How and why certain words are used in varying ways within various contexts.

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Sentence diagramming trouble with figuring out subordinators and relative pronouns

http://imgur.com/a/dyALV for the pictures. In the diagrams my main concern was figuring out if the use of "that" was under the context of it being a relative pronoun or a subordinator. I have trouble ...
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2answers
2k views

What does “Clearasil-scented grammatical sloth” in casual American speech mean?

John McWhorter, associate professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University comments on the growing sophistication (or devolution) of English language among Americans in the ...
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1answer
169 views

Trying to figure out proper form of “that” in sentence

I currently have the sentence "Seahorses are the only fish that practice steadfast monogamy." to tree diagram for class, and cannot freakin' figure out what the word "that" would be used as in this ...
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2answers
86 views

Different from x Different to x Different than [duplicate]

In the following sentence: "When I visited my old school after so many years, it looked completely different in the classrooms and the backyard /from what/to what/than/ it had been when I was a ...
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1answer
261 views

Is “balanced literacy” a generic term, or elementary education specific?

“The Room for Debate Section” of New York Times (July 3rd) deals with “the Right Approach to Reading Instruction,” and throws the question; “The student-led approach to reading and writing known ...
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1answer
107 views

“This is Figure 7 on page 777” or “This is Figure 7 on the page 777”? Why not “the”?

I cannot understand what is wrong with "on the page 8"? My instructor claims that it is "on page 8". It is a specific page to which I referring to on a particular book. What is wrong with "the" in ...
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2answers
1k views

“Follow close behind” vs “follow closely behind”?

I just came across something I'd written a while ago that contained the phrase "follows close behind", and my first thought was that it was incorrect and should be "follows closely behind", i.e. to ...
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1answer
305 views

“Visible strap of the bra on shoulder”?

Is there any word for the strap of the bra that is visible on shoulder.? Mostly it is addressed as strap which is obviously a common word not specific to bra or any inner-wear.
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57 views

Usage of the term 'non-reproducibility'

Studies on genetic factors of schizophrenia are characterized by high heterogeneity and non-reproducibility. Is the usage of term 'non-reproducibility' appropriate in the above sentence? Is ...
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1answer
166 views

Age old question: What's the meaning of 'word'? [duplicate]

An old question, for which I could find absolutely NO reference on the internet for many years. Perhaps I wasn't looking in the right places, but I have no clue about its usage either. Then I ...
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2answers
249 views

Can the word ‘fillet” be used as a verb to mean criticize or ridicule?

There was the following sentence in the New York Times article titled “Marry first, Then cheat” dealing with François Hollande’s “mistress scandals”: “Over good wine and small portions across ...
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4answers
83 views

Usage of the word “through”

what is the meaning of "The malware affects IE9 through IE11(Internet Explorer)"? why can't we use "from IE9 to IE11" instead
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1answer
2k views

How did “fʌck” become taboo? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How long has the f-word been in use as an abusive term? What makes a word offensive? I recognize that this is similar to Etymology of the term "curse words" ...
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2answers
129 views

Does “relatable” (without “to s.t.”) say anything that “understandable” does not say as well or better?

A colleague recently complained to me of the usage of relatable in student writing. It appears to derive from intransitive relate, OED sense 9, attested only from 1947: intr. With to. To ...
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2answers
15k views

What does 'address an issue' mean? [closed]

I always understood 'address an issue' to mean fix or solve an issue. However, a colleague of mine questioned this today and after doing a web search it seems that the more correct or common meaning ...
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0answers
11 views

Use of “to” or "for in a sentence [duplicate]

Use of to or for: Should I name a folder "Guides to The Correct Use of English", or should I name the folder "Guides for The Correct Use of English" ?
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1answer
83 views

“A bunch of nincompoops!” Really ? In the 21st century?

With the FIFA World Cup going on here, I recently heard a tourist use the word "nincompoop" in the sentence "A bunch of nincompoops!". Then I realized I hadn't heard that word for a long, long time. ...
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2answers
188 views

What does “rooster tail”(ing) mean?

"The Winnebago galumphs across the landscape, scattering cows. It catches a wheel and sprays a rooster tail of red dirt." "catches a wheel"? And "rooster tail"? If "Catches a wheel" means the ...
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8answers
8k views

“When I was in college…” Do you really mean college? Or university?

When someone in the US says "When I was in college..." he can mean "college" but he can also mean "university", so I've been told. If that's true, how can we know which one he is talking about? If I ...
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1answer
216 views

Difference between “insensitive” and “not sensitive”

Is there any subtle difference implied when using "insensitive" as compared to "not sensitive"? I am writing: A is insensitive to changes in B. But someone suggested that it conveys a strong ...
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13answers
740 views

A word for reading something thoroughly until one understands it well? [duplicate]

I was wondering if there was one word in English for "to read something thoroughly until one understands it well"? I am trying to translate a word which has this meaning in Chinese. Thanks.
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4answers
279 views

Is the term “professional” justifiably reduced to “being paid to do something”?

I very often hear people call themselves professional at something they haven’t been doing long. On the rare occasions that I ask them how they feel able to qualify themselves as professional, the ...
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5answers
2k views

In English you have 'above', 'on', 'over' and 'on top of' but in Italian one word, 'sopra', covers all four meanings

In Italian if I were to say, "sopra l'albero" (albero = tree) you might rightly ask: "Yes but where, exactly?" But "sopra" is a great word to learn in Italian, not only is it a very flexible ...
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4answers
142 views

“Tote” vs. “carry” in AE

Aside from formality/informality registers, what is to "tote" that is not to "carry" to AE native speakers? Does "tote", unlike "carry", imply a certain way to hold or support something while moving? ...
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1answer
116 views

What are the effects of the passive voice other than changing emphasis?

As this excellent answer points out, the passive voice can change the emphasis of a sentence from the subject to an object. That seems to be its primary function: this other answer provides an example ...
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2answers
83 views

Are the 'beautiful things' of life, the 'beautiful' of life?

The following question set me thinking: Can we use all "nouns" as adjective? What about the opposite? Can adjectives be used as nouns? What are the rules or the stylistic limits to their ...
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2answers
137 views

“More acrid than” but “stupider than” Why is that? [duplicate]

I've just read this quotation here at StackExchange: "Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that." I've checked a few online dictionaries and there ...
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1answer
2k views

Plural of input [duplicate]

What is the plural of input ? It proves unclear which is correct, input or inputs --- or both up to context of usage.
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3answers
2k views

Pretty Please and Similar Phrases

I was wondering who uses 'pretty please?' Is it used mainly by girls? Under what circumstances? Thank you for replying.
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4answers
423 views

“Battled-hardened,” Is this one of New Yorker's renowned idiosyncrasies?

There was a really entertaining short story describing customary exchanges of fierce words between a restaurant patron and waitress in New Yorker magazine (June 14.) under the title, “Lunch at ...
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2answers
174 views

Usage of “acknowledge” [closed]

Is it acceptable to write "We acknowledge Dr. AAA for his useful advice" to express gratitude or appreciation?
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3answers
215 views

Is “Well-spokenness” a phrase in current use ?

I had never heard or read this before, but a job ad required "well-spokenness". The American Heritage Dictionary never even mentions "spokenness". Nor does the OED online. Although I think I ...
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1answer
104 views

Use of 'not' with 'currently'

Being a non-native English speaker (and not good at English too), I am bit confused about the use of not with currently. For Example: In my Visual Studio tool, I got a message - This key ...
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1answer
78 views

What does “pay the graces” mean? [closed]

Have the Three Graces actually been paid? Is that the origin? I found it in the lyrics for a song, where it doesn't seem to make sense at all: I had an impulse to clear it all away oh I used the ...
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2answers
127 views

“Me too invited” Is this correct? [closed]

A friend of mine recently got invited to a speech given by Barack Obama on his trip to Brussels. She wrote "Me too invited" on her Facebook profile. I told her it sounded pidgin. She didn't seem to ...
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2answers
132 views

Is there a word for the second part of a story title after a main character?

I commonly see the format: Main Character(s) and some other important idea Story titles: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day The ...
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0answers
32 views

Good morning vs. Good night [duplicate]

I find that good morning is used both at the beginning of conversations (as in, "Good morning! How are you today?") and as a means of saying farewell. The same is true for good evening. In contrast, ...
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1answer
44 views

Is it possible to use “have” in this case?

I know it is acceptable to use the verb get when saying you are trying to get yourself to do something or you are trying to make yourself do something Examples: After much hesitation I finally got ...
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1answer
64 views

Use of “nay” - still current?

I get the sense that the interjection nay is seen as outdated and used only for humorous effect. Is this assumption true, or is it still acceptable in serious writing?
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4answers
709 views

The proper term for a person who uses words incorrectly [duplicate]

What is the proper term for a person who uses words incorrectly, hoping to impress others?
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73 views

What is the difference?

Hello I was wondering what the difference was between these: I was having the man leave. I was having the man leaving. I had the man leaving. I had the man leave. are some of these ...
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2answers
151 views

Usage of the word “coordinated” in a professional report

Which is a more apt way of using the word coordinated in the given context: I thank Mr. XYZ, who coordinated with me on the project. OR I thank Mr. XYZ, with whom I coordinated on the project. ...
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2answers
346 views

What does “as” represent for in “Cantor quits as Majority leader” and “Cantor to resign as Majority leader”?

Today’s New York Times reported Eric Canter’s defeat in Primary election in Virginia under the headline: “Eric Cantor to step down as House Majority leader” followed by the text copy: “Representative ...
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1answer
57 views

The usage of … number(s) of [closed]

Here we wish to make sure the usage of ... number(s) of ..., which one below is correct? An even number of people An even number of cards Even numbers of people Even numbers of cards An odd ...
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2answers
61 views

The feminine of “He was a leading man of letters”

"William Shakespeare was a leading man of letters". What if we are talking about Florence Margaret Smith. Miss Smith was a leading...... Would you, native speakers, say "woman" ?
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2answers
89 views

captilization of words with abbreviation

I always used to capitalize first letter of words that have abbreviation. For example, Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA). I do this more often when i mention the ...
5
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1answer
625 views

Why don't Americans refer to Indians (and others from the subcontinent) as Asians?

I know there is a related question here, but I am not seeing an answer to "Why is there a difference?" Merely that an explanation of what is used in each country. I am a speaker of American English, ...
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88 views

Why do we use the gerund of begin but not end when discussing a range?

In colloquial speech, one often hears the use of the beginning and the end to denote a range, but you rarely hear them paired in the same form or or the opposite pairing: ie begin and ending, begin ...
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1answer
314 views

Is wrong to say “two and two are not five”…? [duplicate]

Since the childhood days we have been memorizing the tables of numbers saying : two ones are two (2 x 1 = 2) two twos are four (2 x 2 = 4) two threes are six (2 x 3 = 6).... However recently I ...
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1answer
968 views

Are “was/were able to” and “could” interchangeable?

In a grammar book, the claim was made that in the following sentences one cannot substitute "was/were able to" with "could." The fire spread through the building very quickly, but everyone was ...