is : Opposite of love is NOT Hate. why, Because in love people have feeling and think about ...
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3answers
591 views

Does “native Japanese” indicate Japanese people or indigenous people in Japan?

I want to simply indicate that I was born and raised in Japan. I think I can say "I am a native Japanese", but when I google the expression, the results include information about indigenous people in ...
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1answer
155 views

Shakespeare's “slow as the elephant”

I am reading Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida, in Act 1 Scene 2 Alexander gives the following portrait of Ajax: "[...] he is as valiant as the lion, churlish as the bear, slow as the elephant; ...
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8answers
624 views

How to rephrase “Deliberate failure”?

I have a document that I'm drafting that, at the moment, has a sentence that reads something like: Remove X from all company computers. Deliberate failure to do so constitutes grounds for ...
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5answers
1k views

3 meter square area vs 3 square meter area

A. 3 meter square area B. 3 square meter area I’m wondering what the easiest way is to clearly express the difference between A and B above. In A, one side is 3 (meters). In B, one side is ...
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3answers
224 views

More confusion with relative pronoun ambiguity

What does the relative pronoun refer to in this sentence? It was probably on the darker/smoother side of things, compared to, say, the Sony ZX-1, which I prefer. To me, his preference isn’t ...
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2answers
108 views

Is “Can you carry this book?” acceptable? [closed]

Is it grammatically correct to say: Can you carry this book? I said this to a friend and this person commented that I need to learn grammar. To me the statement seems grammatically correct and ...
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3answers
2k views

Is “out” a preposition or an adverb in these sentences?

Is out a preposition or an adverb in these sentences? "We need to get the hell out of this place." "We need to get out and leave this place."
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1answer
327 views

Is the glass half filled with water or half empty? [closed]

If someone asks me this, is there some proper answer according to English grammar? If there is, what is it? If not, shouldn't there be one? And which one? P.S. I am not asking this for fun. This ...
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0answers
197 views

Is language inherently circular? [closed]

I looked up "Hallelujah" in etymonline.com today, and the result, as often happens with etymological research, ended in following a rabbit warren of possibilities. Take the word "Hallelujah" for ...
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1answer
55 views

Ambiguity in the statement of an Indian politician.

Derek O' Brien is celebrity turned politician in India. Recently in a TV debate on a National TV channel he was recorded saying that he was a Christian first, before that an Indian. (Watch the video ...
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1answer
90 views

Figuring out what's wrong with the sentence

I took a quiz given in the BBC magazine. it had the following sentence. The Queen arrived at the castle with the King by her side, in a dress adorned with hand-sewn embroidered dragons. please ...
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5answers
144 views

“Find ten apples and oranges” Do I find 10 or 20?

If I read the sentence Find ten apples and oranges. Do I need to find ten or twenty pieces of fruit?
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4answers
163 views

How do I pluralize the coffee drink “shot in the dark”?

For those that do not know, there is a coffee drink that it sometimes called a shot in the dark. It consists of an espresso shot poured in a regular cup of Joe. Suppose that I would like to order two ...
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3answers
146 views

When an author lets you decide what happened?

Is there a word to describe when an Author doesn't fully explain a particular scenario, and leaves it rather ambiguous, so that the reader may decide what happened? SPOILERS for Mockingjay and Life ...
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1answer
139 views

Is it accurate/correct/proper to call an abusive dictator a megalomaniac?

The definition of megalomania indicates that it is the delusion of power, wealth, greatness, importance, etc. So when talking about malicious dictators, especially those known for mass murder of ...
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7answers
573 views

A person who goes to gymnastics school — a 'student' or a 'pupil?'

I am trying to find an exact answer of this question: Is a person who goes to gymnastics school a 'student' or a 'pupil?'
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1answer
470 views

“Life is short. Work somewhere awesome.” Is it ambiguous?

At a company some HR person put a label on the wall with a slogan: "Life is short Work somewhere awesome " /+ Name of the company The question is: May this label sound conversational? Like I ...
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1answer
70 views

meaning of edge in this sentence

belligerent speeches by leaders of the Soviet Union and the United States throughout the Cold War were keeping the world on edge.
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1answer
55 views

When distinguishing 'in which' and 'which' is ambiguous

I'm a Korean high school student (who really likes reading English novels), and I'm curious regarding the usage of 'in which' and 'which' in a sentence. Which one do I have to use in the following ...
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3answers
837 views

“Small Latin and Less Greek”

About a third of the way through his poem "To the Memory of My Beloved the Author, Mr. William Shakespeare and What He Hath Left Us," Ben Jonson writes: And though thou hadst small Latin and less ...
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2answers
519 views

What does “feeling a little precious” mean? [duplicate]

I ran across this phrase in a video made by an Australian walking the Camino de Santiago. He describes a horrible sleep-deprived night and suffering from food poisoning, and states that he's feeling a ...
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1answer
180 views

Antedecent of “naked” in “I would like to paint a picture of you naked”

You’re such a pretty person, I would like to paint a picture of you naked. Does this mean "you’ll undress while I get my brushes", or does it mean "strike a pose while I take my clothes off"?
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1answer
630 views

Does saying 'then' after 'sorry' imply reluctance?

A did something wrong but didn't realize it. B explained to A why what (s)he did was wrong. Then A said: "Sorry then". Is A really sorry? Literally, "sorry then" (in my head) means in light of the ...
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3answers
233 views

Difference between “college” and “university”

I have seen the words college and university sometimes mixed in the same article. But there are lots of sources where only one is used. I've looked up them in various dictionaries, but couldn't figure ...
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2answers
127 views

Ambiguous relative clause

In the following expression, whom does 'who' refer to? The friends of the participants or the participants themselves? "The friends of the participants who were told to order soft drinks" This was ...
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3answers
648 views

Is the verb “hustle” used mostly positively or negatively these days?

I am confused about the uses of the word hustle. According to the dictionary, to hustle means a lot of negative things, like: force (someone) to move hurriedly or unceremoniously in a specified ...
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2answers
53 views

Disambiguating fictitiousness

I think that confronted with the statement: The claim is fictitious. or even The claim is made up. most people would interpret it to mean, "The claim was actually made, but its content is ...
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2answers
109 views

Specific use of “where”

Do these two sentences convey the same meaning? What is more I detailed the difficulty that arises in such an investigation where it is one person's word against another. What is more I ...
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2answers
138 views

Why does i.e mean that is? [closed]

I learned that i.e means : that is or in other words but how does this make sense? shouldn't it be: t.i in this case?
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3answers
158 views

“Half” for unequal divisions

A topic came up today concerning the usage of the word "half". I was describing a separation of labour into two obviously unequal groups. A colleague corrected me, saying that the word "half" ...
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3answers
166 views

What does “be proactively available to help others” mean?

Actively going to others to provide help even if they don't need it? Being available actively to help others whenever they need it? Or something else?
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2answers
122 views

Using source as a verb to mean “to provide a citation”

Recently on the meta for English.se, I used the following sentence: Personally, I think we should source answers if possible, but this is also sensitive to the level of the asker. My question ...
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1answer
45 views

Task definition and its instances

I have a system which allows to set tasks for users. Each task has to be completed everyday and has a recurring due time. To keep the history of completions/failures, there is another entity: a task ...
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2answers
137 views

How do I say “to record” meaning “to audio and video record” (in contrast to “to audio record”)?

The context here is "You should record your speech". I mean you should record both your audio (the speaking) as well as the visual (gesticulation, etc.), but the context of this sentence strongly ...
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2answers
512 views

SAT Writing ambiguous pronoun error?

Can anyone please explain why this sentence is incorrect? When Russell Wallace and Darwin independently proposed similar theories, Darwin had already accumulated extensive evidence with which ...
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1answer
249 views

The problem with the word “quite” [duplicate]

"Quite" is probably the most ambiguous word in the English language. Merriam-Webster defines it three ways: 1: completely, wholly, totally (quite mistaken) 2: to an extreme : positively (quite ...
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1answer
121 views

Can “did not” be used instead of “should not”?

I'm trying to read "Harry Potter and Methods of Rationality" (Chapter 25), and I'm puzzled with the following phrase: And furthermore, Harry said, his voice emphatic and his right hand thumping ...
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4answers
6k views

“Two yellow spots on its wings” vs “a yellow spot on both wings”

The bird has two yellow spots on its wings. versus The bird has a yellow spot on both wings. Do they mean the same? Which one describes more accurately the yellow spots of the following bird? ...
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3answers
109 views

“Students avoid boring professors” is ambiguity?

Wondering how “Students avoid boring professors” is ambiguity? I know there is one meaning of this sentence, "stay away from". Is there any other possible meanings?
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1answer
97 views

What does “This is just mean” mean? [closed]

Generally, I get to see that such sentences are used to express disgust or anger and likewise feelings. But what is the actual meaning? I am not sure about the actual spelling of the word also. ...
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3answers
702 views

Meaning of the full title of Darwin's “On the origin of species”

The full title of Darwin's work "On the origin of species" is: "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life". My ...
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1answer
446 views

Do the words 'gift' and 'present' have the same meaning? [closed]

As the question says, do these two words have the same meaning?
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2answers
309 views

Use of Like/Unlike (Double negative)

What is the correct way? Birds are not mammals like cats. Birds are not mammals, like cats. Birds are not mammals, unlike cats. *Just in case, reminder: Cats are mammals. Birds are not mammals.
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1answer
139 views

“Favour” or “favor” [duplicate]

Are the terms favour and favor interchangeable ? Or is there a slight difference perhaps? This is nitpicking but just curious. http://www.merriam-webster.com/info/spelling-reform.htm there are ...
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1answer
110 views

Difference between chastise and lambaste?

Is there a difference between chastise and lambaste? When should one use chastise and when should one use lambaste?