This tag is for questions about correctly using a word.

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2
votes
2answers
10k views

“Polarized” or “polarizing” opinions?

English is a foreign language to me, and one word that is particularly confusing is "polarize". In physics, it has contradictory definitions; when polarizing waves you remove inequality, but ...
0
votes
1answer
2k views

The problem with the word “quite” [duplicate]

"Quite" is probably the most ambiguous word in the English language. Merriam-Webster defines it three ways: 1: completely, wholly, totally (quite mistaken) 2: to an extreme : positively (quite ...
2
votes
2answers
2k views

Formal way to describe sexual acts

I'm writing a statement of events that happened between me and my ex. It needs to be written formally but I don't how to write the following words in that way: "blowjob" and "eating her out." Thanks ...
15
votes
6answers
4k views

Using “so” and “very” for ungradable adjectives

We generally use modifiers such as "so" and "very" for gradable/normal adjectives (water can be quite/so/very HOT, but not quite/so/very BOILING (an ungradable/extreme adjective). Yet would you say ...
1
vote
2answers
365 views

Proper use of retrospective

I am writing a narrative essay and I am currently working on the final touches. Right now I am focusing my attention on the title. The essay is a look back on a couple days, several years ago that a ...
0
votes
2answers
985 views

Difference in Usage of Specificity & Specification [closed]

I found two noun words such as Specificity and Specification. When can we use Specificity over specification.
1
vote
1answer
38 views

Metaprogramming vs Meta-programming [duplicate]

Which usage of the prefix, "Meta" is correct, "Metaprogramming" or "Meta-programming"? Should the word be hyphenated or not?
1
vote
3answers
275 views

Voltage vs. Voltages

Is 'voltages' the plural for voltage? When requesting for someone to check voltage more than once, would you state that you're documenting 'voltages'?
4
votes
1answer
3k views

Using “ran” as a past participle

I've got a document I'm reading, written by a co-worker. I know the co-worker in question grew up in the same Oklahoma town I did, although a slightly different part, and 15 years later. So while we ...
0
votes
1answer
3k views

Would you use the term “looker” to describe a man?

Both Merriam Webster and Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary define looker as a word used to describe an attractive person, usually a woman. http://oald8.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/dictionary/...
1
vote
2answers
336 views

The difference between “heathen” and “ungodly”

My student needed an adjective which means "irreligious" or "does not believe in God/a god." I suggested the words "heathen" and "ungodly". Would you say there's a difference between the two ...
3
votes
2answers
4k views

Which is more grammatically correct - “performance in” or “performance on”?

Which of the following is more grammatically correct? a. John's performance on the test shocked the teacher. (or) b. John's performance in the test shocked the teacher.
3
votes
1answer
18k views

Am I using 'thus' correctly in this paragraph?

I'd like to confirm if the use of 'thus' is correct in the following passage. If it's not, please explain why, and what an alternative would be. I believe the most important mission of a ...
0
votes
1answer
240 views

It's not affect, but can you “effect” something?

I understand the differences between affect and effect, and generally when to use them. However, in some cases while reading I have seen authors use the phrase "effect a change" (among others) meaning,...
1
vote
2answers
629 views

Sunday as a Week Marker

When someone uses the phrase "the week of the [Sunday's date]" does that usually refer to the week preceding that Sunday or after it?
0
votes
1answer
87 views

This needs to be reprinted vs. this needs reprinted [duplicate]

What is the difference between using: this needs to be fixed; and this needs fixed Can they be used interchangeably? Is the second one grammatically correct?
38
votes
4answers
7k views

“Two yellow spots on its wings” vs “a yellow spot on both wings”

The bird has two yellow spots on its wings. versus The bird has a yellow spot on both wings. Do they mean the same? Which one describes more accurately the yellow spots of the following bird? ...
3
votes
4answers
2k views

Alternatives to the common construction “didn't used to”

I am hearing the use of this odd-sounding construction more and more frequently as of late. For example: I didn't used to smoke. I didn't used to work for McDonald's. I was trying to think ...
1
vote
3answers
143 views

Is “Lady Macbeth has plotted this out carefully and diligently” a correct use of “plot”?

Lady Macbeth has plotted this out carefully and diligently. Can I use the word "plot" in such a way? I know most people would want to replace that with "planned", but I don't want to keep using that ...
0
votes
1answer
8k views

What is the difference between providing that and provided that? [closed]

Please tell me about this question and give me an example for each one. Is it conjunction or not? Thanks
1
vote
2answers
4k views

Is it correct to use the word “something” to describe a plural form?

Then, as I continued gazing at her, something came to my mind. They were the remnants of the dream I had before waking up. Is that grammatically correct? If not, what's the closest alternative?
1
vote
1answer
162 views

Is “platonic” generally appropriate?

Specifically, I'm wondering about the definition about relationships: of, relating to, or having a close relationship in which there is no romance or sex. Is "platonic" generally appropriate? ...
0
votes
3answers
782 views

What's the difference in being extemporaneous,being spontaneous and being impulsive?

What's the difference in being extemporaneous, being spontaneous and being impulsive? Or, when, where, - in which situation - would you rather use them?
1
vote
3answers
484 views

Are academics considered “experts”, “professionals”, or both in their scientific field?

I wrote a proposal for a survey to be conducted at a conference in the field of requirements engineering. I decided that all attendants at the conference, both the ones coming from industry and ones ...
4
votes
2answers
521 views

What is the context in which 'ice breaking' is a good thing?

If you are on a frozen lake and the ice breaks you basically plunge into cold water. That could end badly. What is the explanation for 'getting to know everyone', or 'getting the conversation ...
2
votes
3answers
1k views

Difference between “infirmary” and “sick-bay”?

What's the difference between "infirmary" and "sick-bay"? Are they completely synonymous?
0
votes
1answer
158 views

A word that refers to a previously mentioned action [closed]

I am trying to refer back to the action "act swiftly" mentioned previously, but I am not sure if I am in the right direction. I thought of a few possible solutions as follows. An entire rephrasing of ...
1
vote
3answers
1k views

Can “retrospectively” be used in this manner?

The following is the paragraph which the word "retrospectively" is used. I meant to say something like " the government has learnt from the past events, and as a result, have implemented these ...
4
votes
1answer
86 views

What is the origin of the term 'going to wrack and ruin'?

'Wrack' refers to wreckage, vengeance and retributive punishment. From looking at its copious entry in the OED it is clear that the word 'wrack' has had a considerable history. But other than for this ...
1
vote
2answers
143 views

Is the following use of however correct?

There was no way, however; my mind was still wide awake. I always see however after semicolons but never like the case above. Is the example grammatically correct?
0
votes
2answers
2k views

“Enter information about your education history from secondary level onwards”: Is the word “onwards” inclusive or exclusive?

I was filling an application and I came across this sentence: Enter information about your education history from secondary level onwards. I am a bit confused. Do I have to include the ...
2
votes
1answer
5k 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 instruments,...
2
votes
1answer
5k views

What does “barely” imply?

When someone says, I barely understand that. Does he mean: He almost doesn't understand [which means he understands a bit] He almost understands [which means he doesn't understand] ...
-1
votes
1answer
190 views

Can you “empower” a goal rather than a person?

I want to write: "...to empower individual health." However, I can't think of examples where "empower" takes a direct object that is not a person. You can empower a person, but can you empower a ...
5
votes
6answers
13k views

Proper Use of “Disponibility”

I recently ran into a word that I hadn't encountered before in my life in this context: "Well, thanks a lot [BlackVegetable] both for your quick reply and disponibility." (It's in a comment on ...
0
votes
1answer
2k views

Comma usage when but is used between two adjective or adverbs

What is the rule regarding comma usage when but is used between two contrasting adjectives or adverbs? It is a vey interesting, but stupid question, and one that I have had a hard time finding a ...
1
vote
3answers
145 views

actual / wise or both [closed]

We had an exam today and here is the question on which I was confused. Fill in the gaps. Justin is a very hardworking student. His ideas and words are ___and useful. There were 2 ...
1
vote
1answer
2k views

What does “cynical confidence” mean? [closed]

I know that cynical means something along the lines of believing the worst in people, but how does this word coincide with confidence? For instance, what would this line mean? The witness had a ...
4
votes
1answer
10k views

Is it more correct to say “You have not yet <actioned>” or “You have not <actioned> yet”?

Having seen Correct placing and usage of "yet", it sounds like it may be correct to say either "You have not created any items yet." or "You have not yet created any items." Is one more ...
0
votes
2answers
301 views

“By/before/until/through” in the past

I need to express how an event occurred before-or-at a certain time in the past (non exclusive or, which of the two alternatives is the actual one is left open). For the future I would have used "by",...
1
vote
1answer
2k views

Using Manifest correctly

Can I use the verb manifest in the following sentence? We would quickly learn that obstacles can manifest in any neighborhood. Google's Definition: display or show (a quality or feeling) ...
2
votes
1answer
2k views

Found missing/Found to be missing?

Which one among the following is correct? These were found missing. or These were found to be missing. For me the former one sounds little bit odd since "found" and "missing" are next to ...
0
votes
1answer
40 views

Can I use excluding at the end of expression of interval?

I want to express the fact that first part one of an XML file extents from the beginning to the Parameters section, but it does not include Parameters section. Can I express it like this: The ...
0
votes
2answers
1k views

How do you express having a mutual acquaintance when you introduce yourself?

Let's imagine that Jack told me about his friend who is a lawyer, called Mark. And that Jack also told me that I have to mention to Mark that I know him (Jack). How can I introduce myself to Mark ...
2
votes
2answers
284 views

Can someone be instilled with medication?

I am looking specifically for how to use the first definition given here: to cause to enter drop by drop (instill medication into the infected eye) but I imagine usage rules would apply equally ...
2
votes
1answer
278 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
393 views

Is yea an acceptable replacement for yeah?

I'm an amateur writer, writing almost entirely fanfiction, and I use the word 'yea' in my writings rather often instead of yeah. In sentences like "If you mean did that just happen? Yea." or "Yea... I'...
1
vote
2answers
52 views

“Serial potential drop” or “series of potential drops”

I would like to use the word serial in the sense that it denotes a sequential arrangement of objects. In that regard, is it better to say "serial potential drop" instead of "a series of potential ...
2
votes
2answers
829 views

What is the meaning of 'the food chain'?

The OED confirms my long-held suspicion that the original use of the term 'food chain' is becoming supplanted by an altogether different meaning. The term 'food chain' was used extensively in the ...
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 / ...