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

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-2
votes
2answers
111 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
309 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
311 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
174 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
394 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 ...
0
votes
2answers
226 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
224 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
776 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
176 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
706 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
3k 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
9k 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
243 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
630 views

Semicolon: Always required before conjunction if internal punctuation follows, even if no ambiguity?

Is the semicolon in the following sentence necessary? Is it preferable? To me, it seems that there would be no ambiguity if the semicolon were replaced with a comma, but the writer insists that a ...
0
votes
0answers
278 views

We got you surrounded. What use of GET is this? [duplicate]

I have heard a sentence "We got you surrounded", what would be difference between "We surrounded you"? I believe the first one implies that it has just been done, i.e. reaching certain condition, ...
1
vote
2answers
457 views

Settle you in vs Get you settled in [duplicate]

As GET has so many meanings, it is hard for me to distinct between them and understand the nuances. Are these sentences all correct? Would you understand the same thing by them? I will settle you ...
-1
votes
2answers
55 views

Can 'filtered' be ambiguous?

I'm working with algorithms that filter their input (that is, remove part of it), and I'm not sure this phrase is unambiguous: This function returns the filtered elements. Is it obvious that ...
1
vote
3answers
1k views

Noun-adjective-noun: Can a noun phrase have an adjective in the middle?

Can a noun phrase have an adjective in the middle as in the following examples? car new tires salad high-calorie dressing house external wall nitrogen fine droplets These examples ...
2
votes
2answers
360 views

Does 'which' refer to the noun immediately preceding it?

Is the 'which' in Proposition 25 suggests a better definition of m-reducibility than given in Definition 23, which is also the one typically given in texts ambiguous? It is a line from an ...
3
votes
2answers
19k views

Are the expressions: “You needn't” and “You don't need to” different in meaning? [duplicate]

While doing some research on a comment I had read on ELL I read the following excerpt from a website called e.grammar You needn't listen to him. (You don't have to listen to him.) x You don't ...
6
votes
1answer
273 views

'Remit' an antonym of itself?

Perhaps I don't fully understand the word, but it always confuses me. When talking about money: The money was remitted. Which means that the money was transmitted/transferred successfully. But ...
-1
votes
1answer
102 views

When he was 7, he killed his first enemy

I want to say that a person (Egill Skallagrímsson, just for the record) committed his first killing of an enemy at the age of seven. However, it seems to me that this phrase: When he was 7, he ...
5
votes
2answers
999 views

Why are the notes or protocol of a meeting referred to as its 'minutes'?

A minute is 60 seconds. Something 'minute' is small, minor, perhaps short. Now, what about the minutes of a meeting or a session? As in, its written protocol? Are they called that because: The ...
2
votes
1answer
153 views

What does a “visiting writer” mean?

From wiki page about Michael Crichton": In 1988, Crichton was a visiting writer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology What does exactly the term visiting writer mean? Does it mean he ...
2
votes
1answer
144 views

“Feeling well” adverb ambiguity

Am I just crazy, or is there some ambiguity in the phrase "feeling well"? Example: Billy has a genetic defect that causes him to lose sensation in his fingertips every few days, or so. "How are you ...
3
votes
3answers
169 views

Counting stops without ambiguity

A typical conversation on a bus: Alice: Have we reached our stop yet, Bob? Bob: No, Alice. Two more stops to go. Alice: Do you mean "two more stops, then ours" or "one more stop, then ...
-1
votes
2answers
168 views

Ambiguous “inline” enumerations

I am currently writing a thesis in computer science and have stumbled upon an interesting ambiguity that I would like to better understand. Consider the following sentence: The importance of this ...
-2
votes
2answers
81 views

“Only for A, B, and C”: Includes cases where not all are present? [closed]

After submitting the report, changes can be made only for the font size, margins, and line spacing. Does this sentence imply that changes can be made only if all three types of changes are ...
0
votes
3answers
3k views

'Oldest' for age vs. length of time

This discussion arose around the statement "PersonX was my oldest high-school friend" The intention was to refer to length of time known (roughly the opposite of 'most recent') as opposed to meaning ...
8
votes
2answers
425 views

Drink 7 to 10 days after opening?

Is this label telling the consumer that it is best to consume the drink 7 to 10 days after opening it? I know what they are getting at, but I feel like it should say "Best if consumed within 7 to ...
-1
votes
2answers
1k views

Why does “issue” have a negative connotation in the US? [closed]

Why does "issue" have a negative connotation in the US? I have used issue as a synonym of tema in Spanish.
2
votes
1answer
153 views

“My late friends” — they're not dead!

Context: We're discussing about how we used to get penalized in school for being late to classes, many years ago. I wanted to say: In my old school, it was hilarious to see my late friends get ...
0
votes
1answer
1k views

Objectivity vs. Objectivism vs. Objectiveness [closed]

What are some clear-cut distinctions between objectivity, objectivism, and objectiveness?
2
votes
1answer
684 views

“sallow complexion”

In Isaac Asimov's Foundation series, in several places he describes people having a "sallow complexion". According to Collins dictionary: Sallow (esp of human skin) of an unhealthy pale or ...
2
votes
5answers
540 views

“stop to do something” vs. “continue to do something”

A transcript of a recent speech by Barack Obama contains the following sentence: Boston police, firefighters, and first responders as well as the National Guard responded heroically, and continue ...
3
votes
2answers
287 views

Is “to fight with” ambiguous?

I've read about a Dutch volunteer, who died in Syria "fighting with the rebels". Obviously from the context you could understand, that he was fighting for the rebels, against the government troops. ...
6
votes
3answers
13k views

Why does “I am in your debt” mean the opposite of what it suggests?

I don't understand why if someone says "I am in your debt" it seems to mean the opposite of the literal meaning. The person saying this says that they are in the debt of the person the phrase is ...
1
vote
2answers
224 views

“My job is not to worry about those people” — what does “not” refer to?

In the famous leaked video, Mitt Romney says My job is not to worry about those people An equivalent sentence probably is It is not my job to worry about those people Some media in my home ...
2
votes
2answers
196 views

What is the term for this ambiguous sentence?

I apologize that I don't know how to search for this question--it may be a duplicate, or maybe I just should have learned it in English class! I'm a teacher, and in another StackExchange, I wrote the ...
1
vote
1answer
196 views

Is there a technical term for when verbs in a sentence appear as if they have been swapped around? [closed]

Is there a technical term for when verbs in a sentence appear as if they have been swapped around as in the example here? 'her fingers creased in gold [and] her body ringed in folds' In this ...
7
votes
4answers
4k views

Quintessential vs essential?

While quintessential means 'representing the most perfect or typical example of a quality or class' [OED], it defines essential as 'absolutely necessary; extremely important'. I have noticed frequent ...
2
votes
1answer
195 views

When a sentence contains both “not” and “or”, which one has priority?

I am changing a piece of text which current reads: Payment not deducted to also include the situation where payments are withheld. The suggested revision of text given to me is Payment not ...
-3
votes
1answer
244 views

Whats the meaning of “Outta” In a song of Metallica called “ain't my bit-ch” [closed]

((Dear Native English Speakers Please Help Me.)) Metallica is my favorite band and I love them but I have some serious problems in translating and understanding the meaning of the lyric entitled ...
1
vote
3answers
398 views

Is “have not worked here for a long time” ambiguous?

I have not worked here for a long time/for many years. Is it ambiguous? Which of the two below is the correct meaning? I have been working here, but only for a short period of time. I once ...
0
votes
2answers
158 views

Valid? “The river is flowing.”

What is the meaning of the "the river is flowing?" Is this valid usage? Websters, #2: River: A large quantity of a flowing substance The river is already a flow by definition. Can the river be ...
3
votes
1answer
395 views

Interpretation of the adjective “outstanding”

In my holidays I met a woman who is originally from Australia. She told me she lived in many places due to her husband's work and also traveled much around the world. Although she's already seen many ...
-1
votes
1answer
74 views

An ambiguous sentence from the music Dreamtale

The whole sentence is As the last ship sailed towards the distant horizon, I sat there watching on a rock. My mind slowly drifting away, forming into my...dreamtale. I can't figure out whether ...
0
votes
1answer
3k views

Do phrases such as “by tomorrow” or “by Thursday” include the day mentioned? [duplicate]

I wasn't sure how to research this without being able to explain what I mean. When someone says something like "I will have it done by tomorrow", does that phrase mean that they will have it done ...
2
votes
1answer
740 views

Justice as a title … where does it come from?

In the US supreme court judges, among others, are called "justice [name]". Where is this use rooted? Obviously the term comes from Latin "justitia" originally, but that means justice as in the the ...
1
vote
1answer
432 views

Present perfect or past simple? [duplicate]

I know the basic rules about using PP and PS (like specified time in the past etc.) but in some cases, it is not clear to me: I have finished painting. - present perfect, I just announce that. I ...