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

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8
votes
4answers
14k views

“How about” vs. “What about”

Is there a difference between starting a question with "How about" and "What about"? Can we use both expressions interchangeably?
7
votes
4answers
6k views

“He has yet to” vs. “he is yet to”

He has yet to receive an appointment. He is yet to receive an appointment. Is there any difference in meaning? Is one more correct than the other?
22
votes
9answers
4k views

Do the words “jail” and “prison” refer to different things?

In everyday speech, the terms jail and prison are used interchangeably in many situations. However, my understanding is that, at least in the US, they actually refer to slightly different things. For ...
18
votes
5answers
3k views

Are there any words I can use to disambiguate “biweekly”?

We have two words for events occurring in periods of years - biannual meaning twice a year, and biennial meaning once every two years. However, my colleagues talk about having meetings biweekly. This ...
17
votes
7answers
2k views

Is “penultimate” commonly used? [closed]

Is penultimate commonly used in English, or are its variations (such as second to last) more common? I need to use it in conjunction with the expressions First Payment Date and Last Payment Date to ...
17
votes
3answers
13k views

“Maximum” vs. “maximal”

What is the difference in usage between maximum and maximal? When would you use one or the other? Maximum can be a noun or an adjective: This is the maximum it can be set to. This is the ...
14
votes
2answers
4k views

How popular is ‘Contrafibularities’ as a day-to-day English word?

I found the phrase “My sincerest contrafibularities, Tim” given to one of the comments to my question about the word, 'Cromulent' in EL&U site. As I was totally unfamiliar with the word, ...
14
votes
6answers
4k views

What is the correct form of address for a police officer?

How should one address a police officer in English speaking countries? More specifically, in a non-emergency situation—asking directions for example—what is the expected form of address used to call a ...
14
votes
3answers
7k views

“Sick” or “ill”?

If I'm not healthy, am I sick or am I ill? Are these interchangeable, or do they merely overlap?
12
votes
8answers
10k views

Do native English speakers use the word “touristic”?

A word usage that always annoys me and feels like Euroenglish to me is "touristic". I don't believe I've ever seen it printed or heard it used by a native English speaker and I've travelled in most ...
11
votes
3answers
46k views

Should I use “everyone's”, “everyones'” or “everyones”?

I have the following sentence: Joe got everyone's attention and started to speak. Should it be everyone's, everyones' or everyones?
10
votes
7answers
19k views

What is a respectful way to refer to a person who has died?

What is a respectful way to refer to a person who has died? Is it OK to call that person "rest in peace"? The rest in peace guy was a very generous man.
7
votes
6answers
4k views

Is there a specific word for describing a person who gets lost easily?

When we travel around, some people get lost much more easily than others, since they cannot remember directions correctly. Is there any specific word for these kind of people?
6
votes
2answers
29k views

“Congratulation” vs. “congratulations”

Congratulation vs. congratulations — which one to use? How/when?
5
votes
1answer
9k views

“Answer to the question” vs. “answer for the question” vs. “answer of the question”

The answer to the question. The answer for the question. The answer of the question. Which is grammatical? What are the differences? And what is the preferred usage?
4
votes
4answers
3k views

What's the difference between 'allow' and 'allow for'?

To be precise, I know that allow means to permit, and allow for is more like to make something possible, to enable, to make a provision for, but I'm still in doubt when I have to decide whether to use ...
4
votes
2answers
8k views

“Can” vs. “could” in asking a question [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When do I use “can” or “could”? I am a little bit confused about asking a question: Can you please tell me my next work? or Could you please tell me my next ...
17
votes
1answer
9k views

Ones or one's: Which is the correct usage?

I've been confused about this as long as I can remember. Should it be: One should do ones duty. or One should do one's duty. I'm guessing it should be the latter. But that doesn't sit well ...
16
votes
4answers
23k views

“Can hardly wait” versus “can't hardly wait”

This has been bothering me for a while and I'm finally at a forum where I feel like I might get an answer. I have heard people say "I can hardly wait for summer to get here" and I've also heard "I ...
14
votes
12answers
10k views

What is the difference between “quicker” and “faster”?

What is the correct word to use here and why: I will get there quicker [than you] vs. I will get there faster [than you] There must be similar adverbs for "slower".
14
votes
8answers
3k views

How should I describe a woman who serves food and drinks on a plane?

When I want to speak of a woman who serves food and drinks to passengers on a plane, should I use 'air hostess' or 'stewardess'? What's the difference? And when I take a plane, how should I call her?
12
votes
5answers
3k views

Is it “close-minded” or “closed-minded”?

This good answer ended up with a lot of comments about whether the phrase is "close-minded" or "closed-minded." Since this debate seems to have reasonable arguments on both sides, I thought a new ...
12
votes
6answers
12k views

Which is the correct spelling: “fairy” or “faerie”?

Fairy vs. faerie — which is the correct spelling?
11
votes
3answers
7k views

“Amount” vs. “number” vs. “quantity”

For what values of x does one write the number of x, the amount of x, or the quantity of x?
11
votes
6answers
1k views

“Fluids” versus “liquids”?

What is the difference between fluid and liquid? I'm thinking of this in the context of drink plenty of fluids.
11
votes
4answers
2k views

“Ironic” vs “ironical”

I just read something where a phrase was described as ironical. To me the word ironical jars terribly. It just doesn't sound right at all. I would have said ironic. Is ironical a feature of American ...
11
votes
4answers
2k views

Can “real” be used as an adverb to describe an adjective?

Is this correct? That is a real cool answer. I learned that that was incorrect, since "real" is an adjective which can describe a noun, e.g. "real answer" but it is not an adverb which can ...
10
votes
3answers
4k views

“She is gone” versus “she has gone”

When should I say "She is gone", and when should I say "She has gone" (and why)? I think that when I mean "She went away and she's still there", it should be "She has gone". Are there exceptions ...
10
votes
1answer
667 views

Is there a rule in preposition-using?

Like the title, I randomly checked my son's textbook one day and found out some interesting things, like: "I'm on a bus," "I'm in a car," "I'm on a scooter," "I'm on a skateboard," "I'm on a bike," ...
10
votes
8answers
13k views

“Forgot” vs “Forget”

Is the following correct, or is there more to it? "I forgot his name" — I knew his name, but I forgot it. "I forget his name" — I keep forgetting his name. Where using "forget" basically means that ...
10
votes
5answers
8k views

When would you say “woods”, and when would you say “forest”?

Is there any difference here at all?
9
votes
2answers
11k views

What's the difference between 'cutlery', 'silverware' and 'crockery'?

What's the difference between 'cutlery', 'silverware' and 'crockery'? Are there any differences between them?
8
votes
2answers
1k views

Is there such a thing as a “pre-anniversary”? Or a better word?

I suddenly find myself trying to describe a date that's an exact number of years before a scheduled event and I can't think of a better word to describe it than "pre-anniversary" or maybe even ...
7
votes
3answers
1k views

Which is grammatically correct: “Let he who…” or “Let him who…”

Let he who believes in this prophet speak now what he knows. Let him who believes in this prophet speak now what he knows.
7
votes
5answers
40k views

Usage of 'Dear All'

Is it correct to use "Dear All" at the beginning of the e-mail, when you are writing to more than one person? It seems so informal to me. Is there any better way?
7
votes
7answers
2k views

Incorrect grammar versus different dialects

My girlfriend, someone from southern New Jersey, constantly says phrases like "I'm done my homework" or "I'm done my dinner." I try to correct her and say, "I'm done with my homework" or "I'm done ...
7
votes
3answers
6k views

Should I say “Your order is now complete” or “Your order is now completed”?

When a user finishes an order on my website, what's the correct way? Your order is now complete. Your order is now completed.
6
votes
2answers
33k views

“Angry with” vs. “angry at” vs. “angry on”

Which is the most appropriate/correct usage? Are you angry on me? Are you angry with me? Are you angry at me?
5
votes
4answers
1k views

“He was the first person” vs. “he is the first person”

What is the correct tense to be used when talking about firsts? He was the first person to reach the South Pole. He is the first person to reach the South Pole. The first one seems right, ...
5
votes
2answers
12k views

“Expected of” vs. “expected from”

It is expected of/from you to find the solution. Such rude behavior was not expected of/from you. I am quite sure that from is the correct usage in both cases, but of could be used in the ...
5
votes
2answers
597 views

How acceptable is “fully fledged” as opposed to “full-fledged”?

As a native speaker of English, I had never heard the "fully" version until recently. Now I seem to hear it a lot, but only from non-native speakers. Are the two equally acceptable in semi-formal ...
5
votes
1answer
12k views

Is there any difference in meaning between 'efficacy' and 'efficiency'? [closed]

I feel that there is a subtle difference in meaning between 'efficacy' and 'efficiency', but I couldn't find any authoritative sources that could help me confirm or refute this. Is there any ...
5
votes
4answers
11k views

“Too serious” vs “too seriously”

I know the vast majority of people say "Don't take yourself too seriously", as found correct by basically every native speaker I've asked about this (often accompanied by incredulous looks). What ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

Did she judge him “wrong” or “wrongly”?

Which one is the correct use? She judged him wrong. She judged him wrongly. Or, are both correct, but have slightly different meanings?
4
votes
2answers
11k views

Which is correct: “another think coming” or “another thing coming”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What is the origin of the phrase “you've got another thing/think coming”? Which is correct: "another think coming" or "another thing coming"? I have ...
3
votes
5answers
249 views

“The lyrics to the song” vs. “the lyrics of the song”

Do you remember the lyrics to the song? Do you remember the lyrics of the song? I'm more familiar with the second sentence using the "of". But what I don't know is, how would you ...
3
votes
1answer
1k views

“Go XXX” or “go to XXX”

Sometimes I see go XXX (go home) and sometimes go to XXX (go to school, go to work). Is there any specific rule about this?
3
votes
2answers
5k views

Correct use of “consist”

Which one of the following two sentences is correct? We are only concerned with crystal systems which consist of an inversion center. We are only concerned with crystal systems which consist ...
3
votes
1answer
307 views

“To service” vs. “to serve”

I seem vaguely to recall that a long time ago, servicing was something a bull did to a heifer or a boar to a sow. But it seems to be creeping in to general usage as a synonym for serving. Has anyone ...
2
votes
2answers
11k views

“Call on” or “call at” or something else? Which is appropriate?

Which one of following sentence is correct? You can call me on my cell. You can call me at my cell. Or is there some other preposition? Or both are right?