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

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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: ...
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3answers
198 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 ...
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1answer
2k 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. ...
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3answers
752 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) ...
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1answer
108 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?
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3answers
208 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 ...
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2answers
463 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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1answer
88 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 ...
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1answer
144 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'?
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1answer
1k 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 ...
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1answer
387 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 ...
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3answers
4k 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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2answers
53 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
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2answers
248 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
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1answer
6k 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; ...
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1answer
97 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 ...
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4answers
152 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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1answer
59 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.
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3answers
165 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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4answers
626 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.
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1answer
271 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), ...
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3answers
402 views

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

I came across the phrase “a State Department spokesperson had walked back his (John Kerry’s) comments in the Time magazine’s (August 2) article titled, “Oops: John Kerry gaffes, Washington ...
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1answer
388 views

Comma or no comma before “only”?

Sample phrase: Use the item for those purposes, only. vs. Use the item for those purposes only.
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4answers
386 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.
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1answer
81 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 ...
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2answers
98 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
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1answer
373 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 ...
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3answers
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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 ...
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1answer
419 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 ...
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1answer
33 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
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1answer
487 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 ...
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63 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 ...
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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 ...
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2answers
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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 ...
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2answers
309 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 ...
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260 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 ...
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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 ...
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0answers
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“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?
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1answer
66 views

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

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

“Of which I am unaware of” & “I don't know”, semantic difference

While reading first few chapters of fascinating book "On Writing Well", this doubt struck my mind: "There are many great English writings of which I am unaware of" OR "There are many great ...
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2answers
171 views

Origin of the phrase “tell me when”

Growing up in my family, we would often use the phrase "tell me when" when serving each other food, pouring drinks, etc. For example, my mother would begin pouring me a glass of milk and say "tell me ...
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1answer
385 views

May I have some examples of “future perfect continuous” from fiction or literature, with references? [closed]

Question says it all and again it should be from literature or fiction. I was told that the future perfect continuous does not exist. So I am looking for examples from “real published and acclaimed ...
3
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1answer
98 views

What does “the hardware” a Japanese moviemaker took home after being awarded the Jury prize at Cannes Film Festival mean?

Japan Times (May 28) reported that Hirokazu Koreeda, movie director won the Jury Prize at 2013 Cannes Film Festival. The article titled, “Director Koreeda wins Jury Prize in Cannes begins with the ...
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2answers
66 views

Using “decrease by” and percents

I just read an article which described congestion on a particular line in Japan. Currently the trains are running at 200% capacity, but larger trains were introduced and "the crowding was reduced by ...
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3answers
6k views

“kindly requested” vs “requested kindly” & “provide with us” vs “provide us with”

I am a contracts engineer working in the construction industry in the Middle East. A part of my job description is to manage official correspondence with the client. I am not a native English speaker, ...
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At what point does a phrase's definition start to actually mean its incorrect popular usage? [duplicate]

I am constantly correcting people when they use they say "this begs the question" incorrectly intending to suggest that some other assertion requires more information, rather than to point out that ...
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1answer
1k views

Confusion in using “due to”

I usually meet "due to" usage in a document or conversation, but in different ways. I did some research and found out that "due to" is adjectival. Thus, the correct sentence should be: The ...
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0answers
98 views

Influence of the regulatory bodies in the English language [closed]

Where could I find/read about studies about the influence in English of the lack of regulatory bodies of its use and lexicon? It is easy to google and find long arguments on the topic. I am ...
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2answers
283 views

Consistency to, or consistency in?

Let’s say I’ve written an article that contains an argument or analysis, and I want to ask someone to check it for consistency. I want to use the word ‘consistency’ here (rather than other variations ...
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1answer
261 views

Can “Any Other Business” be generally perceived, and used as the legit business terms?

I was interested in the fact that the first letter of the each word of “Any Other Business” is shown in the upper case in the following sentence: “At the first meeting of the new bard, Townsend ...