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

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2answers
1k views

How to connect a word and a phrase with a hyphen?

For example, "file system" and "related". Is it "file system-related"? It will appear as if it is a compound of "file" and "system-related", won't it?
76
votes
4answers
123k views

When “etc.” is at the end of a phrase, do you place a period after it?

Example: It's all about apples, oranges, bananas, etc. VS. It's all about apples, oranges, bananas, etc..
11
votes
2answers
975 views

“Try to save” or “try saving”

Are both try to save the file and try saving the file grammatically correct? If so, is there any difference in meaning?
9
votes
4answers
6k views

“The thing is, is that…”

This is a phrase I've heard many people use, and it sounds wrong to me; e.g.: The thing about that is, is that she might take it the wrong way. It seems to treat "The thing [...] is"—the entire ...
19
votes
3answers
4k views

“to be all but X”

What does "all but" mean in this expression? Today, under pressure from P2P distribution, optical disc piracy in wealthy countries is "all but eliminated" and profit margins elsewhere are slim. ...
13
votes
1answer
3k views

The construction of “Known but to God”

The Tomb of the Unknown Solider has the engraving "KNOWN BUT TO GOD", as presumably no man knows his name, but shouldn't it read "unknown, but to God", as the default for everyone is "unknown", with ...
12
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7answers
35k views

What does “had had” mean? How does this differ from “had”?

For example, what is the difference between the following two sentences: I had a bad day I had had a bad day
18
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5answers
13k views

Origin of “Fits [x] to a T”?

The above phrase is something I've known for as long as I can remember, though I don't know from where. What is its origin and usage?
13
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14answers
7k views

Phrase for focusing on unimportant details

I'm looking for an idiom or saying that I could use when people are focusing too much on small details and not seeing the big picture. A couple that come to mind are "being penny-wise and pound ...
11
votes
2answers
2k views

“How big of a problem” vs. “how big a problem”

Quite a few phrases in English are constructed like so: How [adjective] a [noun]...? This is the question form of the construction, which is often answered with the negative: Not that ...
7
votes
7answers
113k views

Which is correct: “drive safe” or “drive safely”?

Which one is correct? Similarly, is "do good" correct?
4
votes
5answers
2k views

“Needs cleaned” or “needs to be cleaned”

I'm from Western Pennsylvania. Until I moved away, I never realized that when I omitted the to be from phrases like needs to be cleaned, my usage was different than what most English speakers are ...
13
votes
1answer
6k views

Difference between phrase and idiom

What is the difference between a phrase and an idiom?
5
votes
6answers
2k views

One's brilliant vocabulary and a tendency to show it off [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What’s a big-vocabulary word for someone with a big vocabulary? There are people who are blessed with a remarkable knowledge of vocabulary and diction – people who can ...
2
votes
2answers
3k views

What is the origin of the phrase “not to mention …”

Of course whatever follows would seem to be precisely the thing that isn't to be mentioned. EDIT: I'm assuming that the phrase must have evolved from something more complete/cumbersome, like "and of ...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

Is there a name for “I don't mean to…, but” phrases?

"I don't mean to change the subject, but..." but you are changing the subject. "I don't mean to interrupt, but..." but you are interrupting. Is there a name for these type of "polite" ...
8
votes
6answers
19k views

“Good night” or “good evening”?

If it's 7:30pm, which of these phrases is correct, Good night or Good evening?
3
votes
3answers
5k views

Somebody is gonna kiss the donkey

I heard this phrase when I was watching Battleship. An old man said, "Somebody is gonna kiss the donkey." I do not know what it means, I only heard it in a movie. What is this phrase mean? In ...
1
vote
6answers
872 views

Is 'low speed' finally proving its merit?

Technically, you should expect the term low speed, not slow speed (which is obviously illogical). However, it seems the two phrases co-existed as long as one can look back: with low speed fighting ...
17
votes
5answers
3k views

Is employing hyperbaton correct in English?

I've often seen the sentence structure "____ does not a ____ make" which I've now discovered is called hyperbaton. the use, especially for emphasis, of a word order other than the expected or ...
9
votes
6answers
16k views

How did the phrase “are you nuts” come about?

What is the connection between "nut" and the character? How was the phrase "are you nuts?" used at first?
21
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5answers
86k views

Origin of the phrase, “There's more than one way to skin a cat.”

The meaning is clear, but where did this phrase originate? Was it always such a gruesome reference?
18
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8answers
6k views

Ripe with Opportunity? Or Rife?

The Grammarist says I should use rife with rather than ripe with. So far so good and I agree. But is there an exception for ripe with opportunity? Googlefight overwhelmingly prefers ripe, and I like ...
7
votes
4answers
59k views

What does the phrase “good for you” mean?

What does this phrase mean? And in what cases is it appropriate to use it?
6
votes
1answer
6k views

What's the origin of “I'm down with it”?

I understand it's an expression of agreement. What exactly does it mean and where did it originate from?
3
votes
6answers
588 views

“Have some reason you” or “Have some reason why you”

Can the "why" be removed from the phrase "have some reason why you?" Example: Do you have some reason you ____? vs. Do you have some reason why you ____? Are these both grammatically ...
15
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20answers
11k views

Are there other idioms like “a stone's throw away” that both describe an activity and act as a measurement?

If something is quite close by, it could be described as being a stone's throw away; even closer might be a hop, skip and a jump. I'm interested in these "units" of measurement based on human action. ...
8
votes
5answers
15k views

In what case you would say “I am seeing” instead of “I see”?

In what case you would say "I am seeing" instead of "I see"?
20
votes
3answers
3k views

What does the suffix “‑fu” mean?

Can anyone tell me what the suffix “‑fu” stands for in the following sentence? If you want to take advantage of some other Spring-fu, like some of its aspect-oriented features, then you’ll need to ...
17
votes
11answers
77k views

“The point is moot”

I was recently called out for using the phrase "the point is moot" incorrectly. My intent was to indicate that I felt that the point wasn't really worth debating or discussing. I was then shown that ...
16
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6answers
33k views

Is “my bad” a correct English phrase?

I have seen many people use the phrase "my bad" in Internet forums. What does it exactly imply and is it a proper English phrase?
15
votes
7answers
3k views

Is Apple's Old Slogan, “Think Different”, grammatically incorrect?

Not too long ago, Apple Computer used the phrase "Think Different" as an ad slogan. Is this a grammatical error (that is, it should be "Think Differently"), or are they trying to say something else ...
10
votes
4answers
27k views

Is “this Monday” or “next Monday” the correct way to refer to the very next Monday in the future? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What day is next Tuesday? When I refer to the very next Monday that will occur in the future, I say "next Monday". Some colleagues refer to it as "this Monday", with ...
4
votes
4answers
11k views

“my friend” vs “a friend of mine”

I always found it weird to hear people say things like "My friend asked me to come" (with no prior mention of said friend), as opposed to "A friend of mine asked me to come". To me it seems as though ...
12
votes
9answers
24k views

What is the origin of the phrase “cut the mustard”?

What is the origin of the phrase "cut the mustard"?
6
votes
4answers
10k views

What does “suck it up and go” mean?

I came across the phrase, “suck it up and go” in the columnist’s answer to a question from a reader of Carolyn Hax's column in Washington Post’s “Lifestyle” section (July 2nd). The Q&A titled ...
4
votes
4answers
675 views

What do you call the exploitation of ambiguous statements to form a logical argument?

If I were construct an argument containing the postulation Men commit more crimes than women. I would be guilty of a logical fallacy because this statement implies All men commit crimes. The ...
15
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5answers
2k views

Please explain “I Am America (And So Can You!)”

As a non-native speaker, I found Stephen Colbert’s book title I Am America (And So Can You!) a little hard to dissect. Why so can you? Why isn’t it So Are You? What’s the full phrase that And So Can ...
9
votes
8answers
20k views

What does “I know, right?” mean?

Not only is my seventh grader using this phrase, but her teachers are as well. I suppose it means I totally agree with you and you totally agree with me but it sounds like there is a subtle Is that ...
8
votes
3answers
6k views

Where does the phrase “balls to the wall” come from?

I know the phrase means "going all out" but I can't figure out what it literally means or where it originates from.
8
votes
4answers
686 views

“Back up data” or “back data up”?

Which is correct? To back up data. To back data up. The context is the following: He was careful enough to perform tests and [back up data | back data up] to avoid any problems.
6
votes
8answers
1k views

What would you call a person who is not a student, but takes interest in exploring academic topics?

A person who is not formally enrolled as a student, researcher or faculty in some university or college but who takes interest in exploring academic topics/stuff. For e.g. Such a person could be ...
6
votes
2answers
15k views

The phrase “let alone”

I notice that "let alone" is used in sentences that have a comma. The structure of the sentence is what comes before the comma is some kind of negative statement. Right after the comma is "let alone," ...
5
votes
3answers
2k views

What does “pull sb. out of the hat” mean?

I found the phrase, “pull her out of the hat” in the following sentence of the quote from Frank Bailey, the most relied-upon former aide of Ms.Sarah Palin, whose memoir, “Blind Allegiance to Sarah ...
5
votes
3answers
8k views

What is the origin of the phrase “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”?

I thought it'd be frightfully easy to find the etymology of this cliche on the Internet, but so far I haven't had any luck! It wont even tell me if its a maxim or not!
5
votes
3answers
19k views

“Tit for tat”—Where does this come from?

I always ask myself where this saying originates. I only know the individual words, tit and tat, but why is this a saying?
5
votes
3answers
23k views

“to a degree” vs. “to an extent”

Is there a measurable difference in meaning between the phrases "to a degree" and "to an extent" (or "to some degree" and "to some extent")? Examples: To [some degree / some extent] that is a ...
4
votes
2answers
2k views

Why is “Good Night!” dismissive

To start off let us construct a situation were I am walking along and I pass another person. Depending on the time of day and to be polite I say one of the following: "Good Morning!" "Good Evening!" ...
4
votes
3answers
568 views

Take this question with a grain of salt

Where did this ubiquitous phrase come from? Usually it is used in conjunction with either disputable of downright dubious information but I can't think of how salt helps the situation. The only thing ...
3
votes
1answer
7k views

Not only… but also

Consider the following: Not only you should be able to speak but also able to write. You should be able to not only speak but also write. You should not only be able to speak but also be ...