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

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995 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 ...
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2answers
125 views

Is the title ambiguous?

I am writing a paper for a conference, and I am a bit worried about correctness of the title that I chose. The title is "Energy Functions of X and their Existence Conditions" Where X is long ...
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2answers
321 views

What does “Shall be” mean? [closed]

What does Shall be mean? I find it in different context, sometimes it seems to me that is means is or Will be and more likely Must be, but sometimes I can't figure it out, so if it means Must be, what ...
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1answer
97 views

“Elves and Men, the Firstborn and the Followers”

This is a quote from Silmarillion, but I really do not know if there are two meanings or one. Because on my language this "Followers" can means that come after the Firstborn or those who likes ...
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2answers
154 views

Multiple Instances of Same Noun: Does the use of “that” distinguish between them?

Consider the following sentence taken from some co-operative housing rules: "Any costs of repairing a suite are the responsibility of the owner of a suite, which could be a different suite from ...
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1answer
119 views

What is the meaning of “He was a myth made man”?

I can't understand the meaning. Is it "He was a mythical person" or "He was a myth that became a man"?
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2answers
19k views

What does “Let me know if the problem persists” exactly mean? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When are “if” and “whether” equivalent? Which one is the correct meaning of "Let me know if the problem persists."? Or is it ambiguous? If the ...
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3answers
87 views

Ambiguous pronouns

I have a statement like The performance of the proposed scheme, and its dependence on … Here, ‘it’ can refer to either the performance of the scheme, or the scheme itself. I changed the ...
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1answer
76 views

What exactly does “bear witness” mean? [closed]

The Oxford English Dictionary defines "bear witness" as 1- Testify to. 2- State or show one’s belief in. Are both these definitions correct? I mean for instance, you don't bear witness or become a ...
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4answers
167 views

What is the meaning of “poetry” ? And how far it is different from “Poem”? [closed]

In a concert I heard saying Poetry is : "words carrying the meaning little concealed and little exposed." It may sound convincing but thats not word to word meaning neither complete. It is just a ...
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2answers
98 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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1answer
147 views

Parenthetical statement that expresses a condition

I am studying a book and one of the lines (which was written in the 30's) is, We had admitted that we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable. My question is ...
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1answer
916 views

Guidelines for interpretation of “all but a few”

For a clause of the type [all but a few X] [Y], there seem to be two possible interpretations. The first one is "Y is the case for all things/people/places, except for a few X," as in the following ...
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4answers
101 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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1answer
57 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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1answer
201 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 ...
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2answers
129 views

Antedecent of “its” in “the dog attacked the cat and its friends” [duplicate]

The dog attacked the cat and its friends. Does the sentence imply that the dog attacked the cat and the cat's friends or that it attacked the cat and the dog's friends? How would one properly ...
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1answer
72 views

deep roll of blue at the tops

I want some help with my question about the meaning of “deep roll of blue at the tops”: "The men were dressed in blue, of the same shade as their hats, and wore well-polished boots with a deep ...
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1answer
312 views

Meaning of “Apply at 4–6 weekly intervals”

I purchased some fungicide. The instructions on the back of the bottle say "Apply at 4–6 weekly intervals." Does that mean it should be applied 4–6 times a week? Or every 4–6 weeks?
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3answers
3k views

Meaning of “saved my sanity” [closed]

What is the meaning of the phrase saved my sanity? I attempted another sip and winced. He smiled and poured more water in my drink to dilute it. It ruined the scotch but saved my sanity. The ...
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3answers
298 views

additional local and domestic long distance minutes are $0.10 per minute [closed]

All airtime is billed by the second after the first minute, additional local and domestic long distance minutes are $0.10 per minute. My phone company and I are arguing over the use of the word ...
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2answers
1k views

“adjective noun noun”: which noun does the adjective refer to (“electrical system operators”) [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How does the hyphen change the meaning in expressions like “high performance” and “high-performance”? Is there a grammar rule behind the hyphen in the phrase 'one-act play'? ...
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3answers
81 views

If X was not part Y, I'd like it - meaning

I'm trying to fill out a survey that asks me about features that should or should not be included in a smartphone app. The actual questions are confidential, but it's in the style of a sentence like ...
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2answers
74 views

Stay/keep abreast of

Somewhere in my essay it goes as follows: There is a shared assumption that English is estranging people from their own language, inclining them to subordinate it to English. Even so commonly ...
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2answers
97 views

Ambiguity in Negation: “John did not come because of the rain”

John did not come because of the rain. This sentence seems to allow the following two completely different interpretations. John did not come. And the reason was the rain. John came. But the ...
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1answer
72 views

Using the pronoun 'one' twice in a sentence for the same person

I often read sentences that use the pronoun 'one' twice to refer to the same hypothetical person, but I've always felt reluctant in using it myself. Here's an example: One's experiences shape ...
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1answer
143 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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2answers
217 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?
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2answers
352 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 ...
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2answers
209 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 ...
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3answers
351 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 ...
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1answer
2k views

“much too [something]” vs “too much [something]”

Which are the differences in meaning and usage between the two expressions "much too [something]" and the most common "too much [something]"? Are they completely interchangeable? i.e.: "much too ...
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1answer
259 views

What is the average number of meanings for a word in English?

Many words have multiple meanings. Sometimes they are related (like "theory" as opposed to "practice", versus "theory" as in "scientific theory"), but sometimes they’re completely different (like ...
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1answer
558 views

Word-order and meaning - which is correct for this notice? [closed]

I'm creating some signs for the office car park, and one of these signs is to control access. What I'm trying to get it to indicate is that cars aren't permitted between 10 am and 4pm except for ...
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1answer
126 views

Is there a word or phrase to describe ambiguous sarcasm?

To be specific, this statement refers to a phrase in which the writer/speaker's intention of being sarcastic is not disclosed to the reader/listener (deliberately or accidentally). The effect strongly ...
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2answers
94 views

Question on a job application form

I'm helping a friend fill out a job application where a strange question appears: Do you seldom let your responsibilities interfere with having fun? (Y) (N) Am I crazy, or is this question ...
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1answer
50 views

What is the meaning of lemniscate related with clothing? [closed]

Here is lemniscate is used as a part or feature of clothing. What doses it mean ? TIA
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2answers
97 views

Turn “in to” or “into” a lonely lane?

I have a sentence I'm writing where I describe making a turn, as I run, into an empty alleyway. Here is how I would like to say it: I turn into a lonely lane... The problem I find is that it ...
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1answer
51 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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2answers
88 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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1answer
312 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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1answer
234 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 ...
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1answer
275 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 ...
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1answer
169 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 ...
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1answer
106 views

For the title alone

Someone has voted for one of my questions with this comment: +1 for the title alone. Which of these two possible meanings is the most correct: The title itself is so nice that I would have ...
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2answers
1k views

How to interpret this kind of sentence?

I have a question related to an example sentence below. I always have slight doubt in interpreting sentences which have this kind of clauses being connected. Consider this sentence: The book ...
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1answer
519 views

Is this sentence ambiguous?

I was reading my apartment lease recently, and I came across this sentence in the rent section: "Lessee will pay a penalty of $16.00 for rent that is unpaid before the 6th of the month." The ...
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0answers
55 views

Can “yell 'word' for passcode” be considered a wordplay? [closed]

Consider the following sentence: Yell "word" for passcode. Obviously it instructs one to yell "word" in order to get a passcode. To me it looks like the sentence could be read as a wordplay ...
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2answers
55 views

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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1answer
411 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 ...