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

learn more… | top users | synonyms

2
votes
1answer
144 views

Apostrophe usage in the Iliad (Lombardo) [duplicate]

I'm taking a classics class, and we're currently reading Lombardo's translation of the Iliad. It strikes me incredibly odd how possessive and plural nouns are formed: The met by the ancient oak ...
2
votes
1answer
2k views

Is “play chess when others are playing checkers,” a well-known / well-used phrase?

I found the phrase, “he’s always playing chess when others are playing checkers,” in today’s (September 11) article of New York Times, written by Charles Blow under the headline of “It’s a Mad, Mad, ...
4
votes
4answers
412 views

What does “Lose the Drama” mean as one of 7 ways for women at work to negotiate?

In an interview of co-host of NBS Morning Joe, Mika Brzezinski by Erin Skarda of Time magazine, Brzezinski gave 7 tips for women to take into their next career generation starting “Don’t act like a ...
7
votes
3answers
619 views

Usage of “stood up” to mean “set up”

I was reading this question on meta.ELU and was struck by what, to me, was a strange use of the phrasal verb to stand up: The site for English Language Learners was stood up in large part so that ...
1
vote
1answer
1k views

What is the Use of an Adjective of the Same Word Twice in the Same Sentence called? [closed]

Is there a name for this type of usage using words (in this case adjectives) repetitively in typical sentence formatting? There has got to be. This is killing me. BTW, I'm no English professor. ...
0
votes
1answer
672 views

What is correct “Other” or “Miscellaneous” [closed]

I'm working on a company Index and want to give users the option to add their company to the index which is categorized by products & sevices. I've got a limited number of main categories and each ...
2
votes
1answer
88 views

Usage of the abbreviation of a specific-type short phrase

Could you tell me how to abbreviate few-word phrases as in the use of "mobile" for "the mobile business" in the sentence "Company A's lagging position in mobile is the most pressing challenge?" ...
4
votes
3answers
197 views

Is “close helmet” correct? Why/why not?

I've been debating this for a while now with a comrade of mine. Wikipedia (and others) give "close helmet" as a type of medieval helmet. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Close_helmet ...
15
votes
8answers
5k views

When did the term “flip flop” displace the term “thong” in North America for a type of sandal?

To Australians like me "thong" means a kind of sandal such as recently repopularized by the Havaianas brand but we know it means a kind of G-string in other English-speaking parts of the world. To ...
3
votes
3answers
319 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
700 views

What is the proper use of “right the way along”?

I've heard the idiom "right the way along" used many times in British literature and video, however, I'm slightly unclear as to what it means. It seems, at first glance, to be a British variant on ...
-1
votes
2answers
5k views

Using “An” and “A” in a sentence [duplicate]

I'm trying to understand this simple concept. As far as I understood it, back to the days when I was a student, "an" should be used only before vowel words, that is, only before the following words: ...
0
votes
3answers
275 views

“I grip the steering wheel like I grasp TO my memory of that day.” Is that “to” wrong? Omit, or change to “at”?

In the sentence above, is "grasp to my memory of..." wrong? It feels wrong, but I can't articulate why. I might say "grasp at my memory of" or perhaps omit the preposition all together. I fear ...
0
votes
1answer
3k views

“…that I have not got”, vs. “gotten”? [duplicate]

In such a context as... I have never applied to job that I cannot do, nor to one that I have not gotten. vs. I have never applied to job that I cannot do, nor to one that I have not got. ...
0
votes
3answers
2k views

Why do many professional writers hate adverbs, and what should be used in their place?

In response to the death of Elmore Leonard the New York Times has posted a list of writing tips he composed back in 2001. Among them is the following: To use an adverb this way (or almost any way) ...
0
votes
1answer
131 views

Usage of the phrase “couldn't help without”

I am getting confused at the usage of the phrase "couldn't help without." For example, "I couldn't help without answering the call" Is this correct & what does this sentence mean?
3
votes
3answers
284 views

What does Susan Sarandon’s remark, “you can’t just vote your vagina” in distancing from Christine Quinn mean?

I’m often startled with, and at the same time enjoy finding unordinary expressions and quotes in Maureen Dowd’s column in New York Times. But I batted my eyes when I saw the actress, Susan Sarandon’s ...
5
votes
3answers
810 views

Is there a term/word for using an incorrect homophone

What would you call the following: Speak now or forever hold your piece.
1
vote
1answer
116 views

Mentor and Mentoring

Would someone who is not a professional but knows a subject (such as automotive repair) in depth and offers advice and hands-on assistance with repair procedures be considered a mentor? Is the act of ...
-1
votes
1answer
191 views

Two verbs used consecutively [duplicate]

Is it correct to say Tsunami coupling in the code 'helps determine' human casualty i.e., is use of multiple verbs consecutively correct? Also, is it 'help determine' or 'helps determine'?
3
votes
1answer
4k views

“Would it be” vs “Will it be”

I was writing an email to my colleague and as part of it I wrote Would it be possible for you to help me with this? I felt a bit awkward after sending the mail. Should it be would or will? I ...
2
votes
2answers
566 views

Usage of “to be across”

I have only recently encountered "to be across", meaning "to understand fully". I have long been familiar with "to get across", of course. It seems to be the recipient that corresponds to the giver ...
7
votes
3answers
9k views

“was able to” vs “could”

According to my grammar book, here are some usages of was able to and could could can be used to refer in general that someone has a skill. e.g. At that time I could still read without spectacles. ...
1
vote
2answers
85 views

Usage of the word “antiquarian”

This question concerns the word "antiquarian". Is it a legitimate adjective from the word "antiquity"? I want to say something along the lines of "antiquarian context", to mean context from ...
2
votes
2answers
387 views

“avocation” vs “hobby”

When do I use avocation and when do I use hobby? Or can I use them interchangeably? I need to choose between these two words or a url. Would www.kunalthehobbyist.com sound better or ...
2
votes
1answer
14k views

What does “leaning in” mean as basic qualifications of women in the pursuit of positions in the workplace? [duplicate]

New York Times’ article written by Scott Schieman, et al under the headline, “When Leaning in doesn’t pay off” starts with the following sentence; ...
0
votes
1answer
118 views

Use of “would” for subjunctive phrases

This has been bugging me for some time; I tried to look for previous questions here but my language tools may not be sharp enough to phrase my query correctly so please forgive me if this has already ...
4
votes
4answers
208 views

Does “drape oneself in something” have the meaning of “be armored in”?

Gabe Rottman , a legislative counsel and policy adviser at the Washington legislative office of the American Civil Liberties Union contributed an answer to the question, “Is it wrong for credit card ...
0
votes
1answer
76 views

lying down and then sit up/down? [closed]

If your child is lying down and you want them to get in the sitting position, how do you ask them to in an informal/everyday language? If you could provide more than one way, it would be appreciated.
5
votes
3answers
303 views

Is there a rule about using the adverb “utterly” followed by negative adjectives?

I have noticed that most of the time it is the case in usage, but I'm not sure if it is a rule or not. I. e. would it be right to say "utterly wonderful" or does it sound oxymoronic? Thanks
1
vote
4answers
1k views

“Pair” or “couple”?

Can anyone tell me the difference between pairs or couples? Especially I need to know if you say "a pair of puffins" or "a couple of puffins" if you mean a female and male bird.
2
votes
2answers
437 views

What does someone “pushes back and crack some eggs” mean? Is it a popular turn of phrase?

In Maureen Dowd’s article titled “Who’s that candidate in the teal toenail Polish?” in New York Times (August 3), ...
0
votes
3answers
908 views

Does “walk back” have a meaning of ‘deny’ or 'keep distance from somebody / something.' as an idiom?

I came across the phrase walked back from time.com: a State Department spokesperson had walked back his (John Kerry’s) comments in the Time magazine’s (August 2) article titled, “Oops: John Kerry ...
-1
votes
1answer
764 views

Comma or no comma before “only”?

Sample phrase: Use the item for those purposes, only. vs. Use the item for those purposes only.
3
votes
4answers
1k views

Is the expression “the dead of night” or “the dead of the night”?

I always thought it was just "the dead of night" - no "the" following "of"(unlike "heat of the night"). But I recently came across "dead of the night" and I'm wondering if its correct.
0
votes
1answer
131 views

Use of “unique” [duplicate]

UNIQUE should not have a qualifier? Does it not mean "one of a kind" and thus it is incorrect to say, for example, "more unique'? One sees this misuse in advertising frequently. Is it now acceptable ...
0
votes
2answers
142 views

Is this worded correctly if it was spoken in an interview? [closed]

Is this worded correctly if it was spoken in an interview? I am like a clean slate. I do not have any preconceived notions about how the company runs
1
vote
1answer
686 views

What does “tell someone to hard-delete” mean? [closed]

I posted a question about the meaning of ‘hit Delete’ a couple days ago. Now I came across another texting word, “hard-delete” in the headline of Maureen Dowd’s article dealing with Anthony Weiner’s ...
2
votes
3answers
185 views

Is “Compete to get scraps from a shrinking pot” a set phrase, or President Obama’s ad hoc turn of phrase?

In the New York Times’ interview to President Obama in Galesburg, Ill. on July 28 (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/28/us/politics/obama-says-income-gap-is-fraying-us-social-fabric.html?hp), Mr. Obama ...
0
votes
1answer
713 views

'Given a choice' vs.'If I had to choose'

Can the phrases given a choice and if I had to choose be used interchangeably? I made a statement like "Given a choice, I would do this," my original intention being to select that over the other ...
0
votes
1answer
34 views

Accredited school versus accredited degree

Is it proper use of the adjective "accredited" to say or write "an accredited degree?" I can't find it used in this manner in a dictionary and I feel like the adjective in this sense should be applied ...
2
votes
1answer
1k views

What's the difference between “a year”, “per year” and “out of a year”?

Suppose I want to say that I'm at sea seven months out of twelve. (Just an example.) I think I can say "I'm at sea 7 months a year" or "I'm at sea 7 months per year" or "I'm at sea 7 ...
-2
votes
1answer
75 views

How should I use commas in the middle of compound sentences? [closed]

How do you punctuate the following sentence? The introduction of a low cost Hartford Cycle line had staved off the competition for a number of years, but, by 1897, with 700 competitors in the ...
10
votes
5answers
1k 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
5k views

Function of “too” in the phrase “so too” or “so, too,”

I just ran into this sentence in an online article: But as the App Store’s fortunes rose, so too did the iPhone’s, and later the iPad’s. If I were editing that sentence, I would remove the too ...
2
votes
2answers
551 views

Does “coming down” mean “traveling south”? [duplicate]

In the context of traveling, I have heard of and used the phrase "coming down" when referring to a journey from one place to another place that is further south. Perhaps, it's because I have always ...
2
votes
3answers
422 views

Is there any scenario, situation, or way to make “doing something selfishly” have a positive connotation?

The thing is, I am confused whether the word selfish itself can be used without expressing a negative connotation. I am a bit biased about it since I believe that by using this word it automatically ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

perfect infinitives with main verbs

My question is about usage of perfect infinitives with main verbs e.g. I would like to have lived in the 13th century. She was going to have worked in her mother's business, but decided ...
1
vote
0answers
27 views

“I am yet to see” versus “I have yet to see” [duplicate]

What is the difference between I am yet to see X and I have yet to see X and in which situations would each be preferred?
-2
votes
1answer
130 views

Does using the phrase “operational state” imply that the referenced “thing” is inanimate?

Can it also be used while referring to animate "things"?