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

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Data is/are in a global context

I have been commissioned to script a series of brief videos on the importance of data accuracy and consistency. The videos are directed to employees of a company with offices around the ...
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3answers
1k views

When is it appropriate to use “scare quotes”?

For example, is putting scare quotes around "scare quotes" appropriate? Wikipedia says the term means usage of quote marks "to indicate that [a word or phrase] does not signify its literal or ...
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3answers
2k views

English usage: Every vs all?

Today I was writing a simple message to be shown to the user whenever at least one field was not supplied. Every/All fields must be supplied. I'm in doubt about the usage of Every vs All, which ...
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13answers
44k views

When should “no problem” replace “you're welcome” as a response to “thank you”?

I have observed a growing trend in which people substitute "no problem" for "you're welcome" as a response to "thank you". In particular, it seems to be an increasingly common response from servers ...
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2answers
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The occurrence of comparative degree

I've checked in LGWSE by Douglas Biber, Stig Johannson et al (2004) but failed to find the explanation as to what the cases of usage of the comparative degree are. In all Russian grammar texbooks of ...
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2answers
2k views

In Moderation, In Revision

1 The forum comments are under moderation. 2 The forum comments are in moderation. 3 The book is in revision. 4 The book is under revision. Could 1 & 2 be the same? Could 3 & 4 be the same ...
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4answers
962 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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1answer
5k views

“Thus” vs. “Thusly”

I read an article that used "thusly" and was wondering if there is any grammatical credence to it. The quote: The issue started when Sokolowski quickly ran out of storage capacity in his 32GB ...
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2answers
657 views

Why is “Good Night!” dismissive

To start off let us construct a situation were I am walking along and I pass another person. Depending on the time of day and to be polite I say one of the following: "Good Morning!" "Good Evening!" ...
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3answers
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Cause for vs cause of

I read this sentence somewhere today, but I think that the of would fit better here than for, don't you think? The cause for the original problem will be analysed in the normal maintenance hours. ...
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2answers
592 views

Correct usage of 'but for'?

Does 'but for' mean: 'If we had X (but we didn't), Y would have been the consequence'? Or can it also mean; because we had X, as a result Y happened? Some different examples of but for: (Case 1) ...
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3answers
623 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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4answers
436 views

Which is more common - 'the most' or 'most'?

A thing I have never had the time to look more closely into. But I find both variants: What I love most is ... or What I love the most is ... I think the more common form is 'the most', ...
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4answers
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Origin of current slang usage of the word 'sick' to mean 'great'? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How and why have some words changed to a complete opposite? How did 'sick' come to mean 'awesome' or 'really good / cool' in modern U.S. slang? I'm interested in origins ...
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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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1answer
459 views

How do you use “knack” in a sentence?

On this post here, it says: Another word which comes to my mind is "Knack". It can be used to show how someone has a specific talent. Again as an example - Tim is good with musical ...
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1answer
1k views

Is “to” inclusive in “I worked at company X from April 2012 to April 2013”? [duplicate]

I have a question about the use of the word to as a time proposition. Is to inclusive in the following sentence? I worked at company X from April 2012 to April 2013.
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3answers
538 views

There is (there's) vs.There are

What are the roots of the creeping usage of "there's" for both singular and plural predicates? (This seems to be more common in spoken English.) I have 2 theories. Perhaps it is because spoken ...
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8answers
6k views

“When I was in college…” Do you really mean college? Or university?

When someone in the US says "When I was in college..." he can mean "college" but he can also mean "university", so I've been told. If that's true, how can we know which one he is talking about? If I ...
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8answers
5k views

Why do Americans add “The” in front of a team name, but the British do not?

I'm not certain that there is an answer to this one: Americans refer to our teams as The Example: The New York Yankees The British in my experience do not. Example: Manchester United I ...
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6answers
3k views

Are “Fish in a barrel” and “Sitting ducks” similar?

Do the phrases "Fish in a barrel" and "Sitting ducks" convey the same thing? In my opinion, they have the same tone and express something to be an easy target. Eg: Out there, they are just fish in ...
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7answers
450 views

Why doesn't English have a separate word for “head hair”? (head hair vs. body hair)

The answer can be "Because it doesn't!" or "It wasn't needed!" in short but there might be a historical or linguistic explanation behind this. (Of course, every language might be lacking a word that ...
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2answers
980 views

What is the exact meaning of “blood-dimmed (tragedy),” and how does it pass current among Anglophones?

I was drawn to the word, “blood-dimmed tragedy” in the following statement of Maureen Dowd’s article titled, “Peeping Barry” in June 8 New York Times: You could see the fear in his eyes, the fear ...
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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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2answers
129 views

Geometric or Geometrical?

I have read the excellent answers to Why is it "geometric" but "theoretical" - my question is specifically about usage. Is there a best practice for deciding between the variants "geometric" and ...
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2answers
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Was vs had been

I guess this question has been asked before, but please take a look the following sentence and tell me if there is a difference between them. When the transaction had been completed, A was still a ...
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322 views

“Baby is creeping” vs. “baby is crawling” in AmE

Years and years ago, I remember reading in a book on AmE usage that the phrasal turn a baby creeps before it walks was to some extent more common to AmE than to BrE, which preferred exclusively the ...
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7answers
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Another meaning of the vulgar word “slut”

I guess people who speak American and Philippine English will unanimously agree that the word "slut" is a very offensive term referring to a promiscuous woman. However, Merriam-Webster and Oxford ...
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5answers
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“Hello” as a verb

A dictionary says that Hello could be a verb, noun and interjection. I'm not sure I saw it to be a verb though. Q: Could someone provide an example of 'hello' where it's used as verb. In the meaning ...
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1answer
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“I can't help it.” Why help?

Why do we use the verb help in sentences such as the following to mean something like refrain from? I try not to eat junk, but I can't help it. I couldn't help laughing. I can't help but admire her ...
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5answers
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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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451 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 ...
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4answers
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“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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214 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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4answers
931 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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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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1answer
48 views

What principle guides word combinations with “almost”?

I am trying to explain to non-native speakers how to use "almost." I can't formulate (a) rule(s) to follow with regard to nouns/pronouns. So far, my only ideas are that almost can be collocated only ...
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1answer
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Fall Hard For Something

I am trying to find the right definition of "hard" in this piece of writing: newspaper Looking for a tranquil hideaway after years as a paparazzi magnet, Mr. Frazier bought the single-level ...
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2answers
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 ...
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2answers
179 views

When did “by way of” start meaning “originally from”

Some years ago, after returning to New York from some years living abroad, I began to notice New Yorkers of a certain generation (in their 20s and early 30s) describing themselves or others as "from ...
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5answers
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Do readers think of the word “ejaculate” beyond its common sexual meaning? [closed]

I am an editor, and a poet whom I work with has included the expression "I ejaculated little prayers" in one of his stanzas, which we all know has the dictionary meaning of "intensely calling out." ...
3
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5answers
271 views

Word for inability to think in certain ways

Am looking for a word that loosely means inability to think in certain ways. For example, for lyricists (or writers) lyrics come so naturally, but for non-lyricists it's very difficult to think how ...
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2answers
4k 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 ...
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4answers
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What is the difference between “check something” and “check on something”

For example if in answer to the question, "what time does the shop close?" a tourist information officer might say, "I'll check on that for you." Why wouldn't they say, "I'll check that for you."?
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2answers
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“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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3answers
301 views

Is there any difference between “word-for-word translation” and “word-by-word translation” and is the latter actually valid?

First off, some data: According to COCA "word-for-word" has 60 usages, 3 of them are "word-for-word translation". "Word-by-word" has 26 usages, none of them are "word-by-word" (but some with ...
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“At all” in w-questions

I don't know how to say it but "at all" used in yes or no questions has a specific function. I would maybe call it "asking for a basic reality" but I don'T know if that makes sense to anyone. Do ...
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1answer
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Should I say “I make a living by teaching” or “I make a living teaching”? Which one is correct? Is the preposition 'by' necessary?

I am confused about the correct usage of the phrasal verb, 'make a living'. I don't know whether I should add the preposition 'by' at the end of it. I looked up several dictionaries, most of which ...
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0answers
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Usage of `é` (e-acute) [closed]

As a French person, I am always amused by the usage of the letter é in English. For instance: fiancé café résumé touché (coulé) Pokémon (yup, that's a good one) This letter, though very common in ...
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1answer
76 views

Phrase: 'cited after'

I don't understand what's the meaning of "cited after" in books, when they cite a source, e.g., (cited after Manin 1997: 3)