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17
votes
6answers
54k views

“Call me through/at/on this number”

What is the difference between the following when referring to telephone calls? Please call me on this number. You can reach me on this number. Please call me at this number. You can reach ...
13
votes
5answers
903 views

What does a door do on its hinge?

In general sense of the language we would say that a door "opens" or "closes". But I am looking for a one-word answer(preferably) that would indicate its motion around the hinge. Does it swivel, ...
12
votes
3answers
360 views

Extend or go beyond a promise

Can one fulfill “beyond” a promise? Is it possible to say “extending the fulfillment of a promise”? I am trying to express that I hope I fulfilled a promise and then some. This is for the ...
11
votes
4answers
77k views

What is the difference between “sardonic” and “sarcastic”?

Basically, sardonic and sarcastic both stand for mocking gestures, but what is the difference in their contextual use? Are there any other words that represent a similar gesture?
11
votes
3answers
340 views

Make/take a photograph?

In English we say "take a photograph" whereas in some other languages one would say "make a photograph". The French say "take" even though they "make" far more often than we do in English, and ...
10
votes
3answers
4k views

“Quick question” vs. “short question”

Which one would you prefer: "quick question" or "short question" for a question that you know is simple and will only take a moment to answer? Or maybe "simple question"? The problem I have with ...
8
votes
5answers
37k views

“Centered on” or “centered around”

I have often heard presenters talking about something centered around another thing, but it seems a bit illogical and hence improper to talk like this. Am I right about this?
8
votes
1answer
282 views

Use of “medicine students”

Recently I used the term medicine students to mean students of medicine. This was corrected to medical students. I googled and found that the term I chose is not really used. However I still hear ...
7
votes
5answers
10k views

When to use words quite, rather, pretty, fairly etc

Is there any logic to this or just decision? I would use the following combinations: quite amazing rather large pretty good I would not use the following combinations: pretty amazing quite large ...
7
votes
4answers
641 views

How can I learn to get collocations right?

I read an article about collocation which includes an example: We can say highly sophisticated, and we can say extremely happy. highly happy and extremely sophisticated would be wrong. How can I ...
6
votes
12answers
1k views

What vivid verb should I use when someone “turns into” a zombie?

In conversation, when someone says they appreciate my brain, I need an effective comeback. I was going to say, "I hope that you are not turning into a zombie with your love for my brain." But I feel ...
6
votes
3answers
557 views

“desert island” versus “deserted island”

What is the difference between "a desert island" and "a deserted island"? Are they synonyms?
6
votes
7answers
31k views

Is there a difference between “vice”, “deputy”, “associate”, and “assistant” as descriptive job titles?

When vice, deputy, associate, or assistant is collocated with a job title, such as vice manager, deputy manager, associate manager, assistant manager, I wonder how to rank or differentiate their ...
5
votes
4answers
5k views

“Take a degree” or “do a degree”

In university I learned that we say to do a degree in X but I saw many other sources where it says to take a degree in X. Which is correct? Is there a regional difference?
5
votes
4answers
200 views

Does a laser “etch” things, or does it “engrave” them?

Which (if any) of these adjectives would you use for describing a surface that has been cut using a laser beam: a laser-etched surface a laser-engraved surface a laser-(something else) surface a ...
4
votes
3answers
397 views

Construction of to cheat

I am not a native speaker and I would like to write a sentence using the verb "to cheat on". The situation I want to describe is that someone (Mr X) has lied to someone else (Mr Y) convincing Mr Y to ...
4
votes
2answers
401 views

What does this sentence mean by “my cold came out of remission”?

What does the part "my cold came out of remission" mean in the following sentence? It seems that my cold came out of remission… I'll work from home today and hopefully kick it before Monday.
4
votes
4answers
2k views

Can you say “raise an animal”?

It was said as a way to comfort someone who had just broken up with her boyfriend, and someone said something like "go raise a dog". I know it's okay to say raise an animal; I just feel so weird ...
4
votes
2answers
681 views

Is “sound approach” an accepted phrase?

English is not my first language, and in my language (Bosnian) we write just as we speak ; so from time to time, I encounter phrases which I know I have heard before, but am not sure if I am writing ...
4
votes
3answers
4k views

“Elder brother” or “older brother”?

I've read both forms in newspapers and online news: elder brother and older brother. What's the difference between them? When should I use which?
3
votes
2answers
402 views

“High aspirations” vs. “large aspirations”

When you intend to say someone has a strong desire to achieve something high or great, is it proper to say they have "high aspirations"? Or would it be "large aspirations", or something else?
3
votes
2answers
5k views

“In the market” or “on the market”

I am trying to help a friend of mine proofreading an English email and she has a preposition there that I am not completely certain is correct. The original sentence was this: [Name of the ...
3
votes
1answer
65 views

switch genders or gender?

Recently I read an article on Wired.com "Apple Hires Hacker Who Helped Save Windows From Security Hell", http://www.wired.com/wiredenterprise/2012/12/apple-hires-hacker/ Here is a sentence I'm kind ...
3
votes
2answers
7k views

“No point in” vs. “no point of” vs. “no point to”

Point in, point of, point to. (Point in the sense of "purpose".) What are the differences among these — in meaning? in usage (each is used in certain constructions or with certain ...
3
votes
3answers
49 views

What preposition do we use with the adjective 'telling' when it means 'revealing'?

Example I: "How telling this is [of/about] the way international students continue to be perceived by their American peers on U.S. campuses?" Example II: "Public opinion is telling ...
3
votes
3answers
79 views

“Build a PC”, “assemble a PC”, or something else?

When you have all the parts of a PC and you need to connect them into a working PC, which is the appropriate verb to describe this action: build, assemble or something else?
3
votes
4answers
148 views

“Enter a market” vs. “break into a market”

Could you please shed light on the difference, if any, between "enter" vs. "break into" a market? Are they synonyms and interchangeable, or does the latter of the two imply more force?
3
votes
1answer
233 views

Is “with respect to” wrong?

My English professor suggested yesterday that the expression "with respect to", despite being frequently used is simply wrong. He said that one should rather use "in respect of", which in turn is not ...
3
votes
1answer
141 views

Can something “hold a property”

In academic writing, it is common to refer to or prove properties about the main object of an article. If I prove a property for (some object), I know I can use the phrase: Property X holds for ...
3
votes
3answers
6k views

“Gain/acquire/gather/get experience”

According to my Longman dictionary, gain experience and get experience seem to mean the same: gain/get experience: The programme enables pupils to gain some experience of the world of work. But ...
2
votes
4answers
5k views

”Demand in/on/for something”

I am not sure whether to use in, on, or for after the word demand in the following sentence: The continuing demand on high-quality software that is reusable and easy to maintain and modify after ...
2
votes
4answers
100 views

What do you do to a gap?

I failed to find a way to reconcile the gap between reality and my ideal. I tried two expressions, 'bring down the gap' and 'overcome the gap', but I realized that the gap cannot be brought ...
2
votes
3answers
350 views

What is the correct verb for 'driving' a ferry?

The captain of a ferry appears to steer or drive it. What is the correct verb for this?
2
votes
4answers
2k views

“Fall term”, “autumn semester”, “autumn term” or “fall semester”?

Please clarify which is UK English, American English, and where and when to use which: Fall term (American English?) Autumn semester (UK English?) Autumn term (wrong?) Fall semester (wrong?)
2
votes
3answers
463 views

“Excel at something” vs. “excel in something”

I've come across a question while writing an exam Roger really excelled ___ sports A) at B) on C) in D) for My first thought was 'in', later I remembered using 'at' also. I've ...
2
votes
3answers
232 views

“Broad surface” or “large surface” [closed]

When comparing the total surface area of (geometrical) bodies, can I describe it as "large surface" (or "largest") or, as an editor suggested, do I have to use "broad surface"? Edit: Example ...
2
votes
2answers
6k views

Is it “expert in” or “expert on”?

When would you use "expert in" and when would you use "expert on"? A quick google search yields about the same for both, but I have a feeling "expert in" can occur in sentences somehow with a ...
2
votes
3answers
242 views

Do you “hit” or “press” a button?

I am currently writing an user manual for a software tool, providing step-by-step usage instructions. I am aware that pressing a button is a perfectly fine expression. However, I'm trying to find ...
2
votes
1answer
197 views

“Imitation jewelry” or “costume jewelry”

I've looked up the translation of the word bisutería in Spanish and it translated to imitation jewelry or costume jewelry. Which of the two is mostly used in British English?
2
votes
2answers
130 views

What is the difference between the adjectives/adverbs “broad” and “wide”? the nouns “breadth” and “width”? [duplicate]

Broad and wide are near synonyms but only near, since "a broad smile" is a more common collocation than "a wide smile", and you can say "eyes wide open" but not "eyes broad open". Breadth and width ...
2
votes
1answer
142 views

“Slit one's wrists” vs. “cut one's wrists” [closed]

Which one is used more often? You can cut your leg, hand etc. but do you slit or cut your wrists? Is the correct word related to the method of action that causes wrists to bleed?
2
votes
2answers
334 views

Where did the expression “achievement unlocked” come from?

Why achievement is unlocked? Achievement is not a lock, door or safe. You don't get anything after unlocking. I have an assumption that it came from gaming history, word "unlocked" just transferred ...
2
votes
2answers
2k views

“Starting with” vs. “starting from”

I would like to ask about the difference between the two phrases starting with and starting from. Take the following two sentences for example: Please give me all the names starting with A. ...
2
votes
2answers
112 views

Can I bother someone “for” something?

If I want someone (in this case, a Professor) to do something for me that they don't need to do (in this case, a second opinion on another Professor's paper), can I ask whether I can "bother them for ...
2
votes
1answer
84 views

“Take on responsibility” vs. “take up responsibilty”

I now have to take _ additional responsibility. Are both on and up grammatically correct? Is there a difference in meaning? When to use which one?
2
votes
1answer
50 views

“To consolidate cost”

Is it correct to use the expression "consolidate cost" when you add cost figures in a specific period of time? The context is a description of what a piece of code is doing: consolidate cost over ...
2
votes
2answers
195 views

“Brunette” vs. “brown” and “blonde” vs. “yellow”

Why is that we never use these terms interchangeably? I.e. one wouldn't say "I've painted my walls a deep brunette". Why is it that "brunette" and "blonde" are used exclusively in reference to hair ...
2
votes
2answers
799 views

“The later part of the 20th century” vs. “the latter part of the 20th century”

For the sentence fragment: "...during the later part of the 20th century" using "latter" sounds better to me: "...during the latter part of the 20th century" But most websites I find have ...
1
vote
2answers
121 views

What is a better antonym pair than “upmost” vs. “deepest” for blood vessels?

I’m thinking about the opposite ends of a blood vessel, so perhaps the “upmost” blood vessels and “deepest” blood vessels. My problem is that I like neither word quoted in the previous sentence. ...
1
vote
7answers
279 views

Proper verb to use with “test”

Assume that somebody has created a test/quiz like this one. Has he developed the test? put it together? wrote it? something else? What verb would you use?