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

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“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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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
490 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
176 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
211 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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4answers
932 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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627 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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966 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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4answers
357 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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1answer
470 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
857 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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5k 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
395 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
150 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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4answers
278 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
32k 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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1answer
642 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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2answers
215 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
160 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
689 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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2answers
431 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
1k 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
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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
324 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
236 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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543 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
113 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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4answers
252 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
387 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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9answers
1k views

Is it really rude to use the terms “the john” and “the loo” in lieu of “the restroom”?

I usually use the term "restroom" (or "toilet" if I want to make sure that everyone in the Czech Republic understands me at once), and, while I've always understood that the terms "john" and "loo" are ...
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4answers
881 views

Is “Know how to cook leeks”an idiom? What does “Read “Hamlet” and know how to cook leeks” mean?

There was the following sentence in New York Times’ article (February 28) titled “What you learn at 40s.”: "Victor Hugo supposedly called 40 “the old age of youth.” - - The conventional wisdom ...
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578 views

Is it redundant to say that something is “clearly evident”?

Here's a sentence: "The volume of resources invested is clearly evident." Is this redundant?
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4k views

If the prefix “a-” means not, shouldn't “await” or “awaiting” mean, “Not waiting?”

If: Apolitical means "not political" and Amuse means...well, it should mean, "not thinking" then why does await or awaiting not mean "not waiting?" I read this earlier question (Is ...
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3answers
984 views

Dustbins & litter

Why do dust bins have the phrase "Do not Litter"? I checked the dictionary meaning - litter means garbage or waste. Aren't dustbins meant for that ?
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2answers
389 views

In AE, is “tin” used instead of “can” to designate an eco friendly BPA free can of sardines?

I've always thought that "can" was the typical term to refer to a can of sardines (or the like) in AE, and "tin" the BE equivalent, until I recently stumbled across "tin" used instead of "can" on a US ...
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4answers
181 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 ...
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4answers
344 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 ...
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2answers
924 views

Why is it correct to say “He came and said something to me” but not “He came and said to me something”?

This question was just posed to me and I couldn't give a clear answer beyond that the second just feels wrong and one would generally use a direct or indirect quotation, as in "he came and said to me ...
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2answers
261 views

Is caret a widely understood word?

A caret is the point that text is in inserted in a text box. Is this known widely? Will the average user (non technical) understand this word? What other phrase or word should be used to describe the ...
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3answers
769 views

Future Perfect with the preposition 'since'

I have a question regarding the future perfect tense and which prepositions go with it. Understandably, by, for, and in work very well with the future perfect. By friday, I will have been working ...
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3answers
710 views

You yourself - double pronoun

You have made it up yourself. This is obviously ok. But if the pronoun it should be repalced by a long noun-phrase: You have made up the illusory world in which you move yourself. It would ...
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2answers
512 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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4answers
255 views

Is it usual to use “full-cry” as a stand-alone adjective?

Maureen Dowd’s article titled “Spellbound by Blondes, Hot and Icy” appearing in December 1st NY-Times jumps from Alfred Hitchcock’s favor of blonde actresses to the dispute of Hillary Clinton’s ...
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7answers
1k views

Confusing structures with modal verbs

I have skimmed through the part on modals of a classic grammar book (Murphy's "Grammar in Use") and picked up all the structures that look strange to me. Could you, please, explain how often they are ...
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130 views

Incorrect? “I only have one distinct memory from the movie, a scene where …”

Should I say “I only have one distinct memory from the movie, that of a scene where …”, or would it work without the that of? If it wouldn’t work without the that of, what if I replace the comma with ...
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4answers
3k views

“Is” or “was” written by?

We usually speak of the events of a work of fiction in present tense, even though they may clearly have happened in the past: "Macbeth hallucinates a dagger floating before him." This is because the ...
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2answers
220 views

Usage of hain't

According to Dictionary.com, ain't has two meanings: Nonstandard except in some dialects. am not; are not; is not. Nonstandard. have not; has not; do not; does not; did not. When I ...
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449 views

“Has reported” as present perfect vs. “has” as present + “reported” as a noun

In the following sentence below, I want to use the word reported as a noun, but it looks like I’m using the present perfect form has reported. How can one be clear when constructions like this ...