This tag is for questions about correctly using a word.

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7
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
80
votes
7answers
9k 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
4answers
23k 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
4k 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
620 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
1k 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.
41
votes
6answers
4k 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?
15
votes
3answers
642 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 ...
3
votes
4answers
645 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
9k 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 ...
26
votes
7answers
3k 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 ...
15
votes
9answers
12k 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 ...
9
votes
5answers
11k 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 ...
8
votes
6answers
11k views

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

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.
13
votes
8answers
2k 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
4k 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 ...
11
votes
5answers
2k views

When and how did “momentarily” come to mean “in a moment”, rather than “for a moment”?

"Momentarily" used to mean "for a moment" only, and not "in a moment". Thus, newscasters could be divided into two clear groups: those who would say "we'll be back momentarily," and those who would ...
6
votes
7answers
43k views

What is the proper usage of the phrase “due diligence”?

I have encountered the phrase "due diligence" in the business world. The usage examples I have seen (mostly emails) cannot exactly be considered grammatical canon. An internet search produces ...
3
votes
3answers
6k 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
195 views

Is there a rule or something, that explain where to put ''even''?

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?)
1
vote
2answers
155 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 ...
0
votes
4answers
5k views

Do we ask for check or cheque in restaurants?

I know there is a related question asked here. But its slightly different than it and seeking more information. I live in India, I have been to America couple of times. In my first trip it was ...
38
votes
8answers
5k views

Can I “wear an umbrella”?

Does it make sense to say the following? Yesterday I wore an umbrella and a coat.
12
votes
3answers
4k 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'. ...
16
votes
2answers
16k 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
1answer
1k views

On the usage of “etcetera”

In Spanish, we use the word etcétera at the end of an enumeration to imply there are more things to mention, which may (or not) be important, but they will be omitted. Thus, I was fairly surprised ...
9
votes
6answers
42k 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
3k 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 ...
5
votes
5answers
10k views

“Dear Professor” vs “Dear Mr”: differences between British and American usage

In British English, is it acceptable to address a professor as "Dear Professor X" when writing a formal or informal letter? Does it sound natural? Why I am asking this question: I was looking ...
4
votes
3answers
574 views

Is there a term/word for using an incorrect homophone

What would you call the following: Speak now or forever hold your piece.
19
votes
10answers
6k 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 ...
7
votes
6answers
713 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 ...
7
votes
5answers
45k 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?
4
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
19k 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: ...
3
votes
2answers
431 views

Is the formation “[s]he” overly distracting?

Does the use of "[s]he" as a gender-neutral pronoun prompt eye-rolling in the reader or is it generally accepted? I know it cannot be pronounced, but it seems to me a helpful contraction in written ...
2
votes
4answers
1k views

“Planning for next year” vs. “planning for the next year”

I would like to start planning for next year. In the above sentence, there is no definite article before the words next year. Should it be present, as in the following sentence which sounds far ...
10
votes
5answers
8k 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
4k views

Why is Ukraine often called “the Ukraine”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Using the definite article before a country/state name Hearing the Ukraine used to make me unsure whether Ukraine was really a country. Now though I have realized ...
8
votes
5answers
813 views

Indian English use of “only”

I am from Bangalore and people here tend use the word only to emphasise something in a sentence. For example: We are getting that only printed. What is the proper way to put it?
8
votes
5answers
1k views

Difference between “spirit” and “soul”

What is the difference between spirit and soul? Is the word soul used for only human beings? For instance, He [Descartes] thought the brain worked as a center for the spirits of the soul.
6
votes
2answers
11k views

Which phrase is correct: “dependent on” or “dependent upon”

Which sentence is correct?  my project is dependent upon your project completing my project is dependent on your project completing.
5
votes
5answers
3k views

Word for when one uses the wrong word in a sentence

Specifically, I'm looking for the term for when a person uses a word correctly, but intends a different meaning. For example: I empathize with you. When the person really means: I ...
5
votes
1answer
629 views

How do words become derogatory or politically incorrect?

I know how words can become racist but I'm not sure how a word becomes derogatory or politically incorrect. If seems as though once one does, a new term is created to replace it that is not derogatory ...
5
votes
3answers
146 views

Does a whole “compose” its parts?

I just wrote a sentence like this and I'm wondering I've used the word compose correctly. In order to find the length of the train, you'll need to measure the individual cars it composes. Is ...
5
votes
7answers
544 views

Can we say “on the brink of off-topic”?

I recently learned on the brink in context of to teeter on the brink of disaster. Now, when I want to mention that something is marginal or borderline I remember on the brink. This question is ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

What's a reception room / parlor / parlour / drawing room?

What's a reception room/parlor/parlour/ drawing room? I'm thinking, is it just another word for the living room of my house?
5
votes
3answers
5k views

Usage of “ain't”?

As far as I understand, "ain't" can mean either "isn't" (ain't no sunshine) or "hasn't" (you ain't seen nothing yet). Are there any rules when "ain't" is used? Does it have a different meaning than ...
4
votes
4answers
484 views

“Equal” versus “Equals” [duplicate]

I've seen variants of this question, but nothing explicitly like the one below: Three feet equals/equal a yard. Which is correct? Is there a definitive explanation? Please indicate BrE vs AmE ...