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

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11
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1answer
631 views

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 ...
89
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13answers
129k 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 ...
14
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4answers
2k 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 ...
7
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3answers
3k 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 ...
4
votes
4answers
848 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', ...
0
votes
4answers
187 views

“woman” or “women” as a stand-in for the adjective “female”? [closed]

As in, Emily Dickinson was a great woman poet or Emily Dickinson was a great women poet in order to mean Emily Dickinson was a great female poet Think I may have seen this adjectival ...
0
votes
4answers
1k 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
116k views

When to use “respectively”? [duplicate]

I have been wondering what it means when people use "respectively" in, before, and after sentences. For example: We are looking for a babysitter to pick up and supervise our kids ages 6 and 3, ...
2
votes
2answers
3k 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) ...
0
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2answers
157 views

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 ...
-1
votes
2answers
3k 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
9k 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 ...
5
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4answers
2k views

How do I formally speak dates?

How are dates formally spoken? Are there any differences in the British and American versions?
4
votes
1answer
203 views

Is it grammatical to use “same” or “the same” in substitution for an objective pronoun?

I've seen and heard this usage of the pronoun "same" more than once, and it sounded strange to my ears: "Thank you for the book; I will return same shortly." "Wine production has increased, ...
3
votes
1answer
1k views

Nationalities - When do we use the singular or plural form

I always have doubts whether to use a singular or a plural noun when I refer to certain peoples. For example, we say Americans, Italians, Brazilians, Russians and Austrians. But we say The British, ...
5
votes
3answers
13k views

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. ...
4
votes
2answers
3k 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!" ...
2
votes
3answers
4k 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 translation" (but some with ...
30
votes
8answers
6k 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
32k views

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 ...
5
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3answers
1k views

Is there a term/word for using an incorrect homophone

What would you call the following: Speak now or forever hold your piece.
3
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6answers
6k views

When would you say “I seen it.”

I am not looking for explanations of why "I seen it" is wrong (though with sight there's an unfair grammatical burden that doesn't impact the other senses, whose past tense and past participle are the ...
22
votes
6answers
4k 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
919 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 ...
4
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4answers
2k views

“there doesn't seem” vs. “there don't seem”

As an example, consider the two sentences: There don't seem to be any doctors here. and There doesn't seem to be any doctors here. To my ear, the first sounds great, and the second is ...
4
votes
7answers
2k 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
356 views

Are there any universal rules in appropriating “_an,” “_sh,” “_es,” “_ch” for the demonyms of countries? [duplicate]

Suffixes indicating people and language of country vary by country: _an: American, German, Italian, Belgian, Australian, Russian, Ukrainian, Korean, Mexican, Brazilian, Chilean, Argentinean, ...
2
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2answers
3k 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 ...
2
votes
4answers
922 views

What special implication does ‘totally’ have in “He’s totally going to call you”?

There was the following sentence in an article titled, “Like, Degrading the Language? No Way” in New York Times (April 5), in which the author says Americans are moving backward on language: ...
0
votes
1answer
256 views

Disinterested vs. uninterested

I’ve always understood the difference between disinterested and uninterested as follows: uninterested: not interested, not up to it disinterested: impartial Consider the situation of someone ...
15
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8answers
11k views

When did the term “flip flop” displace the term “thong” in North America for a type of sandal?

To Australians like me "thong" means a kind of sandal such as recently repopularized by the Havaianas brand but we know it means a kind of G-string in other English-speaking parts of the world. To ...
8
votes
4answers
26k views

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 ...
3
votes
2answers
138 views

To write or to write to?

Is it correct to say "I wrote him" or "I wrote to him"? My Mother was a stickler for English grammar and would say "I wrote your Uncle..." rather than "I wrote to your Uncle..."
2
votes
2answers
227 views

“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 ...
2
votes
1answer
3k 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
269 views

Pronoun usage and conjugation [closed]

Why do we say 'I am a teacher' instead of 'I is a teacher' when 'I' is a singular pronoun?
1
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2answers
74 views

Where does “pay through the nose” originate? [closed]

Where does the saying " pay through the nose" originate?
1
vote
3answers
281 views

What dialect is “I be doing this”?

In which part of the world do people use sentences like "I be doing this" (missing out the 'will' after the 'I')? Sounds like some of the 'street-ghetto' to me. What is it exactly?
0
votes
0answers
30 views

An adjustable shelf of long lengths is used to take various sizes of packs [duplicate]

An adjustable shelf of long lengths is used to take various sizes of packs. Is this sentence correct? Refence:grage 11 English textbook(Burma)
0
votes
2answers
330 views

To see them play and to see them playing

Excuse my limited acquaintance on English usage; which sentence is grammatically correct, and if any, which meaning do they convey to ? I saw them play chess. I saw then playing chess. Many ...
0
votes
1answer
153 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
2k 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.
-1
votes
2answers
1k views

“What I have to do is” + verb inf [duplicate]

I'm confused about the following examples, and I'm pretty sure I've seen both of them in books and white papers. What I have to do is find her. What I have to do is to find her. What I would like to ...
65
votes
9answers
12k views

Why is the word “Holy” used before swear words?

People usually use the word "Holy" before "Shit", "Crap" or any other bad words to express their feelings, like surprise, anger, etc. Is there any reason why the word "Holy" is used with these bad ...
25
votes
8answers
8k 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 ...
17
votes
9answers
4k views

Is “layman” an offensive term?

Is it offensive to use the term layman nowadays? Does it insinuate that the people to whom you are referring are uneducated? I am wanting to say This is just one of the ways that CERN's research ...
9
votes
5answers
10k 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
826 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, ...
4
votes
3answers
3k views

Why “like doing something” or “like to do something” but only “dislike doing something”?

At a further education course for teachers, in Switzerland, (given by two native speakers of English), someone came up with the question of whether you could say "dislike doing something" and "dislike ...
13
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8answers
1k 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 ...