This tag is for questions about correctly using a word.

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6
votes
4answers
1k views

Is this noun used as an adjective?

I read this recently in The Economist: At the end of the summit, the French and European officials had claimed a points victory over the Germans by getting them to agree more firmly to a ...
11
votes
6answers
6k views

Reason for the current trend to use «she» as the gender-neutral pronoun?

There are some questions on gender-neutral pronouns both here and on Writers. User Christine Letts writes: In academia, there is currently a movement toward using the feminine pronoun at all ...
19
votes
5answers
7k views

Usage of “many” vs “many a”?

Can someone please elucidate the difference between "many" and "many a"? In what context of usage should we add an extra "a" beside the word "many"? For example: Many times, I had seen that . ...
7
votes
3answers
26k views

“situation where” vs. “situation in which”

In my mother tongue I can use the word where not only to describe something connected to a location, but also to substitute in which. My question is: Is it correct to use where in a sentence like ...
107
votes
7answers
13k views

Can “doubt” sometimes mean “question”?

I often see questions on Stack Exchange sites which I presume are written by non-native English speakers who use the word "doubt" in place of the word "question". Is this a case of misunderstanding ...
6
votes
3answers
8k views

“At all” vs “Not at all” in negated sentences

If I say That makes sense to me. I would say definitively at all. That makes sense to me at all. But in the negated sentence I'm not sure. I've the feeling, that it is still at all. But if I say ...
7
votes
3answers
4k 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 ...
14
votes
5answers
11k views

How do I choose between “while” and “whilst”? [duplicate]

When should whilst be used instead of while? For example, should I use the first or the second sentence? They don't do this whilst they do that. They don't do this while they do that. Which ...
10
votes
7answers
29k views

What's an easy way to remember when to use “affect” or “effect”? [duplicate]

Is there an easy way to remember when to use the word affect or effect in a sentence? It is very confusing, and I still get them mixed up.
10
votes
4answers
107k views

“In school” vs “at school”

I sometimes get confused whether to use in or at. For example, Children were not at school yesterday, because yesterday was a holiday. Children were not in school yesterday, because yesterday ...
14
votes
8answers
39k views

If a person holds prejudice against people because of their nationality, would that be considered racist?

Would it be considered racist if a store owner believes all Canadians are thieves and does not let any Canadians into his store? Racism pertains to discriminating based on race, and (correct me if I'm ...
5
votes
2answers
175k 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, ...
7
votes
4answers
2k views

Why do some people say “the reason is is that,” with “is” twice in a row?

Does anybody have any conjectures as to why this quirk is so common? For an example, see this TED talk by Kevin Slavin.
2
votes
1answer
178 views

Leave something vs. forget something

Can you forget something somewhere? I expect that much more common is I have left my book at home. But, based on other languages where it is quite common (and based on the fact that I somehow ...
0
votes
1answer
332 views

Show I use “lay,” “laid,” or “lain” in the following passage? [closed]

The ground was ice-cold, no hint of anyone having lay/laid/lain there at all. Which one is the correct option?
20
votes
4answers
2k views

Can I use “US-American” to disambiguate “American”? If not, what can I use?

Based on this question, I wonder: as an alternative to USAian (which is very nonstandard) is it OK to use US-American to more clearly indicate "inhabitant of the USA"? According to Google Ngram, this ...
19
votes
10answers
13k views

How should “deceptively” actually be used?

I'm not sure if this is a duplicate question, but I couldn't find anything on here on the topic. I can't seem to figure out what is actually meant when using the word "deceptive," or rather, what is ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

What's the most preferred spelling of auto fill, auto-fill, and autofill?

When you are trying to say that something is automatically filled in, you use the word autofill, or if you were using past tense, autofilled. I see 3 main ways that people use it: auto fill / ...
12
votes
5answers
532 views

The use of “real” in the following cases [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Real quick question If you listen real close... Can you swing by real quick... Sentences like the above two are what I often hear in daily life. If I didn't ...
2
votes
2answers
1k views

Is there a rule or pointer explaining where to put '_even'_ in a sentence?

You don't even have a chance. You don't have even a chance. You even don't have a chance. You had no chance. (where?)
30
votes
7answers
4k views

What makes “like” and “so” popular?

So, I was like, why does everyone say like and so in every sentence? Where did this trend come from, like, what started it, and is it actually grammatically correct to like, insert like into our ...
47
votes
6answers
32k views

How long can you say “the late so and so”?

When you refer to the deceased, you say "the late so and so." How long can you say that? Is JFK referred to as the late John F. Kennedy? How about Abraham Lincoln?
3
votes
4answers
1k views

Is it normal in English to talk about oneself in the third person in these cases?

A Japanese person said that it is often normal to talk about oneself in the third person in English. This is what he wrote: For example, when you write a CV or an introduction of yourself, the ...
16
votes
8answers
4k views

Does the term “Asian” have different meanings among various English-speaking countries?

I have always had the view that the term "Asian", when pertaining to cultures, primarily refers to the cultures of the Far East. Recently I have been told that it also includes Indian and other ...
7
votes
5answers
75k views

Usage of 'Dear All' [duplicate]

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?
4
votes
2answers
4k views

Can “grammatical” mean “grammatically correct”? [closed]

I have been seeing phrases like, "That sentence isn't grammatical" etc. recently, and at first I wrote them off thinking, "Oh, well that technically isn't right, but I get what he's saying so I'm not ...
2
votes
1answer
266 views

Placing however at the start of a sentence vs placing it in the middle of a sentence?

Basically, what's the difference between this: However, it didn't mean that I didn't have the potential to become a rock star. and this? It didn't mean, however, that I didn't have the ...
6
votes
5answers
65k views

Correct use of will & would?

What would be the correct use of will & would in these sentences? 1) What will happen if I say to my boss that I will not come tomorrow? 2) What will happen if I would say to my boss that I will ...
2
votes
4answers
10k views

Words that can be repeated and still make sense [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Are there other repeated single word sentences like the Buffalo sentence? Are there words in English like had that can be repeated while still making sense? For example, ...
1
vote
2answers
212 views

Strange sentence structure from a piece by Paula Gunn Allen

This lesson is in a pattern book. I want to know why the word about is repeated quite a few times in the text: My mother told me stories about cooking and childbearing; she told me stories ...
41
votes
4answers
60k views

Why use the word “copy” in “do you copy that”?

I notice "do you copy that?" is used in movies to ask for confirmation in telephone/interphone conversation. I only know copy means make things duplicated, so why use it in "do you copy that"? Is ...
15
votes
5answers
36k views

“Know about” vs. “know of”

Recently one of my friends told me that there is distinct difference between 'know of something' and 'know about something' expressions. 'know of' is used when you have personal experience with what ...
19
votes
9answers
31k 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 ...
15
votes
3answers
9k views

Et cetera vs Et al

Probably one of the most used word around is et cetera. I also come across people substituting et al for etc. Google says me that both of them more or less give away the same meaning 'and the others'. ...
10
votes
4answers
2k views

Capitalization of the word universe

Playing around with Google's Ngram viewer, where you can see how many times a word is used in books, I stumbled on this: It shows how often universe and Universe have been used in books. I think ...
5
votes
1answer
51k views

When can I use “as well” as a synonym for “too” or “also”?

I remember that I can use "as well" as a synonym for "too" (or "also"). Is there any case in which I can't do this? Am I safe using either of them? This is partly related to these questions: ...
32
votes
11answers
8k views

What do you call money earned through unethical sources?

Money/Assets/Property that is earned through unethical sources is called ? Money that is earned through bad sources like corrupted politics, corrupted business, ransom money, stolen or theft ...
30
votes
11answers
7k views

Is there a word/term for a question where the asker knows he'll criticise any answer?

What do you call it when a person asks somebody a question when they know they'll criticise any answer regardless? For instance, a man asks you something like "If you were recruiting staff would you ...
22
votes
4answers
48k views

Can “sir” be used to address female officers?

The use of the term sir as a form of address for men, especially those of higher rank or status, is discussed in several prior questions including this one. They all indicate that the term is reserved ...
19
votes
2answers
37k views

People's names as names for genitalia?

How did Peter, the surname, Johnson, and the nicknames for William(Willy) and Richard(Dick), come to mean penis? Was the first instance of these usages, related to a specific person? Are there more ...
14
votes
2answers
1k views

Can the term “etymology” be applied to a phrase or only individual words?

I have always heard the term used in referring to a single word. When browsing questions on this site, I've seen it used applied to entire phrases, and have suppressed the compulsion to edit them and ...
10
votes
6answers
143k views

Madam vs. Ma'am

I suspect that the answer to this depends on region, so insights from multiple areas would be beneficial: It has been my impression that in the US addressing a woman as "Madam" is considered ...
7
votes
3answers
24k views

If 'pre' is previous, 'post' is after, what is current? [closed]

We were discussing something like pre-boss era, post-boss era. What word describes the era where the boss is still there?
6
votes
3answers
2k views

Is there a term/word for using an incorrect homophone

What would you call the following: Speak now or forever hold your piece.
30
votes
9answers
40k views

If someone is electrocuted, do they have to die or can they just be injured?

Is it correct to say I electrocuted my friend if he was only injured by electricity?
6
votes
3answers
31k views

Isle vs. Island

Some islands are called isle like "Isle of Man", "Isle of Tortuga" and the "British Isles". Other islands are called island, like "Island of Malta" or "Island of Cyprus". What is the difference ...
6
votes
4answers
2k views

Can “zealot” have a positive connotation?

A zealot is a person who is fanatical and uncompromising in pursuit of their religious, political, or other ideals. I have never seen this word used with positive connotation, but could it (without ...
6
votes
5answers
12k 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
5k views

What are “up” and “down” in “up there” and “down there”?

"Up there" and "down there" are two of the most frequent expressions that I, myself, use often. I really don't know whether they are just expressions used to refer to a place to go ("I went down ...
4
votes
4answers
1k views

Definite article before scientific terms

I'm writing up my dissertation and I'm really confused where to use "the". Examples: In this experiment, (the?) heat transfer coefficient was calculated, allowing to estimate (the?)frost ...