A phrase is a group of words that make a unit of syntax with a single grammatical function.

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The phrase “more sharp” vs “sharper”

So I was talking to my fiancee and she said "more sharp" to which I said "you mean sharper?". This is in context of talking about her current earrings being "more sharp" then her usual ones. She then ...
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2answers
12k views

As good as it gets- grammar

I do know what "as good as it gets" means (in my language, we say "it will not get any better"). However, I do not understand the grammar here: Firstly, does the "get" mean a change of state here? ...
14
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2answers
4k views

“Broken my duck”? Is this a common idiom/phrase?

I steal this phrase from a comment on Meta Stack Overflow: yep, I think I've broken my duck or so to speak :) – Kev♦ 51 mins ago The context is one of having been basically broken into a ...
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4answers
24k views

What is the origin of the phrase ‘By the by…’?

What is the origin of the phrase 'By the by...'?
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4answers
14k views

Where does the idiom “beating around the bush” come from?

Where does the idiom "beating around the bush" come from?
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6answers
2k views

What does “I’m like, c’mon guys. I’m the president of the United States.” imply?

The Washington Post (April 14) reported President Obama's off-the-cuff remark during a meeting with donors in Chicago held on April 13th under the title: "Obama riffs with donors: Where are the cool ...
8
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3answers
743 views

Is there a term for a product having the same name as its place of origin?

Several trade products, especially food, have been named after their places of origin throughout the centuries. To mention just a few, champagne, after Champagne, France. calico, after Calicut, ...
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7answers
17k views

'Drop us a line' - letter or phone call?

According to the Free Dictionary, dropping someone a line means sending them a short message. Is this correct? I always thought it meant phoning someone, the line referring to a telephone line.
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3answers
1k views

What is the origin of the phrase “to take a rain check”

I know what it means, but can't really see the reasoning of this phrase. Anyone with an insight?
7
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2answers
13k views

Classify into 4 categories or in 4 categories?

Which is more correct? I am going to classify these faults into 4 categories. I am going to classify these faults in 4 categories. I am going to classify these faults as 4 categories. ...
7
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2answers
3k views

When a phrase ends with a period, do you put … or .. after it?

I was just reading this question: When "etc." is at the end of a phrase, do you place a period after it? And it brought to mind something similar. If a phrase ends with a . (such as e.g. or ...
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7answers
4k views

How to say “You have this much work to do because you decided to do that much” more elegantly?

I want to try word this a bit more elegantly, fancy, etc. Basically that is a reply to a co-worker who said to me in an email saying "Too much work to do!" and I want to reply to that in an ...
7
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8answers
10k views

Where does “Going out on a limb” come from?

I know that the phrase, "I'm going out on a limb here" means either to take a risk or hazard a guess, but where does it come from? As in, what did it originally refer to before it became an idiom?
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4answers
482 views

There is no headache strong enough, that a good coffee won't relieve

I heard this phrase today and I'm pretty sure that there is something wrong with it. I do not know if it is the grammar or the syntax or the meaning of the words. Can you please tell me what the ...
6
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4answers
6k views

Is the expression 'half a percent' acceptable in formal English?

When central banks raise or lower interest rates the radio announcer will say for example: an increase of one half of one percent Informally people use half a percent instead, which is less ...
6
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3answers
31k views

What is the origin of the phrase “forty winks,” meaning a short nap?

Inspired by the question How long is a 'wink'?, I did some work on the origin of the phrase forty winks. Though the OP at the wink question mentions the phrase, it does not ask about its origin. So I ...
6
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7answers
39k views

What is the meaning of “Many a mickle makes a muckle”?

I've heard this phrase, and don't know what a "mickle" or a "muckle" is. Hence I have no idea at all what the phrase itself is supposed to mean.
6
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2answers
81k views

Meaning of “hail to the king”

I can't translate that sentence, “hail to the king”. I've found something like “greetings to the king” but is this correct?
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11answers
14k views

Idiom for the phrase “someone who gets what he deserved”

Is there an idiom for someone who gets what he deserved? Like someone receiving punishment for his evil deeds or someone getting awarded for his good deeds?
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2answers
19k views

“Thanks for having me”

Recently, I finished my phone job interview with the phrase "Thanks for having me". It was a reply to the other person's "Thank you for your time". So, does "thanks for having me" sound alright in ...
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4answers
1k views

Bless your heart

Is "bless your heart" something only used by old women in the South (all I've ever heard)? Or is it ever appropriate for a man to use it without seeming unmanly? Does the term always have ...
5
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1answer
8k views

What is the difference between an expression and a phrase?

I'm trying to decide what tags I should be using and realized I did not know the difference between these terms.
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3answers
2k views

Term for double meanings

What is the term used for a phrase that could have more than one meaning such as "This battery is free of charge"?
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5answers
3k views

Is “since I'm” now an acceptable alternative to “since I was”?

In a recent episode of the television show Entourage, Ari Gold (a 40 year old man) says: I've known her since I'm 19. In an episode of Sex and the City, a character, who is 15, tells Carrie: ...
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8answers
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encapsulating a positive thing among many negative things

Is there a phrase that encapsulates 'this is a positive thing among many negative things'? Context: I need to find a name for an article I am writing - which is about how a person turned everything ...
4
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1answer
242 views

“How did I do this” or “how did I do that”?

Is there a difference between: How did I do this? and How did I do that? If not, is there a preferred one? If they are different, when should I choose one over the other? I am not a ...
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1answer
6k views

What does “Thundering typhoons” mean?

What does "Thundering typhoons" mean? Actually it was in the 2011 movie The Adventures of Tintin.
3
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3answers
450 views

“Carrot of profits”

What does the phrase, carrot of profits, mean? The context is And for smaller companies, using the carrot of profits 20 years away isn’t likely to sway VCs who can see no further than three. A ...
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4answers
13k views

“I am working” or “I have worked almost two months at this project”?

Which one is correct? "I am working almost two months at this project" or "I have worked almost two months at this project" I want to give this meaning: I'm still working on it.
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6answers
9k views

What is the structure in “as best you can”?

I instinctively translate it "as best as you can", however this makes no sense. What is the real structure behind this phrase? I'll include an Ngram to illustrate the historical presence of this ...
2
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7answers
12k views

Usage of the phrase “you don't know what you don't know”

What is the correct usage of phrase "you don't know what you don't know"? Can it be used in formal conversation/writing?
2
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2answers
15k views

Should I use present or past tense when referring to a (scientific) paper? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What (grammatical) tense to use when doing reference in a paper? In the two examples below, which tense is preferred? "Smith (2001) noted that ..." or "Smith (2001) notes ...
2
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4answers
322 views

Does one open a browser “on” a URL?

Can I say: It opens the browser on the URL [X] meaning that something is opening the browser with the URL [X] already typed in and loading?
2
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3answers
2k views

Why does “something catch my eye” but not “both my eyes”?

I am not a native English speaker, I usually hear “something caught my eye” but never “something caught (both) my eyes”. This seems pretty strange to me. Cambridge Dictionaries Online provide these ...
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5answers
15k views

Are “preaching to the choir” and “preaching to the converted” synonymous

The following are acceptable expressions that I have heard: "Preaching to the choir" "Preaching to the converted" To me, both mean essentially that you are trying to explain something to ...
2
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4answers
329 views

What does “make the last word on word” mean?

I found the article of New Yorker magazine dealing with U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Antonin Scalia’s scrupulousness of the usage of words under the title’ “Salia’s word game” very interesting as an ...
2
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5answers
1k views

“A classmate and I was” vs “A classmate and I were”

I'm writing a resume right now targeted towards a specific company. My girlfriend (a classmate) and I were (see, I don't know if that's the right word, hence this question!) the first from our school ...
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1answer
2k views

What does “get down with the kids” or “be down with the kids” mean? [duplicate]

To show how “down with the kids” she was. He sounds like someone’s dad trying to “get down with” the kids. Can somebody tell me what “down with” means in these sentences?
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3answers
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How to describe the feeling you get when something exceedingly irritating, irritates you? [closed]

Got extremely annoyed today. But that's not the word I was looking for. I had to deliver a case of bottled water to some friends living in another dorm in our college. I have to tell you, the sound ...
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1answer
2k views

Is 'thought it to be' grammatically correct?

Does If man continues to scathe all of Earth and its seas, then this isn’t the world I thought it to be make sense? Or should I just replace the 'to' with 'would'?
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3answers
705 views

Is there a term for French words adopted by the English language, such as “hors d'oeuvres” or “objet d'art”

I would call them "Frenchisms" or some such -ism, but I figured I'd at least ask first. So is there a name for such adopted foreign phrases? Also, how about those adopted from languages other than ...
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3answers
303 views

The use of question formation in non-question phrases?

I have read the following text some time ago: [...] Only here can you enjoy dazzling entertainment, get the thrill of your life on the exciting rides, and be face-to-face with some of the ...
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2answers
2k views

Close by or nearby? [closed]

The cops traced residential address of his relatives who lived close by. Close up/down, close off, close in are terms well understood, I have not seen such usage of close + by. Would it be better ...
0
votes
2answers
441 views

taller than any student or taller than any other student

Which of the following sentences is correct? a) 1. John is taller than any student in his class. 2. John is taller than any other student in his class. b) 1. No student is taller than ...
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2answers
2k views

Which is correct: “What is” or “What are” [closed]

How should I phrase "What is the first 5 digits of your home postal code" or "What are the first 5 digits of your home postal code?"
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2answers
12k views

What does “in spades” mean? [closed]

What does "in spades" mean, for example in the following sentence: demand and love are both there in spades ... I guess "in spades" means "on cards" or "on the table" or exist?
41
votes
7answers
122k views

When your 10-year old boy says “It’s meta,” what does it mean? In what situation and of what sort of object they use this phrase?

I asked about the meaning and usage of meta a few days ago, quoting Maureen Dowd’s review of the movie, “J. Edgar” in New York Times. I received six answers. But I still don’t get a clear idea of ...
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14answers
225k views

Different ways to say “you're welcome” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How do native English speakers respond to “Thank you”? Can “Sure” be used to respond to “Thanks”? Is “not at all” still alive and doing well? I'm getting ...
31
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2answers
93k views

Why do we say “to boot”?

Here's an example of the phrase "to boot": My wife made a disgusting looking dinner, and it tasted awful to boot! The implication of the "to boot" is that the fact that the dinner tasted awful ...
34
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8answers
81k views

Distinction: “What can I do you for?” vs. “What can I do for you?”

Usually, when being served the phrase "What can I do for you?" is used but sometimes I also hear "What can I do you for?" in quite the same context. So is there a difference or is it just a slip of ...