This tag is for questions about correctly using a word.

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8
votes
3answers
3k 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
17k 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 ...
6
votes
4answers
896 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 ...
93
votes
7answers
10k 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 ...
9
votes
7answers
18k 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.
7
votes
4answers
49k 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 ...
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 ...
6
votes
3answers
5k 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
4answers
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.
0
votes
1answer
133 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?
10
votes
3answers
5k 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 ...
43
votes
6answers
13k 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?
16
votes
4answers
1k 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
880 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 ...
13
votes
8answers
3k 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
85k 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, ...
3
votes
4answers
6k 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, ...
2
votes
2answers
459 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?)
27
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 ...
13
votes
3answers
6k 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'. ...
17
votes
9answers
19k 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
5answers
19k 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
30k 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: ...
5
votes
2answers
7k 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 ...
13
votes
6answers
3k 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
22k 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 ...
6
votes
4answers
1k 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
7answers
80k 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
6k views

Difference between “inflammable” and “flammable” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Why are not infamous and inflammable the opposite of famous and flammable like incomplete, inactivity, inappropriate and so on? I'm very confused by the existence of ...
4
votes
3answers
15k 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
11k views

Cause for vs cause of

I read this sentence somewhere today, but I think that the of would fit better here than for, don't you think? The cause for the original problem will be analysed in the normal maintenance hours. ...
3
votes
4answers
123 views

Polite or unrectified placement of the word please

I would please prefer to take both parts of the test on Monday. Is the placement of the word please in this sentence grammatically correct?
3
votes
2answers
4k views

The meaning of: “Why don't you just beat it?”

I would like to know what does this phrase means: "Why don't you just beat it?" My dictionary says only that: beat it: get lost Can you beat it? : Do you get it?
2
votes
6answers
395 views

Is the “will” in “can and will” necessary?

Anyone who's ever seen much American film or television has heard some variation of the following sentences countless times: You have the right to remain silent. If you choose to give up that ...
2
votes
1answer
736 views

Using “on” vs. “in”? [closed]

Consider the following sentence: I am developing an application to be installed on Android. And this: This has been a major flaw in Android... To be clear I am unsure of the usage of "in" ...
1
vote
2answers
181 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 ...
1
vote
3answers
2k views

Using hyphenated words in technical writing?

I always get confused when using hyphenated words in my research papers. Is there any specific rule for using hyphenated words? For example, which one of the following is the correct usage of co ...
0
votes
4answers
7k 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 ...
40
votes
8answers
6k views

Can I “wear an umbrella”?

Does it make sense to say the following? Yesterday I wore an umbrella and a coat.
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 ...
17
votes
2answers
24k 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
2k 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 ...
12
votes
4answers
825 views

What are the possible meanings of positive “any more”?

Ordinary any more [usually with negative or in questions] to any further extent; any longer: she refused to listen any more Positive any more is the use of the adverb any more in an ...
9
votes
6answers
73k 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 ...
8
votes
5answers
50k views

“In recent years” vs “in the recent years”

Do we write in the recent years or in recent years? For example, In the recent years, the influence of blablabla on blablabla has grown rapidly. In recent years, the influence of blablabla ...
6
votes
5answers
12k 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
15k views

Which preposition should I use here: “thinking of” or “thinking about”?

Thinking of getting an external keyboard Thinking about getting an external keyboard Which one is grammatically correct and why?
6
votes
5answers
2k views

Can sound be “blurry?”

Can sound be considered "blurry?" I have heard of visual things being "blurry." Examples of this include blurry photographs or blurred vision. Is the word "blurry" restricted only to vision? I ...
5
votes
3answers
1k views

Is there a term/word for using an incorrect homophone

What would you call the following: Speak now or forever hold your piece.
21
votes
5answers
7k views

Is “what on earth” still commonly used in real life? Is there any alternative that is not cursing or obscene?

I'm a non-native speaker. When I was at school, we were taught that "on earth" is used for emphasis in questions such as: What on earth are you talking about? However, from my experience ...