Choosing the best phrase for a particular context or meaning.

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44
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 ...
11
votes
5answers
28k views

“Please advise” — why is this a common turn of phrase for foreign speakers of English?

I was just browsing through StackOverflow just now, and randomly hit on this question, where the question-asker signed off his request with a "please advise." Certain I'd heard this turn of phrase ...
22
votes
6answers
2k 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 ...
4
votes
4answers
2k views

“Both which” or “both of which”

"This can be done using the technique of Peters, and using the technique of Matthews, both which involve mathematics" Having searched both which and both of which in Google, it appears both of which ...
12
votes
10answers
2k views

Is there a term I can use for a boss's favorite employee?

Over dinner tonight, one of the guests was describing herself as her boss's favorite employee, and asked for a term to describe this. As the only guest who spoke English as a first language, the ...
3
votes
1answer
116 views

Is absence of the person needed in “On someone's behalf”?

In the middle of a conversation he had with my father, [Mr. X] asked him: “What does your son want to do in future?”. “He wants to do religious studies,” my father replied. He talked on my behalf ...
2
votes
2answers
2k views

Compact rephrasing of “In contrast to previous work, our method …”

I am writing an abstract for a paper, where I say the following: "In contrast to previous work, our method does not rely on ...." Then, about three sentences later, I would like to use a similar ...
0
votes
2answers
1k views

How about 'play cute' or 'play adorable'?

I wonder if 'play cute' or 'play adorable' is frequently used to stand for 'act cute/adorable' in spoken language. It seems easier to google out 'act cute/adorable' instead of 'play cute/adorable'.