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

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The usage of “banzai”

I started to reread a pretty old mystery of Thomas Harris, “The silence of the lambs,” which I once gave up reading because of difficulty of understanding the narrative studded with technical jargons ...
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11k 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. ...
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264 views

Can anything be “bated” but one's breath?

We are all no doubt familiar with the phrase "with bated breath," but is it ever used in other contexts?
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215 views

How did 'wieldy', the positive form of 'unwieldy', come to be a non-existent word?

I.e., is there a known reason behind why the negative form of the word 'wieldy', 'unwieldy', is so vastly used, whereas the positive form is essentially a non-existent word — MacMillan ...
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1k views

Does the phrase “don't even pass the laugh test” pass as an idiomatic expression, or only a set of words?

I was intrigued to the phrase, ‘the argument doesn’t pass even the laugh test’ in the following statement of Bruce Schneier, a security technologist on the debate about whether Edward J. Snowden who ...
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33k views

“Is equal to” or “equals” [duplicate]

Are both is equal to and equals similar in meaning? Which is the more natural? For example, one plus one equals two or one plus one is equal to two.
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1answer
600 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 ...
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6answers
1k views

The usage of “the same…as…”

Which one of the following two sentences is more correct? We use the same space as is specified in Chapter 1. We use the same space as specified in Chapter 1.
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7answers
3k views

Is the use of future tense (especially “will” and “shall”) going out of grammar?

My English teacher taught us that there is no such thing called "future tense" in existence. Instead we were asked to use present indefinite tense. He said that we should use "I am to go to London" ...
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4answers
824 views

“A new pair of ” or “A pair of new”

a new pair of shoes / pants / scissors a pair of new shoes / pants / scissors I can’t find which one of those two it should be, and I’ve seen some debate about it. “A new pair of shoes”: Could it ...
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4answers
877 views

How often is “more often than not”?

A person, supposedly a native speaker of English, assured me that I would say "often" means roughly 50-60% of the time, whereas "more often than not" means 75-95% of the time, and is closer in ...
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337 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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4answers
238 views

How do teachers ask to calculate expressions?

How do American/British primary school teachers ask their pupils to calculate an expression? E.g. What is 2+3 equal to? What is the value of 2+3? ... In particular, I'm interested whether the ...
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3answers
43k views

“The other way around” or “the other way round”

I see both phrases the other way around and the other way round very often. Which is correct? Please provide usage examples.
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4answers
6k views

Install on, install in, install to

When I say "programs to install on a new PC" it sounds alright to me, but I'm not sure if it's the correct usage. Which one of the following should I use? Programs to install on a new PC Programs to ...
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1answer
280 views

Etymology of “rabona”

In association football, rabona is used to describe a specific technique: a method of kicking the football whereby the kicking leg is wrapped around the back of the standing leg—effectively with ...
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2answers
1k views

Prepositions: “in” vs. “on” a tab/widget

In my quest to grasp the dichotomy between "on" and "in" I have found another example that left me in doubt. Initializes the widgets added on the tabs. Validates the information on the ...
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2answers
3k views

“Actually” vs “really”

Sometimes I wonder if he is actually/really as lavish as he pretends to be. I know that this sentence can work without either actually or really, but if we were to use one of them to make an ...
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1answer
579 views

Using “rather” to correct a misstatement

For some reason I have it in my head that I can use the word "rather" at the end of a phrase to indicate that I am correcting a previous misstatement. For example: Down the hall, you'll find the ...
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2answers
476 views

What Defines a Utah Accent?

I have heard a number of people refer to the "Utah accent." What is it that distinguishes a Utah accent from others? I have noticed that, in some cases, people from Utah omit the 't' from words such ...
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2answers
4k views

What led to the increased usage of “schtupping”?

I was listening to a television show the other day and one of the characters used "schtupping": schtupping — to have sexual intercourse with Dictionary.com notes that the term's origin is ...
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2answers
309 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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4answers
1k views

What does “stuff one's nose into another's orifices” mean?

According to Maureen Dowd's article in New York Times (May 20) under the headline, “Remember to forget,” the European Court of Justice ruled last week that Google and other search engines can be ...
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3k views

Do you know the meaning of the American idiom “pot calling the kettle black”? [closed]

I would like to know something more about this American idiom and how north American or English speaking people use it. Can you guys answer my questions? Do you know the meaning of this idiom? Are ...
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4answers
1k views

Difference between “ignorant” and “uninformed”

What is the difference between ignorant and uninformed? In ordinary usage, is one considered a put down and the other considered a statement of fact? If so, why? Am I ignorant or simply uninformed?
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913 views

Is there a term/word for using an incorrect homophone

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

How do I formally speak dates?

How are dates formally spoken? Are there any differences in the British and American versions?
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2answers
626 views

What is a term to refer something in the middle of a list just like “former” and “latter” is used in a list containing two things?

In a sentence, if someone says the former, they are talking about the first thing they listed, and says the latter for the last thing they listed. What would be the term to refer something in the ...
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1answer
575 views

What does “state” in “State University” refer to? [closed]

There are many universities and colleges in the United States with names such as "... State University". The word state has many distinct meanings, but pertinent to this question are: government, ...
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3answers
1k views

usage of “yet to be”

Can I say He is yet to be a murderer. to mean the he is not a murderer, but very soon he will be one?
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7k views

You didn't miss me, right? (possible answer with correct use of English)

A) No, I didn't miss you. B) Yes, I didn't miss you. C) No, I did miss you. D) Yes, I did miss you. According to my common sense perfect answers can be C) and B) only, and reason behind it is- ...
5
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1answer
936 views

Does 'twink' imply a specific sexuality?

I know that twink is a slang term for hot young homosexual guys who do not have facial hair. This word is very common in the gay community (and their adult industry) and recently I've heard a debate ...
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4answers
157 views

Must you be successful to be labeled an “assassin”?

Query triggered by this Globe and Mail article: Headline: Malala Yousafzai assassin held, freed in 2009 by Pakistan military First Sentence: The would-be assassin who shot a Pakistani girl in the ...
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1answer
526 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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359 views

Can et al. be applied to companies?

I am used to seeing this used to condense a list of authors; however, is it correct to apply it to a list of companies? For example, would it make sense to say: Seminars being held by Google, ...
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2answers
282 views

Is “nowadays” the same as “today”?

When helping an Italian speaker with her written homework, a cover letter, I told her to change the expression nowadays to that of today. Her original sentence was the following: I would be ...
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1answer
783 views

Frequency of word use vs number of words

Let's consider a partition of the words in the english language according to respective use frequency. Looking at the frequency graph it should be easy to find classes of words with approximately the ...
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1answer
22k views

Correspond to vs. Correspond with

Is there any significant difference between Correspond to and Correspond with? I only mean in the sense of "matching", here, rather than "communication". I've looked at a few sources, but I can't ...
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1answer
198 views

Her love letters--to and from Daddy--were in an old box,

Her love letters--to and from Daddy--were in an old box, tied with ribbons and stiff, rigid-with-age leather thongs:1918 through 1920;... Why (Daddy) in this sentence was written with a capital D?
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2answers
917 views

Is the expression 'too much, too young' grammatically acceptable?

I'm happy to see that grammar is being seen as important enough to be taught in English schools ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22403731 ) again. I think. At least it might improve some people's ...
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578 views

What's a useful replacement idiom for “money shot?”

I'm afraid I have been somewhat innocently causing offense by using the term "money shot" in its general, non-pornographic sense. My coworkers either have dirty minds or lack awareness of the other ...
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1answer
2k views

Does “awe” have a colloquial meaning (similar to “awesome”)?

The meaning of awe is given in dictionaries as "an emotion variously combining dread, veneration, and wonder that is inspired by authority or by the sacred or sublime" (this definition is from ...
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2answers
1k views

Did Victorians say “We are quit”?

Is “We are quit” (meaning “We’re even, no more mutual obligations”) a usage from the 18–19th centuries? Or are the examples of this on Google hits just people making it up (possibly a bad cognate ...
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2answers
447 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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3answers
354 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
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3answers
602 views

Is using past participle instead of present one more polite?

On christianity.stackexchange.com I asked this question: "Is it true that John Paul the Second restored the practice of selling indulgences in 2000?" and one supporter suggested that I replace ...
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1answer
137 views

When Things Used To be “Worth 'X' Millions”

I was reading Raymond Chandler's Farewell, My Lovely, and a character described a rich man as "Worth 20 millions". At least in AmE, we don't use "millions" in the plural anymore in this ...
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101 views

Why does “a bigger number of” seem wrong?

I noticed when answering this related question that I would never say a bigger number of. I have no issues with 5 is a bigger number than 3 (though I would probably say a larger or greater number ...
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4answers
366 views

What is 'draw on'

This question was asked earlier (not by me), but closed and deleted by a mod. But I thought it was interesting, because I didn't know the answer. So I'm reposting it.... The verb phrasal 'draw on' ...
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4answers
413 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 ...