This tag is for questions about choosing the best word from a given selection for a particular context or meaning.

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71
votes
14answers
26k views

When should I use “a” vs “an”?

In the following example, is it appropriate to use a or an as the indefinite article, and why? He ate __ green apple. I know that in the case of just "apple", it would be "an apple," but I've ...
8
votes
3answers
3k views

Referring to adult-age sons and daughters as children

Is it normal to refer to adult-age sons and daughters of someone as children? A native speaker of Arabic learning English has said that in Arabic, the word for sons and daughters is "أولاد" (awlaad) ...
-1
votes
5answers
239 views

How to say “write a program” in a proper way for thesis/dissertation

I am in dilemma on how to open a short text, that is giving instructions to someone to write a computer program. The setting is academic/research and that text will appear in opening paragraph on a ...
-1
votes
0answers
67 views

Is it rude to call a Lord, sir?

Just a random thought I had... if you were speaking to, e.g. Lord Sugar, and he asked you something, to which you responded: Yes sir Would that be impolite? Usually it would be polite to call ...
3
votes
4answers
76 views

Is there a word meaning “easy to misidentify”?

It seems like there is a word for this, and the sense is not exactly "hard to identify" but specifically "easy to misidentify". If no such word exists, a word for "hard to identify" could suffice.
0
votes
2answers
106 views

Unfollowed or non followed?

What is the opposite of a followed link? Is it an unfollowed link (Google says spelling error) or non followed link (sounds clumsy - possibly needs a hyphen)?
6
votes
5answers
349 views

What is a note that gives a preliminary information before the main part called?

I'm looking for a single word (if not, a natural phrase) for a note that you write before starting the main article/part/question etc. It can give a preliminary information (in general). However, it ...
2
votes
1answer
113 views

Information unavailable to the audience

What is it called when a character knows something the audience doesn't? For example, if the character was stating something obvious like "today is your birthday", saying it only to inform the ...
0
votes
2answers
46 views

‘Influence’ vs. ‘effect’ [on hold]

Johnson has a lot of influence on film producers. He is intellectual. Should I replace influence with effects?
2
votes
1answer
71 views

Is there one word for a technique that improves your concentration?

This is the sentence: It [Tratak] has a cleansing effect on the eyes, is concentrating and energizing. I want to correct "concentrating" and replace it with one word which means "increasing ...
2
votes
1answer
46 views

Is there a word or phrase for knowing what to say but not how to say it?

As kind of a real-life example, I'm struggling to write a description of the Crusades from the point of view of a Catholic pope. I know that through the Crusades, the Christians basically "rescued" ...
-1
votes
1answer
59 views

“You look like your brother” or “Your brother looks like you”? [closed]

My friends are always saying stuff like, "You look like your brother ," or "Your brother looks like you." My brother is 4 years younger than me and I really can't see the resemblance; but it got me ...
0
votes
1answer
35 views

The word for serial maternalists?

Consider the case where a woman goes from giving birth straight into pregnancy again and repeats the cycle. Say five children in 46 months. "She's a serial maternalist"? This doesn't sound right. ...
0
votes
1answer
49 views

Word like 'Start' and 'End' for 'inbetween/during'

Is there a word that is similar to 'start' and 'end' that means 'during'. I want to be able to say something like: I start, _____, and end the day with Nutella.
0
votes
0answers
24 views

Use of the word MUDITA as business name [closed]

Can the use of the word MUDITA as business name create sensitivity/ misunderstanding amongst certain religious/cultural groups?
5
votes
2answers
56 views

Difference between defray, sponsor, and fund?

What is the difference between defray, sponsor, and fund (all verbs)? For me, they are interchangeable: Oxford Dictionary: Defray: Provide money to pay (a cost or expense) The proceeds ...
0
votes
5answers
79 views

When should the words “usefulness” versus “utility” be used?

"Usefulness" and "utility" both mean nearly the same thing. Usefulness: the quality or fact of being useful. Utility: the state of being useful, profitable, or beneficial To me, the word ...
-1
votes
3answers
519 views

Words that change meaning when a letter is added/removed/changed

Want to know if there is a collective word to describe these kind of words that change their meanings in an opposite way (rather than irrelevantly) when a single letter is added/removed/changed so ...
-1
votes
0answers
53 views

I'll be curious

Just wondering if it is correct to say "I'll be curious to". For example, I used the sentence "I'll be curious to read them [the text messages] later". Do I actually mean to say "I am curious to read ...
0
votes
2answers
32 views

“Focal” or “focussing” exercises, when training the eyes to focus better?

When doing certain eye exercises, such as looking at the thumb as you bring it to your nose and as you move it away from your nose, can you call them "Focal exercises","Focussing exercises" or both?
0
votes
1answer
32 views

Indulge/Kill/Satisfy my curiosity

I have few questions for my customer and I want to say him that it is just my curiosity. What is the right sentence which I can use to deal with my customers so that they won't find it funny or ...
2
votes
2answers
108 views

Word for “gap between two dates”

By which word can I refer to the gap between two dates? Say, how can I better form the sentence below? She reduced the gap between the dates of taking tests. She used to take it one month and ...
2
votes
4answers
568 views

Expression for asking a question in a way that assumes a certain solution?

Especially (but not only) with technical problems, people often ask questions in a way that assumes a certain solution. For example: Where can I get a cheap taxi to the airport? But the person ...
0
votes
1answer
69 views

“Details on” or “Details about”? Use in technical writing

I'm writing a technical text about the information in a report, dealing with telecommunication procedures. I want to highlight that the information field I'm referring to doesn't provide any ...
1
vote
4answers
150 views

Reversal of Blacklisting

I'm curious to know if anyone know a word that describes the process of removing an item from a blacklist. For example if we replaced the word "blacklist" with "ban" the one would "Ban an object" and ...
19
votes
7answers
62k views

“Insecure” or “unsecure” when dealing with security?

Which is the appropriate word to be used in the sentence: The system we were testing was determined to be insecure/unsecure. The usage is in the context of security, specifically a lack ...
-3
votes
0answers
60 views

What is a term for an animal, place, thing, or person? [closed]

I know nouns are words that represent an animal, place, thing, or person, but not a single word that represents them themselves.
0
votes
0answers
20 views

Difference between “formatting” and “styling” when used with documents

For example one may say: "This document is well formatted" or "This document is well styled" - What are the differences here, if any? What about the task: "formatting" or "styling", are these usable ...
5
votes
3answers
12k views

“Exchanged with” vs. “exchanged for”

Is "exchanged with" grammatically correct and does it mean the same thing as "exchanged for?" "For" and "with" don't normally seem interchangeable, so these two phrases should be different, yet they ...
2
votes
2answers
8k views

What are the differences between “assumption” and “presumption”?

I was told the following: A presumption is something you think is true before you know any facts about the matter. An assumption is something you think is true when you miss information, but ...
2
votes
3answers
1k views

How to describe a person who loves a very cold environment (below 20°C)

Is there a word or two words that describes a person who loves to be in a very cold environment (e.g. below 20°C) and dislikes temperatures that are not very cold?
2
votes
1answer
58 views

Using “because”, “as”, or “since” when explaining the reason or relevance of something in an adverbial clause?

I have several units of information that I want to put into one, or two well-formed sentences: Our product previously only supported Type-X adapters (which are widely used). A few weeks ago the ...
2
votes
3answers
1k views

“Cash on me” vs. “cash with me”

I know you would normally say, "I don't have any cash on me". But would it be grammatically correct to say, "I don't have any cash with me"?
0
votes
1answer
38 views

Is “indifferent of” correct in this sentence? Is it ever correct? Should I replace it with something?

Is "indifferent of" correct in this sentence? Is it ever correct? Should I replace "of" with something? "In regards to hacking, do you approve, disapprove, or are you indifferent of the practice?" ...
-1
votes
1answer
149 views

Until, till, as long as [closed]

I will not go to the garden until my mother allows me I will not go to the garden as long as my mother doesn't allow me I will not go to the garden till my mother allows me: Are these sentences the ...
-1
votes
2answers
75 views

“These are [one/ones] of the foundations…” - which “one” should I use?

I'm having a hard time picking between These are one of the foundations of.... and These are ones of the foundations of.. Or is there a more idiomatic way to express it?
0
votes
2answers
924 views

“If a talk is [desirable/desired]” - which one to use?

If a talk is desirable/desired, I can drop by your office any time. Should I use desirable or desired here? Or some word else?
-1
votes
1answer
61 views

“The answer[s] to big problems…” - plural or singular? [closed]

The answer to big problems is always small solutions. or The answers to big problems are always small solutions. I believe these are both correct grammatically, but the singular ("is") ...
1
vote
0answers
83 views

Is there anything awkward in saying “ Prince Charles is now a husband”?

In my English class today my prof gave us a sentence: Prince Charles is now a husband. He then told us to find out if there is anything wrong with this sentence as our homework. Undoubtedly, ...
1
vote
1answer
37 views

how can Use the title 'Mr'

Use of titles in English language, can we use title Mr if we use the designation like Secretary Sports Mr Saleem Akhtar, etc, or we skip it. i am asking in reference to make a news report or news ...
5
votes
3answers
598 views

“What memory!” or “What a memory!”?

Even though the second one seems right, is the first one totally wrong? It sounds ok to me. Correct me if I am wrong. Please explain if possible. Thanks. :) Context: Someone recollects a proverb ...
4
votes
2answers
149 views

What is it called when a group of people forms a shape together?

There are great performances where a group of people, whether small or large, forms a shape or different shapes together; and you can usually see the shape from bird's eye view. It is usually like a ...
3
votes
4answers
1k views

“What a beautiful day” or “What the beautiful day”? And “why”?

Although we know that day which we are talking about, why don't we say "What the beautiful day!" instead of "What a beautiful day!" ? In addition, a friend of mine explained the following, but in my ...
6
votes
4answers
6k views

Use of “whatever” vs “whatsoever”

The city posts signs near my house that read: Dump no waste whatever The meaning is clear in context: don't dump any waste here. But the sign sounds incorrect. To me, it seems "whatever" ...
2
votes
3answers
121 views

What is a term for something unwanted but which cannot be ignored?

More specifically... What is a term for a problem between sides that has surfaced that one would pretend to have always been submerged yet cannot be ignored? For example, two sides always had ...
0
votes
0answers
33 views

Concise Way to Say “Small Tasks can be as Important as Big Tasks”

I need a concise way to explain this idea: Doing the small and easy tasks can be as noble (or more worthwhile) than doing the hard tasks. Examples: 100 people can be more effective by ...
0
votes
1answer
20 views

“Subject election” at college/university

I am wondering what is the name of process during which student chooses which subjects he/she going to attend to in next semester. After some thinking, "subject election" came to mind but somehow it ...
15
votes
3answers
6k views

Short Sleeves or Shirt Sleeves

I've always referred to a shirt that has short sleeves as a "short sleeve" shirt. However, I've also heard it be referred to as a "shirt sleeve" shirt or "wearing shirt sleeves." This seems like a ...
0
votes
2answers
69 views

Word for the fear of getting a haircut?

The other day I met someone who was scared of getting a haircut. I was trying to think of a word to describe, but I couldn't think of anything. I couldn't find anything online either, so I decided to ...
0
votes
1answer
20 views

Paternity vs. Paternal vs. Parental Leave [closed]

Which one is the most commonly used to describe a leave taken by a father in the United States?