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64
votes
11answers
15k views

Which is correct: “could care less” or “couldn't care less”?

What's the deal with the phrase "could care less"? Whilst growing up, I've always known people (parents etc) to use the phrase "couldn't care less", but I've also come across people who use the ...
38
votes
11answers
5k views

Is the usage of 'personally' in 'I personally don't like something' redundant?

What is the difference between the following? I personally don't like wax museums. I don't like wax museums. The adverb personally does not seem to emphasize anything here. Is it ...
26
votes
7answers
2k views

What makes “like” and “so” popular?

So, I was like, why does everyone say like and so in every sentence? Where did this trend come from, like, what started it, and is it actually grammatically correct to like, insert like into our ...
16
votes
4answers
1k views

Greeting: “Cold enough for you?”

This morning at −32°C/−26°F whilst collecting firewood outside my house, I called to my neighbour (brushing snow off his idling truck): "Cold enough for you?" To which he replied with a nod. Later ...
15
votes
5answers
4k views

How should I address a professor in the US?

I am always puzzled about how students address a professor in America. Perhaps "Professor + Last name" is the most formal way to do. Here are my questions: What if the last name of a professor is ...
14
votes
6answers
8k views

When is it appropriate to use “Yeah” and “Yep” as variants of the word “Yes”?

As a learner of English I know that yes is a standard variant and other two are informal, spoken words. I know nothing more about it, and try always use the yes variant, just not to sound ...
13
votes
4answers
859 views

What are exchanges like “How are you,” “I'm fine,” and “See you later” called?

Some verbal/written exchanges convey almost no meaning but are part of the protocol of conversation. For example, somebody greets you with "How are you?" and they're not usually not listening for ...
12
votes
2answers
3k views

When is it OK to use OK?

I often use "OK" in business and personal emails and phone conversations. But I often feel uncertain if it is appropriate to use it in every type of context. Please tell how universally I can use ...
11
votes
7answers
3k views

How do you decide which phrase to use when asking people to repeat what they said?

There are many different ways to ask people to repeat what they have just said. For example: Huh? What? Sorry? Pardon? What's that? Say that again, please I beg your pardon? I've ordered them ...
9
votes
6answers
17k views

Is the response “I am fine, thank you. And you?” outdated?

This is what I learned from the middle school English class 10 years ago as the correct way to respond to "How are you?". The textbook was co-published by Longman, I suppose it was British English. ...
8
votes
7answers
10k views

How often do people say “gotta”, “wanna” or “gonna” in English speaking countries?

I learned these three words from Collins Cobuild Advanced Learner's English Dictionary. got|ta /g'ɒtə/ Gotta is used in written English to represent the words 'got to' when they are ...
8
votes
5answers
483 views

Is there a word for “umming”?

Is there a word for saying "um" or "uh", etc, during speaking? Or a word for "um" and "uh", etc?
8
votes
2answers
33k views

Is “nice to meet you” an appropriate online salutation?

When one makes a new acquaintance with somebody in person, you may say "it was nice to meet you", e.g. when you leave. What if you make a new acquaintance over the internet, what do you say when you ...
8
votes
2answers
3k views

“Also” and “as well” for conversational context

"Also" and "as well" seem to be quite similar in meaning, but I'd like to know shades in its meaning and usage, especially for everyday conversational language. What one will sound more natural and ...
7
votes
9answers
4k views

Is it redundant to append “bye” to “speak to you later”?

Are the closing greetings "see you later", "talk to you later", and the like sufficient to end a conversation (especially a phone conversation) or must they be succeeded by "bye" or another word of ...
7
votes
4answers
6k views

Proper answer to “excuse me”

What is a proper reply for excuse me? Like for thank you, you can say no problem or welcome. I don't know what a proper reply for excuse me would be.
7
votes
3answers
162 views

“Well” as an introduction to an argument

Say a child says: I want some ice cream! The parent's response is: Well, you can't have ice cream right now, we need to have dinner first. Why is the word "well" used as a conversational ...
7
votes
2answers
557 views

Is Wayne's World's (NOT) a modern invention?

Older users of this site may recall the 'Bill & Ted' 'Wayne's World' series of movies of the early 1990s. They were mindless but fairly amusing and their eponymous characters spoke in a unique ...
6
votes
11answers
32k views

Is there a more modern way to say “it's a pity”?

Is it okay nowadays to use the phrase "it's a pity" in the everyday conversation in the contexts like in following example: "Please how do I get to airport?" "It's a pity, I don't know." If ...
6
votes
5answers
2k views

Are “Conditional apology” and “poisoned apology”, rude?

I've heard I'm sorry your frog is dead. I'm sorry if your frog's death causes you pain. I'm sorry my taunting you about your frog's death caused you pain. You should seek therapy. Do the ...
6
votes
2answers
9k views

How do I ask for advice politely?

I came across the following phrase: I was wondering if you might be able to give me some advice. Is it a natural construction for a conversational context? Can I use the following instead in ...
5
votes
3answers
522 views

Ironic phrase like Russian’s “no, didn’t hear”

Here’s a bit of dialogue which I literally translated from Russian: ― You should get a girlfriend! ― Girlfriend? Didn’t hear. . . . The idea of the answer is to self-ironically point out ...
5
votes
4answers
27k views

What should a reply to “What's up?” be?

How should you reply to "what's up?"
5
votes
4answers
898 views

Garbage/stuff words

I've watched two interviews. One with Grace Park, one with Eliza Dushku. What one can't miss is that Eliza uses an awful lot of garbage words (or how is it called) — um, so, like, you know, ...
5
votes
3answers
1k views

Why do like loads of girls my age like saying “like” so much, like? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Is Valley Girl speak like entering the language? Please can you explain the origins of where the annoying over-use of the word "like" came from? Does this have anything ...
5
votes
4answers
1k views

How to say I may mislead you again?

How to say I may mislead you again: because of my poor English, in a good manner the responsibility is mine (no need to speak out, just let she surely know this). i.e., I'm afraid of my poor ...
5
votes
2answers
8k views

What is a “high-level conversation”?

Recently I was told by a potential interviewer for a job that we would be having a "high-level conversation" soon. I assumed at the time that she just meant a conversation with a higher-up, e.g., ...
4
votes
11answers
3k views

What's a good comeback to “obviously”?

If someone tries to sound smart in repartee by saying, Well obviously blah blah blah but what they said is actually wrong, then what's a good comeback to that, or what's a good way to phrase ...
4
votes
6answers
69k views

“All The Best” vs “Best of Luck”

I heard somewhere that if we wish someone younger than us then say "Best of luck" and if we wish someone older than us then say " All The best". I don't know how much of this is true. Will you ...
4
votes
2answers
8k views

What does “there, there” actually mean?

It came from an episode of Big Bang Theory; when Penny gets hurt, and asks Sheldon to be more comforting, he starts the conversation with "there, there." What does that mean?
4
votes
2answers
9k views

“Please let me know.”

Is it okay to answer "Please let me know", short (without "when...", "if...", "what...", etc.)? Consider for instance -- I can check that for you tomorrow morning. -- Yes, please let me ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

Introductory phrases like “to tell the truth”

What is the difference between the following introductory phrases? To tell the truth Frankly speaking To be honest Is any of them more old-fashioned or formal than the others or are ...
4
votes
2answers
720 views

What word describes our habit to use extremes in language, and what are its implications?

I have heard that in America, and likely elsewhere as well, we are beginning to be more gratuitous with our use of extreme words when not entirely accurate, such as the words "awesome", "always", ...
4
votes
3answers
27k views

Does the phrase “fine with me” have a negative connotation?

I have always thought that you could answer "it's ok with me" or "it's fine with me" when you agree with something that somebody proposed, like a meeting time. But apparently the phrase can have a ...
4
votes
3answers
1k views

What is the origin of 'be my guest' idiom?

I was surprised when I found out the meaning of a dialog like this: - May I do something? - Be my guest. As for me, it looks really weird. Why 'be my guest' has the meaning 'do it, I don't mind'? ...
4
votes
1answer
408 views

How can I describe preparing before travel?

If I am preparing before my travel and I pack my things, how can I better describe this process in conversational speech, "packing up one's things" or "I pack up one's things"?
3
votes
3answers
764 views

What is the polite way to acknowledge a pregnant lady after a long hiatus? [closed]

I knew her well, but I see her again when she's 7-months pregnant. Do I say, "Congrats on the upcoming baby?"
3
votes
3answers
4k views

What does aw mean?

I have heard somebody saying aw, shucks. What does that mean? In which other cases is the word used?
3
votes
1answer
665 views

Is “checking my résumé” ok?

Is the following sentence correct (when I call a company’s HR department)? Could you please call me back after checking my résumé?
3
votes
2answers
2k views

Answer to “enjoy your meal”

When you're having lunch and you see someone he can say "enjoy your meal", "bon appétit" or "enjoy". I can answer him by saying "thank you", for instance. But for example in Spanish we usually say a ...
3
votes
4answers
5k views

How can I speak as though I were from the Victorian era?

I think that it would be really cool to be able to speak as though I was from the Victorian era. How can I learn to do this?
3
votes
1answer
141 views

Asking a question to create context?

I'm not sure if this is the right place to ask this, but here is far better than my usual territory StackOverflow. Sometimes to start a conversation or to bring up a subject I ask a question. I ask ...
3
votes
1answer
18k views

'May I speak to…' vs 'May I speak with…' vs 'May I talk to…' [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “Speak to” vs. “Speak with” What is the difference between “speaking” and “talking”? What is the ideal opening line for a phone conversation? In ...
3
votes
0answers
399 views

What's the best resource for improving everyday speaking? [closed]

I'm having a job interview in a month. My writing, reading and listening are good. However, I have weak conversation skills. I need an efficient resource to improve my speaking. Any resource is ...
2
votes
5answers
1k views

“How are you” in America

People in America ask "how are you" a lot. Many people would reply with "I'm good." If I am feeling OK, I would say "I'm well." Which version is right?
2
votes
4answers
341 views

What is this Dad going to say?

Here is a situation: Dad is talking to his 5-year-old son while watching TV: Dad: I really like this movie. Son: But I don't like this movie. Dad: I am a bit hungry. Son: But I am not hungry. ...
2
votes
3answers
15k views

“It was great seeing you.” “You too.” Why not “Me too”?

In response to "It was great seeing you," why do people say "you, too" instead of "me, too?"
2
votes
1answer
159 views

“Are you happier?”

I was reading an English book. This is a snippet of a conversation below: But please tell us... do you like your job? Are you happier? I am confused at happier. Why not use happy?
2
votes
3answers
389 views

The most natural way of asking for telephone call redirection [closed]

What is the most natural way to ask a hotel receptionist or a secretary to transfer your call to a hotel room or an office? Could you please connect me with room number 321? Could you please ...
2
votes
3answers
456 views

Finding out the proper word out of book-learned vocabulary

I've been learning English for many years already, using many ways available for me. It is mostly reading, as I have very few opportunities to use English in real communication. Due to this fact my ...