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

learn more… | top users | synonyms

10
votes
1answer
402 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
1k 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 ...
-1
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
64
votes
13answers
21k 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 ...
9
votes
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 ...
5
votes
4answers
808 views

How do I formally speak dates?

How are dates formally spoken? Are there any differences in the British and American versions?
3
votes
1answer
3k 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
464 views

Is there a term/word for using an incorrect homophone

What would you call the following: Speak now or forever hold your piece.
4
votes
4answers
325 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', ...
6
votes
4answers
11k 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
3answers
4k 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. ...
2
votes
1answer
134 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 ...
22
votes
6answers
2k 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 ...
12
votes
2answers
767 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 ...
4
votes
4answers
778 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 ...
15
votes
7answers
3k views

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 ...
13
votes
5answers
951 views

“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 ...
11
votes
1answer
3k views

“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 ...
10
votes
5answers
855 views

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 ...
7
votes
3answers
293 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
167 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
581 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 ...
5
votes
4answers
783 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?
4
votes
1answer
640 views

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 ...
4
votes
2answers
385 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
267 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!" ...
3
votes
5answers
215 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 ...
3
votes
4answers
2k views

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."?
3
votes
2answers
20k views

“Is equal to” or “equals” [closed]

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.
2
votes
2answers
59 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
190 views

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 ...
1
vote
1answer
144 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 ...
1
vote
0answers
78 views

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 ...
1
vote
1answer
46 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)
1
vote
2answers
479 views

How to correctly use double quotation marks at the end of a sentence? [duplicate]

Group A: This is so-called "Moon Cake." // The period is inside the double quatation marks This is so-called "Moon Cake". // The period is outside the double quatation marks I know the ...
1
vote
2answers
542 views

Does ‘sugarplum’ have the meaning of ‘honey’ or ‘sweetie’?

There is the following advice for ‘defusing an argument with one word’ in a website: In an argument in which the fight systems are fully armed you need to provide an abrupt interruption. Have a ...
1
vote
1answer
94 views

Which expression is older: “London Royal Parks” or “London's Royal Parks” ? And why is it Hyde Park and not Hyde's Park?

London Royal Parks and London's Royal Parks Both phrases are used, and I understand that "London" in the first example is acting as an adjective. Whereas in the second, "London", is used ...
1
vote
1answer
819 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.
0
votes
2answers
44 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
185 views

Are “I will have been going” and “I would have been going” rarely used today?

As far as I know these are tenses that you do not often use. Am I right? Will have been + verb+ing Would have been + verb+ing
0
votes
2answers
979 views

What's the difference between “if” and “whether”? [duplicate]

Using whether is far more common. It is certainly more formal. I would like to know whether it is a true story or fabricated. But we can use if as well in the same sentence. I would like ...
0
votes
1answer
82 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
290 views

Under which cases should an article (a/an/the) not be used? [duplicate]

The current machine has been repaired. Current machine has been repaired. Which is more natural? What are the subtle differences between them? Under which cases should an article ...
0
votes
1answer
503 views

Explaining the comparative form of “numb” [closed]

The most common definition I have of numb is: "Deprived of the power of sensation." "Deprived of feeling or responsiveness." These definitions show up in nearly the same form in multiple ...
0
votes
3answers
186 views

Is it possible for the words “exorbitantly grateful” to be interpreted as a bad thing? (or over the top)

Normally I use the word exorbitantly to describe an excess in a negative sense, however this time I used it to express an abundance of appreciation and gratitude. Could a critical reading of "I am ...
0
votes
1answer
87 views

Is it correct to write “backup” as a noun? [closed]

I was about to create a folder to keep an archive my important files in. This question got stuck in my mind while renaming it. How do I have to rename that folder? Back up Backup Back-up Are all ...
-1
votes
1answer
74 views

Possessive Ambiguity: sharing a house [closed]

Could this: Jason shared Michael's house. be an acceptable shortened version of this: Jason shared Michael's house with Michael. ?
-1
votes
2answers
612 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 ...
-1
votes
2answers
961 views

Complaint of vs Complaint for [closed]

Another one of vs for question, here for would be the right choice, because its use denotes the function of purpose as I think it's the case here, right ? When customers complaint of an error ...
-2
votes
1answer
63 views

Still Be Covered [on hold]

I am confused about the meaning of the third step in this: link 1 "Whenever you sign in to Google you'll enter your username and password as usual. " 2 "Then, you'll be asked for a code that ...