5
votes
1answer
122 views

Name for when an adjective modifying a noun leaves the class of objects the noun describes

When adjectives modify nouns, usually they restrict the class of objects that the noun refers to. For example: Red car A red car is, in particular, an instance of a car. However, in specialty ...
1
vote
1answer
66 views

Etymology of progressive forms [duplicate]

In spite of English the German language does not have Present/Past Progressive, although both languages have the same root. When and why did the progressive tenses develop and became part of the ...
6
votes
1answer
102 views

Concessive “as much as” and “much as”. Which came first?

Related: "Much though" vs "much as", Use of 'Much as' [closed], Using “as much as” at start of sentence Consider the following two variations: As much as I hate to admit it, I cannot swim. ...
0
votes
1answer
75 views

Where did “I lost it” come from?

People on Reddit often comment "I lost it" while quoting the funniest part of a joke to highlight how funny that part is. As I don't speak English much, I am not sure if this is Reddit-specific, but I ...
13
votes
5answers
3k views

If a word has two different meanings, is it two different words or one word with different meanings?

My brother and sister-in-law are arguing about whether "train" meaning locomotive and "train" meaning teach constitutes one word with two different meanings or if it's two different words. I said ...
3
votes
1answer
337 views

Why do we say “he asked after you” not “he asked about you”?

What are the origins of "ask after" and is it dying out as the way we currently speak?
2
votes
3answers
9k views

What's the difference between “speak” and “talk”, grammatically speaking?

There are a number of questions (example, example) that deal with the slightly different connotations of the words "speak" and "talk". However, there also seem to be some grammatical differences ...
4
votes
2answers
286 views

What is a “mock euphemism?”

I have to make flashcards for my AP Lang class, but I can't find what a "mock euphemism" is anywhere. Can anyone help?
1
vote
2answers
87 views

How to find words which are related morphologically?

I'm looking for a book, or any other source, which lists words that are morphologically related, like this: imagine verb imagination noun imaginative adjective Or this: medic ...
2
votes
3answers
236 views

Can a man made object be named arbitrarily without reason

I had a debate with a friend on how things made artificially are named. My friend proposed that all man made things are named with a reason/proper meaning. I disagreed saying not all things made by ...
-2
votes
0answers
50 views

'whom' vs 'who' [duplicate]

How does one use 'whom' in a sentence? Is this sentence correct? Ex: I am delighted for all my cousins who have found happiness.
-2
votes
1answer
3k views

What is the origin of the “should of” instead of “should have” mistake? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How did the use of “could of” and “should of” originate, and is it considered correct? Recently, I tend to stumble a lot over the mistake that people write should of ...
8
votes
2answers
3k views

Plural of “abacus”

A colleague and I were having a discussion as to the proper plural form of abacus. I believe the plural would be abacuses and he feels that the proper form would be abaci. I believe that abacuses is ...
4
votes
3answers
640 views

Why is there a “one” before “hundred”, “thousand”, etc. but not “ten”?

As the title says, why is there a "one" before "hundred", before "thousand", and so on, but not before "ten"? This seems shared between some languages, including Chinese (10 = 十 = ten, 100 = 一百 = one ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

Why is “ouster” the act of ousting and not one who ousts?

The question should be clear enough from the title. Also: What are we supposed to call one who ousts? [If this warrants another question, I will edit this out and open another question.]
2
votes
1answer
775 views

What is “Godspeed”?

Title says it all. What does it really mean? What is its origin?
8
votes
2answers
3k views

What is the origin of the phrase “you've got another thing/think coming”?

What is the origin of the phrase "you've got another thing coming"? And — perhaps more importantly — is it more correct than the alternative "you've got another think coming"?
1
vote
2answers
837 views

The grammatical strangeness of “done me wrong” and “did me service”

Why are "done me wrong" and "did me service" established phrases instead of the more standard "He wronged me" and "He serviced [helped] me"? EDIT: I just realized whatever connection I saw with ...
8
votes
2answers
429 views

How did 'mad' come to be a determiner?

There's a group of words — I think they're called determiners — used to indicate number in some way... like many, few, most, etc. During a linguistics class my professor said this was a closed group ...
8
votes
2answers
1k views

Origin of different past tenses for verbs with the same endings?

Why do we have a situation where the past of "to blow" is "blew", but of "to glow" is "glowed"? And don't say "flew" if you mean "it flowed". The poem Lovers, by Phoebe Cary has many examples of ...
7
votes
2answers
299 views

The all-powerful “to have”

"To have" seems to fill a lot of different needs in the English language, apart from its literal meaning of possessing something. It's an integral part of perfect and perfect progressive verb tenses: ...
22
votes
7answers
2k views

When did “while” and “whilst” become interchangeable?

I think most folk happily use either "while" or "whilst". I've a vague recollection that at one time "while" indicated the passing of time and "whilst" was essentially the same as "whereas" or ...