Choosing the best phrase for a particular context or meaning.

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2
votes
1answer
554 views

How to use refer to previous literature/researches in research papers?

If I am talking about the topic Singapore English and I want to briefly survey the previous researches on the same topic, does the following sentences sound natural in English? In literature on ...
2
votes
8answers
18k views

What do you call a person who motivates or inspires?

My choices so far: motivational source inspirational source source of motivation source of inspiration Being a non-native speaker, I don't know which one to use. What I want to say is that ...
2
votes
2answers
222 views

Which is the correct expression for say that I have two items of three possibilities?

Which is the correct expression for say that I have two items of three possibilities? Two of three? Two out of three? Other?
3
votes
1answer
378 views

Can “Call it a career” be applied only to celebrities and successful people?

I saw the idiom, “Call it a career” in the article of New York times (May 12) announcing Barbara Waters’ planned retirement in 2014: ...
2
votes
1answer
1k views

“To go so far as to” — suitable for academic writing?

Is using the phrase "to go so far as to" in an academic context (e.g. in an article in humanities journal) acceptable? New Example: I do not know why Mister X went so far as to assert that Mister ...
1
vote
0answers
139 views

How to express this idea on formal occasions [closed]

everyone. I was making an application for iPad. It's a music game that you can record and play your tracks by touch the virtual piano keyboard on screen.But in the manage view,i want to remind the ...
3
votes
1answer
139 views

If I go to a Language School, do I go to school?

My friend, aged 21, has just started taking classes at a language school, and will shortly be doing 4 hours each weekday there. It feels very odd to be saying "How's school going?" – we finished ...
0
votes
4answers
102 views

Failing sometimes for unknown reason

Context: I have an automated test that sometimes fails for unknown reason. It's a sort of false positive: the feature it tests is not broken. Most of the time, either it succeeds or fails for right ...
3
votes
1answer
1k views

“Trust arrives walking and departs riding.”

That is the translation (provided by Wikiquote) of the Dutch proverb "Vertrouwen komt te voet en vertrekt te paard." I don't like this translation very much for conversational use. It doesn't "feel" ...
2
votes
5answers
432 views

Expression for “resource paralysis” - can't do anything because you have too much?

Is there any word, expression or proverb for the condition or state where you can't do anything because you have too much? I have heard a professor of English refer to this as "resource paralysis" ...
0
votes
3answers
918 views

Expression for “pulling out something from the past”

I am looking for an expression (proverb / idiom) meaning "pulling out something from the past" in disapproval. An example of this would be: somebody mentioning a thing of the past, which is not ...
-1
votes
2answers
71 views

Which “one” should I use?

I'm having a hard time picking between These are one of the foundations of.... and These are ones of the foundations of.. Or is there a more idiomatic way to express it?
0
votes
1answer
91 views

Can “the fact that X” imply “X is a fact”? [closed]

A: How do I know if my professor is good? B: Do you understand what he says? A: Yes, but that might be because I'm a natural genius, and not necessarily the fact that he is good at ...
2
votes
1answer
4k views

“Take the role” vs. “take over the role” vs. “take on the role”

Is there a significant difference between the three expressions, or can they be used interchangeably? I'm trying to say that a colleague of mine succeeded to another after the latter had quit his ...
3
votes
5answers
388 views

Short expression for “If you are not 100% convinced yet, this last thing will seal the deal”

I'm writing a LinkedIn recommendation for a colleague of mine. I praised his abilities far and wide; now I would like to throw in one last (ironic and informal) punch line to top it all off. Here is ...
-1
votes
2answers
124 views

Do you “program with language X” or “program using language X” or something else?

What is the correct way of saying the following sentences (python is the name of the language and numpy is one of the libraries): I made this program with Python using numpy library. I program ...
3
votes
3answers
452 views

How to describe “choose to do something by one's own willing”

For example, there is a course (say French course), for students in a college. The students can take it, but they don't have to. Someone, who is not a student in that college, thinks that this course ...
3
votes
2answers
270 views

What's the act of darkening windows to disallow visibility?

What's the word to describe the act of darkening windows to disallow visibility from outside yet visibility from inside to outside is possible? I was thinking of tinting, to tint a window, but ...
3
votes
4answers
2k views

How can I rephrase “enough rope to shoot yourself in the foot”?

Some time ago I have a read a very famous book of Allen I. Holub "Enough rope to shoot yourself in the foot" (this book on openlibrary.org). I have read it in Russian and the book was titled with ...
3
votes
6answers
3k views

How can I say “not any time soon, but it won't take a long time either”?

I was writing an email to a client about a feature we plan to eventually release, maybe in a couple months, but they want some of the functionality now. I initially wrote: If there's something ...
3
votes
2answers
155 views

Question mark with your hands [closed]

How do you call a gesture of spreading one's hands and turning them palms up to suggest a question? As in "what did you just do, man? That was so weird that left me speechless, so I had to raise my ...
-1
votes
1answer
998 views

Is “come again” an absolute slang? [closed]

I am not a native English speaker and use the expression "come again" in various forms such as "Come again, please" or "Can you come again?". I consider it to be a general expression which can also be ...
22
votes
6answers
4k views

Are “Fish in a barrel” and “Sitting ducks” similar?

Do the phrases "Fish in a barrel" and "Sitting ducks" convey the same thing? In my opinion, they have the same tone and express something to be an easy target. Eg: Out there, they are just fish in ...
2
votes
1answer
338 views

Why is it “the worst round one care to remember”?

I am interested in the usage of “care to infinitive verb” in the following sentence in Jeffery Archer’s fiction, “Kane & Abel”: “By the time they reached the eighteenth, Alan was eight holes ...
8
votes
10answers
6k views

“You get what you deserve nothing more nothing less”

In this world we reside, what we acquire depends on what we can acquire. In other words, if we have the money to, we can buy a house; if we have the necessary educational qualifications to, we can get ...
2
votes
3answers
840 views

Alternative expression for saying “piece of someone's mind”

Sentence example: I am really upset and frustrated with one of my friends. So when I meet him next time around I will definitely not hold myself back and give him a piece of my mind. What ...
0
votes
4answers
2k views

The difference between using a comma or a full stop

What's the difference between "I see, I see" and "I see. I see"? Can one use a comma in between? The first sentence could be used in formal writing, right? What about this one: "My house, my rules" ...
2
votes
3answers
914 views

Colloquial expression for something working very fast?

I am looking for an expression as an alternative to fast in the following expression: Ever since they have constructed flyover/overbridge, traffic has been very fast. My laptop has been super ...
46
votes
12answers
4k views

What's the English equivalent of the Japanese saying, “A fart ruins 100 days of sermons by the priest (bishop)”?

I was amused by the expression "Paid a penny and only farted" (related by @FumbleFingers), which suggested a similar Japanese saying: 大山鳴動鼠一匹 - "Find only a small mouse coming out after hearing ...
0
votes
3answers
1k views

“in response to” vs “for response to”?

"I am writing in response to your mail." What does it mean by "in" in this sentence? Is "I am writing for response to your mail." acceptable?
15
votes
7answers
5k views

Expression for someone who doesn't like to eat

Is there an expression for a person who eats very little, doesn't like eating, avoids it? I don't mean the medical condition of anorexia, I mean a common preference, like kids who need a lot of ...
2
votes
3answers
1k views

What is a common English expression for when you were very tired or out of it and said something extremely stupid?

I kept thinking of "spazzing out" but that doesn't quite seem to be it. An example is when you're very tired and kind of dozing off and you say something or ask a question that is incredibly stupid ...
3
votes
2answers
3k views

Shut your mouth

I’m confused regarding these expressions: Shut up Shut your mouth Shut your mouth up Shut up your mouth After some research, I’ve come to believe they are all correct except “Shut ...
2
votes
3answers
152 views

Is “optimization to” correct phrasing?

I have this sentence in my bachelor's thesis: After a paragraph describing an accommodation subprocess (set of activities)... Basically, there are two potential optimizations to this ...
0
votes
3answers
1k views

How to use 'both due to' in a sentence? [closed]

I'm a non-native speaker and I'm having trouble using both due to in a sentence. I want to describe a certain thing, let's say 'A', is a result of two processes, 'B' and 'C'. I remembered a friend ...
-1
votes
2answers
409 views

What do you call/describe these windows/pages and things within these windows/pages?

When using the computer and surfing the net, you often come across these windows/pop-up windows, and pages where you need to or are asked to fill in blanks, check boxes, select items from drop-down ...
5
votes
3answers
499 views

What is the behavior where one closes their nose with their lips to elude foul odour called?

I have seen this question, and it is not exactly what I'm asking. Sometimes people (most especially in developing countries) raise the tip of their lips to cover their nose when a foul odour is sensed ...
11
votes
4answers
926 views

“Who is that for?”

Showing a baby bottle to my son I ask him "Who's that for?", obviously waiting for a "That's for me!" answer (which turns out to be just "Me!") But I am not a native speaker and I kind of translate ...
0
votes
1answer
7k views

“More precisely” usage [closed]

After describing a certain issue in a more general manner I want to outline the inner details of it. Is it correct to start the paragraph whose purpose it is to give to the reader the detailed ...
2
votes
3answers
2k views

On the difference between “noun + infinitive” and “noun + present participle”

Infinitive and present participle can be used to modify the noun: Infinitive: I had no time to read those books. Present participle: There should be a law banning abortion. In (1), ...
0
votes
2answers
506 views

Is there a difference between “to go forth” and “to go further”? [closed]

Last week I studied with some friends at college and after a short break, I decided to proceed with the exercises. I said "Well, let's go further." and one guy (native american) said "Okay then. ...
1
vote
3answers
397 views

How do I reexamine for the first time?

I'm about to examine something. This something has been examined before by somebody else. How do I say in one word (or more) that I'm about to examine this something for the first time, but it is not ...
1
vote
2answers
108 views

From the statistics point of view, does an estimator may have a bias or it may be biased?

Will it be correct to state that a statistical estimator may be biased, or that I must state that the above estimator may have a bias? Is it acceptable to add the /-ed/ to the word bias in the above ...
3
votes
1answer
1k views

Used since sometime in the past until now (and still continuing)

How can I express that something has been used for a while and is still being used? …used a xyz system that has been in daily use for several years. I'm not sure whether this expresses that the ...
0
votes
2answers
784 views

What is the best way to say that something was done in teamwork?

In my resume, I'm describing several projects I've worked on in the past. Most of them were done in teamwork. What is the best way to say this? Examples: Together with XY, I built ... OR In ...
0
votes
1answer
519 views

what do you say when someone is at your door? [closed]

When a mail man knock at the door, I was sleeping. I was going to put on my clothes, then open the door. Then I said: "coming". I suddenly felt like it was "come in". So what do you say when you want ...
5
votes
5answers
404 views

Synonym or equal phrase to “merely philosophical”

When something is bound to be of little substance, or the discussion of it surely only giving rise to opinion or sophistry, sometimes the phrase "merely philosophical" is used. In this article I'm ...
1
vote
3answers
2k views

“I'm proud that you are my father”

A friend wrote this as a tribute to her father for his birthday: I'm proud that you are my father I am not a native speaker either, but it to me it sounds like "you are the father of someone ...
3
votes
3answers
1k views

Expression that means “as soon as something is finished”

I am looking for an expression that means "right after finishing something, start something". For some reason, the words "fresh off the heels" keep springing up but I googled them and it's not an ...
3
votes
2answers
284 views

Almost half a dozen [closed]

I understand, dozen may be more comfortable than twelve in speech. I can understand using over a dozen or almost a dozen These imply rough measurement of the count, maybe ten, maybe eleven, or maybe ...