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

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Passive voice in this sentence

I am a bit confused about these sentences below. The word "encumbered" baffles me. "Encumbered" is usually used in passive sentences. I am not able to understand the agent in these following ...
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2answers
369 views

Does the expression “to go under the knife” carry a negative connotation?

Is there a difference in connotation between these two phrases? I asked my student whether her mother was scheduled to GO UNDER THE KNIFE this morning. I asked my student whether her mother was ...
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106 views

“Bar none (the most/the best…)” for “without exceptions or by far (the most/the best…)”

I once came across the idiom "bar none" for "by far/with no exceptions" as in "He's bar none the best player on the team", after what (for some reason unbeknownst to my forty three year old self) it ...
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1answer
126 views

appropriate usage of proceeded

The investigator proceeded at the crime scene? Is this correct? Can I use the word went instead?
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1answer
745 views

Nationalities - When do we use the singular or plural form

I always have doubts whether to use a singular or a plural noun when I refer to certain peoples. For example, we say Americans, Italians, Brazilians, Russians and Austrians. But we say The British, ...
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1k views

When is it appropriate to use the idiom “various and sundry”

To my ears the term "various and sundry" sounds redundant. What is the proper use of this idiom?
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1k views

“Anticipate” for “look forward to” [closed]

Can "anticipate" be safely used as a substitute for "look forward to" in informal prose like emails and general correspondence, but also in business writing? e.g. I'm anticipating to hear from you. ...
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3answers
127 views

“Board” and “go/be aboard/on board” in AE

In AE, is it acceptable to say board/go aboard (and hence be aboard/on board) for such miscellaneous and various vehicular (or mobile) devices as an elevator, a bus, a truck, a van, a people carrier, ...
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59 views

Can “allophone” be used to mean “nonnative”?

Do you use allophone in replacement of nonnative? And, do you have more expressions meaning nonnative?
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50 views

Usage of “walking out clean”

Is the following sentence grammatically correct? "I just hope he walks out clean from the probe" If not, what is the correct form? EDIT: The context of the above sentence is a situation where you ...
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2answers
95 views

“At all” in w-questions

I don't know how to say it but "at all" used in yes or no questions has a specific function. I would maybe call it "asking for a basic reality" but I don'T know if that makes sense to anyone. Do ...
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173 views

The problem with the word “quite” [duplicate]

"Quite" is probably the most ambiguous word in the English language. Merriam-Webster defines it three ways: 1: completely, wholly, totally (quite mistaken) 2: to an extreme : positively (quite ...
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498 views

'Deflected Off of' vs 'Deflected off' [duplicate]

A question straight from the football commentary pages : X's shot deflected off of Y before finding its way into the net. What is the correct usage here ? Deflected off of or deflected off ?? ...
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36 views

Does not or Might not?

This is the message: The user might not fall under the scope of this policy. It denotes that a setting is not applied to the user because the user is not part of the policy. He's surely not ...
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3answers
2k views

What does “have a pastrami on wry” mean?

I was drawn to the expression, “I wish I could have pastrami on wry“in the beginning sentence of Maureen Dowd’s article, titled “Still mad as hell” in New York Times (February 8): "I often wonder ...
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2answers
284 views

Differences between “very” and “very much” as adjective modifiers

The following examples are clearly wrong: × I am very much tired × She is very much clever But the following sounds fine (at least according to OALD): I am very much afraid that ... I am ...
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2answers
708 views

“I am poor in english” or “I am poor at english” Which one is correct? [duplicate]

Well the title pretty much speaks for itself. Also all kinds of other suggestions are accepted. I just want to know the correct usage.
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62 views

Proper use of retrospective

I am writing a narrative essay and I am currently working on the final touches. Right now I am focusing my attention on the title. The essay is a look back on a couple days, several years ago that a ...
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2answers
169 views

Difference in Usage of Specificity & Specification [closed]

I found two noun words such as Specificity and Specification. When can we use Specificity over specification.
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135 views

Usage of `é` (e-acute) [closed]

As a French person, I am always amused by the usage of the letter é in English. For instance: fiancé café résumé touché (coulé) Pokémon (yup, that's a good one) This letter, though very common in ...
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2answers
51 views

Is it correct to say “No users have configured this setting”?

Is it acceptable to say "No users have configured this setting"? It is an error message. It sounds odd to me. "None of the users have configured this setting" seems OK. Please provide your advice.
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2answers
93 views

The occurrence of comparative degree

I've checked in LGWSE by Douglas Biber, Stig Johannson et al (2004) but failed to find the explanation as to what the cases of usage of the comparative degree are. In all Russian grammar texbooks of ...
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2answers
845 views

English Syntax Rules Based on Word Choice

I was reading the Wikipedia article on Animacy and came across something I found to be very interesting: The higher animacy a referent has, the less preferable it is to use the preposition of for ...
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2answers
99 views

Is there any other way to say 'Sent Successfully'?

The actual message is 'Message was sent successfully'. But, we are not sure that the message was delivered to the person or the person has read the message. Is the use of 'sent successfully' correct?
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41 views

Right usage of “undergo” with syndrome [closed]

Is the sentence.... XYZ (n) is undergoing ABC syndrome. Right?
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1answer
103 views

It's not affect, but can you “effect” something?

I understand the differences between affect and effect, and generally when to use them. However, in some cases while reading I have seen authors use the phrase "effect a change" (among others) ...
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3answers
165 views

The word “geriatric”

Would you say describing somebody as "geriatric" is offensive? I think it's neutral in American English, but the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary describes it as "informal" and "offensive".
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237 views

Is the sentence “are you done your soup?” proper English? [duplicate]

My mother in law is Scottish and has lived in Canada for the last 45 years. She will often omit the word "with." When asking my child if he is ready to get out of the bathtub she will say "Henry, ...
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5answers
728 views

Is “less bad” correct usage of the language?

If an outcome is not as bad as the alternative. Is it correct to use "less bad" to conclude a comparison? A: I've got bad news, her brother was in a car accident. B: Is he hurt? A: No, ...
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91 views

Phrase: 'cited after'

I don't understand what's the meaning of "cited after" in books, when they cite a source, e.g., (cited after Manin 1997: 3)
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1answer
751 views

How do you use “knack” in a sentence?

On this post here, it says: Another word which comes to my mind is "Knack". It can be used to show how someone has a specific talent. Again as an example - Tim is good with musical ...
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2answers
155 views

To see them play and to see them playing

Excuse my limited acquaintance on English usage; which sentence is grammatically correct, and if any, which meaning do they convey to ? I saw them play chess. I saw then playing chess. Many ...
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3answers
4k views

What's the difference between “content” and “contented”?

What's the difference between "content" and "contented"? I feel content with my present condition. I feel contented with my present condition. When she calls me by my name sweetly, I ...
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3answers
43 views

Can someone please tell the Usage of “its” in the following is correct? [duplicate]

Here is a quote from "Ever Wonder Why / the color red angers a bull? " (page 20). It has been suggested that this reaction to red (my note: of bull which is color-blind to a shaking cape in red) ...
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160 views

What does “bullying beat” mean?

There was the following line in New Yorker’s (January 18) weekend book review titled, “A Startup Fairy Tale and the Dark Side of Yoga.” “Emily Bazelon returns to the bullying beat in this week’s ...
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13answers
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When should “no problem” replace “you're welcome” as a response to “thank you”?

I have observed a growing trend in which people substitute "no problem" for "you're welcome" as a response to "thank you". In particular, it seems to be an increasingly common response from servers ...
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2answers
434 views

Do women tend to use the word “lovely” more often than men?

Do women tend to use the word lovely more often than men do? And also, should men rather avoid using this word when describing something they liked? meta: I hope this question doesn't sound too ...
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0answers
28 views

Origin/Usage of “[word] is a [number] dollar word” [duplicate]

I've often been wondering where the phrase in the title comes from - I always picture it as coming from an early television era game show, but more likely it has to do with pricing of telegrams or ...
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2answers
132 views

“area” vs. “areal” to describe an estimate of space

E.g. an areal/area estimate of corn in Iowa "Areal" is commonly found in remote sensing and land cover literature (this article, for example). Which is most appropriate to describe the estimation of ...
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3answers
268 views

Is it ok to use the irregular past tense of a verb as it were a regular one?

Let's say I say / write catched instead of caught or buyed instead of bought, etc. I know this is grammatically incorrect, but is it incorrect or perfectly fine to use it in every-day life ? English ...
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2k views

What are usages similar to “Need I say more?”?

I recall hearing usages like Need I say more? Need I remind you that ...? instead of Do I need to say more? Do I need to remind you that ...? Indeed, they sound better, at least to ...
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370 views

Why does European packaging use “gb” to represent English?

Something I've always wondered is why companies that are based in Europe tend to use "country" abbreviations to represent a language instead of the language abbreviation itself. Given that there are ...
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1answer
59 views

Is the given usage of Outrage is correct? [closed]

Outrage in my mind, Smile on my face. This is Life. Can outrage be used the way I used above?
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270 views

Ending a sentence with “and thanks”

I have a colleague who ends many emails with "and thanks". To me it sounds awkward and random, but I wonder if anyone has seen this usage before? Examples (note particularly the third one!): "That ...
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1answer
588 views

What does “sense of community” mean?

Currently, I'm living in HK. But I am Chinese and I know nothing about Cantonese which is the mother tongue of Hongkongers. So, I feel lonely here and I don't think I belong here. So, can I say I ...
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179 views

Question about subject-verb agreement

Is this a run-on? By 1990, it was even easier to make bottles and paper products quickly; as a result, competition among companies grew and stores featured products with increasingly interesting ...
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2answers
2k views

Should I say “more exact”/“more precise”?

My understanding with the words exact, precise and accurate is that they are absolute. Meaning, there cannot be less accurate or more accurate. Is my understanding correct? If it's exactly 1 meter, ...
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0answers
16 views

Usage of 'it' in the sentence [duplicate]

What does it refer to in the sentence: It is dark outside?
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2answers
1k 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!" ...
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Infinitive Clause For “Curious”

I need some help about the infinitive clause that comes after "curious". Let's say that I am "curious" about a locked room. Then, could I write this: I am curious to open the door. I ...