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

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1answer
312 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 ...
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0answers
336 views

What does 'next Monday' mean? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Which day does “next Tuesday” refer to? Meaning of “last/this/next Monday” Scenario: You get a phone call on Wednesday, saying "you have to report to X next ...
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0answers
689 views

A good example wanted of noun-adjective ambiguity [closed]

A well-known feature of the English language is that you can use nouns as adjectives: football player, relativity theory, car tyre, army chaplain, house keys, etc. etc. However, some nouns already ...
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6answers
248 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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3answers
133 views

Does inserting a comma change what is modified?

My question pertains to the usage of comma after a list of clauses of the form "X, Y, and Z (,) to/in order to <do something>" Example: Apply Equation 1, use Lemma 2, and exploit Theorem ...
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6answers
565 views

Can “the man from Earth” mean “caveman”? [closed]

There is a movie called "The Man from Earth" and someone told me that the title is referring to "caveman" because "Earth" meant "cave". I doubt that. I can't find any dictionary supporting that ...
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3answers
836 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 ...
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4answers
708 views

“Everything is not…”

I keep hearing people say everything is not… which frustrating because it is ambiguous. It could mean either Nothing is… (for the set of all things, no thing is…) or Not everything is… (for ...
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2answers
96 views

Who does “who” apply to in this example?

His governors, some of them incompetent and tactless, quarrelled bitterly with the people, who were constantly demanding greater political control. In this sentence, who are demanding greater ...
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2answers
134 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 ...
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3answers
77 views

December 15th to December 16th

In general, if I say: From December 15th to December 16th Would you expect the range to be from 12/15 00:00 to 12/16 23:59 or would you expect it to be from 12/15 00:00 to 12/15 23:59?
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3answers
340 views

Is “increment” perfectly synonymous with “increase”? [closed]

My advisor replaced all the occurrences of "increment" with "increase" in one of my papers. Is it true that "increment" can always be replaced with "increase"? If not, please show me some examples.
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79 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
80 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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2answers
2k 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 ...
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2answers
44 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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1answer
39 views

Why does i.e mean that is?

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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2answers
59 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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2answers
117 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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1answer
73 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: ...
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1answer
311 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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3answers
196 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 ...
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2answers
686 views

Can “myself” stand for both “me” and “I” in “my mother and I/me”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When is it correct to use “yourself” and “myself” (versus “you” and “me”)? In one of my older questions I asked for an ...
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2answers
533 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 ...
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2answers
3k views

Are “that's it” and “that's all” interchangeable?

Are "that's it" and "that's all" interchangeable? Is there any specific case where I should use one instead of the other?
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3answers
67 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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1answer
67 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
94 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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1answer
56 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 ...
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2answers
140 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 ...
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1answer
524 views

Objectivity vs. Objectivism vs. Objectiveness [closed]

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

What is the meaning of “at its discretion”?

What does "at its discretion" mean in the following sentence? Dual Gadgets undertakes, at its discretion and cost, to repair or replace defective equipment covered by warranty in 3.b., provided ...
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1answer
81 views

Is on/before 15 July better than by 15 July if I want to be precise and unambiguous? Which is the more common form?

When the last day of registration is, let's say, 15 July, we currently say "please confirm your registration before 16 July" but students often send their confirmation on 16 July, rather than 15. I ...
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1answer
936 views

Is “in [some period]” different from “within [some period]”?

Q1: "I'll finish this job within 5 days" definitely means the job is expected to cost 5 days or less. However, does "I'll finish this job in 5 days" mean exactly the same? Q2: Can we say, "I'll ...
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1answer
70 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
59 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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1answer
32 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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1answer
51 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
79 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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1answer
66 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?
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1answer
60 views

Meaning of the word “FOR” used at the beginning of a sentence

I have encountered the word "for" many times. But, even if I use the dictionary, I can not understand the meaning of this word used at the beginning of a sentence. Here is an example: It would be an ...
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1answer
113 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 ...
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1answer
218 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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1answer
112 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?
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1answer
88 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.
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2answers
141 views

Pre-clause, Post-clause

I have two possible sentences of the some situation and I am confused: Realizing he did not belong there, he left the meeting early. He left the meeting early, realizing he did not belong ...
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2answers
961 views

“Miami installed the first ATM for rollerbladers”

This is Snapple Real Fact #851. Is this sentence ambiguous between They installed the first ATM specifically for rollerbladers, and They installed the very first ATM, coincidentally for ...
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1answer
24 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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19 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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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 ...