For questions on how and why certain words are used in varying ways within various contexts.

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30
votes
13answers
4k views

What is the “fundamental” difference between ‘search’ and ‘seek’?

So why do human beings spend so much time playing? One reason is that we have time for leisure; animals have very little time to play as most of their life is spent sleeping and (2)________ food. ...
12
votes
6answers
3k views

Is there a word for “an only child”?

Some languages (Aramaic and Arabic for instance) have a word for someone who's an only child. Does English have a word for it? Perhaps it's obscure or "extinct"? "Sole child" and "sibling-less" are ...
4
votes
3answers
20k 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 ...
0
votes
2answers
59 views

Appropriateness of usage of the phrases “and such forth”, and “so hence forth”

I have a colleague who frequently uses the phrases, "and such forth" and "so hence forth" in conversations with clients. I find particularly the use of "and such forth" to be nonsensical and ...
32
votes
9answers
4k views

Is “best” still a superlative in “best friend”, as in can you have more than one “best friend”?

I was speaking to a 15-year-old native English speaker (in Australia), who referred to someone as her "best friend". Later, she revealed that this wasn't her only best friend. She had four best ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

“In back of'' vs. ”back of“ vs. the spatial sense of ”behind" in AmE

What's the difference to these expressions, as in "The little girl was hiding in back of the tree" vs. "The little girl was hiding back of the tree" vs. "The little girl was hiding behind the tree"? ...
3
votes
1answer
113 views

Usage of the word “hand” in the context

We're using a textbook called "English for Management Studies" by Tony Corballis and Wayne Jennings at our English classes at university. I'm saying this so that you know that the following sentence ...
1
vote
1answer
57 views

Do vulgarity and linguistic flexibility actually correlate? [closed]

Regarding “fuck”, Wikipedia states: [it] has a very flexible role in English grammar, which stems from its vulgarity; the more vulgar a word is, the greater its linguistic flexibility. I ...
2
votes
4answers
128 views

What does the west wind signify to New Yorkers?

The New Yorker carries the archives of entertaining old articles. Among them there was a short piece titled “The street and into the grill” written by E.B. White and published in October 1950. A man ...
2
votes
2answers
331 views

Speed, rate, pace, tempo: what's the difference?

I looked up these three words in Oxford Dictionary and I found that they seem to be interchangeable in some cases. Here's the question: what's the difference between the three words? Rate: ...
1
vote
1answer
100 views

Regional omission of “to be.” [duplicate]

I've noticed that people from the Washington, Oregon area tend to omit "to be" when describing something that needs to be completed. For example, just today one of my consulting engineers sent me an ...
2
votes
4answers
268 views

What adverb, typical of AmEng, coincides most with the BrEng meaning of “quite” [=to a noticeable or partial extent]?

As long as -- seemingly -- the adverb "quite" in AmEng idiomatically carries an emphatic sense to it -- pretty much similar to saying "completely" or "absolutely" as in, "That girl looks quite ...
9
votes
3answers
2k views

What does “Give a chicken in every pot” mean?

There was the following statement in October 29 New Yorker’s article that came under the title, “Why the G.O.P. Candidates Don’t Do Substance”: Did any of the candidates detail how they would pay ...
1
vote
3answers
782 views

What website will give me the frequency of a word in the English language?

Is there a website that will give me a frequency of a word in the English language? I am looking for some thing like this: I would type in the word, and it would give me a frequency rating. I have ...
0
votes
0answers
31 views

Correct use of culling

I received an email that included the phrase "culling through posts." I feel like the word "through" doesn't work here. Culling is defined as - "select from a large quantity," which makes me think ...
0
votes
2answers
97 views

Usage differences between 'exit' and 'egress'?

Are they perfectly interchangeable? Dictionary definitions seems to agree.
0
votes
0answers
37 views

What are the differences between “come on down” and “come down”?

"I answered the phone in my apartment and heard the sloping drawl of one of my students , Travis." Miss Diana, " he said, "Could you come on down the stairs a minute?" It was early May on the ...
5
votes
1answer
95 views

Thoughts on today's article on “farther” vs “further”?

See the article for context. Seems like a plausible suggestion to me, but I'm curious what others think. Consider the house, tree, and sunflower in the illustration at the top of this post. The ...
3
votes
5answers
1k views

To laugh over vs. about

Most of the time when I need to reference something using the word "laugh", my go-to preposition is "about". However, at times, "over" sounds much more adequate in day-to-day use. The big question, ...
2
votes
2answers
151 views

When, if ever, can I use “balded” in modern English?

"balded", as in the past tense of the verb to bald, is apparently a word. But when, if ever, would I use this? If a person is losing their hair, they are balding. If they have already lost it, they ...
1
vote
1answer
27 views

How to use a comma correctly [closed]

Where do I put commas in a sentence like this....? Mom told me to buy butter milk a dozen eggs and six apples at the store.
0
votes
1answer
59 views

“We have sour 3 proctors.” What exactly does “sour” mean here? [closed]

Someone sent out an e-mail to me and many others asking for help proctoring some exams. This person got all the proctors she needed, and sent out a follow-up e-mail with the title "We have sour 3 ...
1
vote
0answers
155 views

How to specify we don't know the gender

I was talking about the short story "The Invisible Japanese Gentlemen" by Graham Greene. The narrator is part of the story and also talks about himself/herself. They ask me what we know about the ...
1
vote
1answer
130 views

How to properly borrow words from other languages? [closed]

For example, if I took the Russian word "Toska" and transposed into an English word "tosk (pronounced as "təʊsk") and created such words and phrases as "toskful", "tosk-stricken", "toskfulness", "to ...
1
vote
1answer
38 views

Cry on chest / in cuddle

I want to describe this picture: The man is crying on the woman's chest. The man is crying in the woman's cuddle. Which one is correct? Thank you.
1
vote
2answers
342 views

Isn't it redundant to use “then” after “if”?

Since "if P, Q" is grammatical, is it not the case that the "then" in "if P, then Q" is redundant? Where P and Q are clauses. For example, "if it rains today, the road shall be wet tomorrow" is ...
2
votes
1answer
53 views

“Inverse” and “Converse” in academic writing [closed]

Do the words "inverse" and the words "converse" have the same meaning in academic writing as they do as logic terms? Or would it cause confusion? If I write, "conversely...", will it mean that ...
7
votes
3answers
3k views

Is it acceptable to start a sentence with the preposition 'except' rather than 'except for'?

The sentence Except the buildings built towards the end of his life, the buildings erected in Istanbul can be assumed to be his. was recently used in a question here. I edited to replace ...
1
vote
1answer
44 views

“I'm cooperating!”

One day, I was chatting with my friend in English. We were talking about something and we both knew that we were joking. The conversation is as follows: My Friend: I am going to watch all episodes of ...
0
votes
2answers
223 views

“Need be” vs. “Needs to be”

I've written the following in a sentence, but now that I look at it, I'm doubting my grammatical instincts and wanted to get a second opinion. ...the balance need be swayed only slightly... Is ...
0
votes
4answers
9k views

Trustable or trustworthy?

For a long time I have been using trustworthy as the adjective for of trust. However, I recently heard someone say trustable, and it piqued my interest. Apparently it is a word on Merriam-Webster as ...
0
votes
1answer
55 views

Connecting “with” or “to”

I read the answers to similar questions, but I need to be sure. I chose the sentence: "Connecting solutions with people" on my business card and want to be sure it's not suppose to be "Connecting ...
3
votes
4answers
108 views

Is it possible to use “demotivate” with something not related to studying or job?

The question is in the title. Actually, I need something of a synonym to "disencourage" and "demotivate" was the first word that came to my mind. Also, if it's possible to use "demotivate" with ...
1
vote
3answers
471 views

How bad is the use of “n***er” today?

If I call a Black person "nigger", how bad is this today? If a Black calls another Black with this word, is it wrong?
1
vote
1answer
49 views

Is “claimer” primarily a term for a customer notorious for their frivolous complaints?

In Japanese this English loanword is being used in this way, and I am curious as to whether the usage is technically correct. While I realize that in English the definition of "claimer" extends ...
2
votes
2answers
27k views

When to use “in the last year”, “last year” and “in the past year”?

I'm curious about the differences between "in the last year", "in the past year" and "last year". I went to NY in the past year Last year I went to NY. In the last year I went to NY (This sounds ...
2
votes
1answer
87 views

Is it possible to “revenge” a situation?

From the usage I am familiar with, it sounds strange to use "revenge" as a verb by itself. I am used to hearing it together with another word, such as "get revenge" or "take revenge". My dictionary ...
2
votes
1answer
288 views

Can a person be “overly literal”

It's common to say someone is being overly literal if their interpretation of a phrase is too strictly literal either intentionally (nitpickers) or unintentionally (people learning another language). ...
0
votes
0answers
59 views

Mark Twain and the tenses

Maybe I'm being too pedantic for my own good, but here's the thing. There is in Mark Twain's short story titled Journalism in Tennessee a passage in which, if you take a good close look, the simple ...
1
vote
1answer
92 views

run out on someone (meaning be used up)

The intransitive multi-word verb run out meaning be used up is well known. The transitive multi-word verb run out on meaning {OALD}: run out on somebody (informal) to leave somebody that ...
0
votes
2answers
177 views

In the sentence below, is the verb 'render' used correctly?

Consider the sentence: What matters is to render the idea from the field of theory into practice. Could the verb render be replaced by the verb translate without changing the meaning? Which is ...
2
votes
3answers
155 views

Dragons are “fantastic” creatures or “fantastical” creatures?

If I'm discussing fantasy as a genre, and I want to describe a noun as fitting that genre, should I call it fantastic or fantastical? It seems both words exist in (say) Merriam-Webster, but the -al ...
1
vote
4answers
118 views

Usage of the word “submittal”

It it appropriate to use the word submittal as follows? The report is ready for submittal. Or, is it better to just say: The report is ready to be submitted.
1
vote
2answers
94 views

Further explanation of “among others”

I know that "among others" is used when we mention one or more than one person. But still, I am a little confused. For example: "Among others, Adam and Smith supported me at the meeting." (I am ...
4
votes
2answers
99 views

Can the word, “OK’er,” be used in other area than copy editing?

I recently heard the word,’OK’er” in the New Yorker’s Live video, in which Mary Norris, New Yorker’s copy editor and author of "How I proofread my way to Philip Roth’s heart,” “Between You & Me on ...
0
votes
1answer
55 views

Can “the day after tomorrow” be used as an adverb?

I've come across this expression while having a conversation over the phone with a native English speaking friend. However, I am not sure if he said "at the day after tomorrow" or "the day after ...
0
votes
0answers
32 views

How wide is singular “they” being used? [duplicate]

One might want to use a generic pronoun, that doesn't specify the gender of the person. Although "he" can be used in such case, they decide that "he" still reflect the history time when male was ...
1
vote
3answers
19k views

Why does “Please approve it” sound wrong?

Whenever I read an email like this, the English sounds incorrect to me. "I would like to take tomorrow off. Please approve it." I want to say that "Please approve" is more natural, but why is that?