5
votes
1answer
7k views

What is the difference between an expression and a phrase?

I'm trying to decide what tags I should be using and realized I did not know the difference between these terms.
4
votes
9answers
2k views

Continuing to do something just because it was done before, without knowing why

How would you describe someone that continues to perform and action solely because they have observed someone else performing that same action, but do not know the reason. Or, they perform an action ...
12
votes
3answers
16k views

Were contractions less common in olden days?

We just viewed the new movie True Grit. The language of the characters was more formal sounding than we are used to, largely because of the absence of contractions. Is this historically accurate? Do ...
8
votes
3answers
4k views

Specific usage of the word 'but'

The Aesop's Fables translated by George Fyler Townsend book has a line which reads as follows: ... If you had but touched me, my friend, you ... I've seen the word 'but' used this way a couple ...
2
votes
1answer
2k views

Syntax analysis of the sentence

I'm trying to analyse the following sentence. To understand the importance of this event you should know all the facts. It seems to me that this sentence is complex, and «To understand ...
10
votes
5answers
34k views

Why does English spelling use silent letters?

Why have a letter in a word when it’s silent in pronunciation, like the b in debt? Can anyone please clarify my uncertainty here?
3
votes
1answer
291 views

Preposition for referring to a tool

Is it ok to use via to refer to a tool (The camera in this context) or should I use with or some other conjunction Photo by John Doe via Canon EOS 60D
6
votes
1answer
5k views

“I had to go see about a girl”

In one of my favourite movies Good Will Hunting, the main character played by Matt Damon says I had to go see about a girl. Is this sentence correct, and if so does it mean the same as the ...
6
votes
3answers
1k views

What is the origin of the phrase “blue moon”? Any alternate phrase for it?

Was just wondering how this phrase came into being? Was it inspired from some natural or astronomical observation? or is it the result of poetic imagination?
10
votes
3answers
10k views

Why does one scream blue murder?

To scream blue murder is to shout loudly and make a huge fuss, sometimes with the implication that the fuss is excessive. But does anyone know why murder should be blue?
0
votes
1answer
4k views

Should I refer to a person by his/ her name?

When writing emails, I come across a problem of whether I should refer to that person by name, or just a simple 'Hi'. Like if I don't know say Thomas Anderson and I want to mail him for the first ...
1
vote
2answers
581 views

Is it redundant to say, “…based on any arbitrary criteria?”

Should "arbitrary" suffice on its own, or does it make sense to include "any?"
14
votes
4answers
8k views

What is the difference between a “ghetto” and a “slum”?

What is the difference between a ghetto and a slum?
7
votes
6answers
32k views

Is it 'a usual' or 'an usual'? Why? [duplicate]

is it 'a usual' or 'an usual'? 'A usual' sounds more correct in my head ('Today was a usual day.') than 'an usual', but u is a vowel. Which one is correct and why?
8
votes
6answers
57k views

“There are so many” vs. “There is so many”

There are so many questions on this website. There is so many questions on this website. The former "sounds right," but the contracted form of the latter does as well: There's so many ...
6
votes
4answers
236 views

What would you write in this case? (a sign in a fitting room)

Once in a fitting room of one clothes store in Taiwan I saw a sign saying something like Watch your lipstick carefully no to touch the clothes you are trying on. While the main concern was ...
30
votes
6answers
47k views

Why is it “on *the* one hand”?

According to all dictionaries I can see and everyday use by native speakers, this is the correct way: On the one hand, it's larger; on the other hand, it's more expensive. What makes no sense to ...
1
vote
1answer
2k views

“Would not pass” or “would not have passed”?

Here is a situation: (Jack and Dorothy are in the car) Silence. They pass Blumergton. Dorothy looks out of the window, her face is obviously surprised. Silence again. They pass Himilgreens. ...
3
votes
4answers
366 views

Use of the word “convergent”

This question is for people who know some mathematics. Is it correct to say The sequence is convergent to 0. Normally we say: The sequence converges to 0.
8
votes
12answers
953 views

What would you call her actions here?

Here is a situation: Whenever a 2-year-old son does something wrong, his aunt always makes some remarks to her husband regarding that child's misbehavior and she does it deliberately in the presence ...
3
votes
1answer
362 views

Is panda “a kind of a bear” or “a kind of bear”?

Or, perhaps, it's not a kind at all? A type maybe?
3
votes
2answers
1k views

Where to get a set of common English phrase patterns?

I hope that this computational linguistics question is not an off-topic here. For my little just-for-fun programming project I'm looking for common English phrase part-of-speech patterns to use to ...
4
votes
5answers
636 views

What's a common interjection for the reaction to something creepy and disgusting (like some insects or spooky places, etc.)?

For example, A: - Look! There is a centipede on the table! B: - (interjection)!
0
votes
1answer
187 views

What do you call this kind of usage?

Is there a term to name this kind of usage: "Big" is an adjective. What I am thinking about is the adjective "big". I am already quite annoyed by "big's" in your speech. You repeat it almost every ...
11
votes
8answers
54k 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 ...
35
votes
5answers
30k views

What's the negation of “I used to be”? Surely not “I didn't used to be”?

What is the negative form of "I used to be"? I often hear "I didn't used to be" but that sounds awfully wrong in my ears.
1
vote
2answers
485 views

Quote of some advanced text? [closed]

I am trying to make a video and in it I need a piece of advanced text. You should get the feeling that this text is just advanced for the sake of being advanced, not for any practical reason, and ...
3
votes
2answers
966 views

Where can we find anacoluthon nowadays?

An anacoluthon <...> is a rhetorical device that can be loosely defined as a change of syntax within a sentence <...>. Grammatically, anacoluthon is an error; however, in rhetoric it is a ...
6
votes
3answers
512 views

Where does the -en come from in misshapen?

We can say both misshapen and misshaped. Where does the misshapen form come from? What other words use this form?
0
votes
1answer
129 views

J.A. Gagarin's flight vs J.A. Gagarin flight

1) Is it Ok to leave the initials or would you drop them? Writing his name in full seems odd since it isn't Gagarin who is the point of discussion. 2) Is it Gagarin's or Gagarin? Is there any ...
8
votes
2answers
697 views

Long lived slang

Every year new slang words enter the popular lexicon but which ones actually 'stick'? Every since I can remember, 'cool' has been an acceptable word whereas 'groovy' passed out of usage in the 70s. Is ...
5
votes
3answers
4k views

“in the year 1908” or “in the year of 1908”

Do we need preposition "of" after a year? Freud is a visitor at James’s Sussex residence, Lamb House, in the year 1908
4
votes
1answer
217 views

Meaning of “shed all gentlemanly reticence”

Please explain the meaning of the text in bold, taken from this Bloomberg article. Ah, yes. They have shed all gentlemanly reticence over dragging former allies into court.
7
votes
4answers
5k views

How should I greet a close friend from the United States?

I (male) have a very good (female) friend over in the south-western United States that I met one year ago and we're exchanging mails or messages from time to time. We're both not older than 22 and I ...
21
votes
8answers
3k views

Is there a rule about double negations that aren't meant as double negations (e.g. “We don't need no education”)?

How can you explain that this double negation is not a double negation? Is there a rule in English about this kind of sentence? PS / Do I have to mention Pink Floyd Copyright ? :-) Edit : Since ...
4
votes
2answers
6k views

Under what circumstances should I use 'requisite' and 'required'?

The context of this is in the writing a technical document. The statement I am writing is something of the ilk: The package then updates the [requisite/required] number of tables. I was ...
24
votes
4answers
39k views

Changes in English names of people

Why is Robert called Bob and John called Jack sometimes? What is the history of or reason for this practice in changing the English names of people?
4
votes
3answers
264 views

Can “run-through” be possibly a noun?

Can "run-through" be possibly a noun? Is it possible at all? If yes, can you, please, come up with a sentence that would contain this noun? Can you also, please, describe a situation, in which that ...
6
votes
3answers
435 views

Professors and Students

When I was learning English back in school (in the nineties), there were pupils and teachers. Now there seem to be students and professors, where a "professor" can be anyone who happens to teach ...
13
votes
4answers
45k views

What's the difference between “yet another” and “another”?

What's the difference between yet another and another?
6
votes
2answers
3k views

How to say *heathenous?

I want to decry an act or object as having heathen-like qualities. I would call it *heathenous, except apparently this word is neither in the dictionaries nor oft-seen by google.
1
vote
2answers
226 views

How could Ronald Reagan be compared with God in Sarah Palin's list of American authentic, and why?

Further to my question about the usage of ‘Blood libels’ I posted yesterday, I found the following lead-copy of an article referring to Sara Palin’s rhetoric in today’s Washington Post. It seems the ...
3
votes
2answers
686 views

“He thought that that might be awkward.”

"He thought that that might be awkward." I know this sentence is a bit awkward, but is it grammatically incorrect?
21
votes
2answers
18k views

“noone”, “no one” or “no-one”?

What is the correct form? Does context play a role? Are there noticeable trends towards the awkward "noone" or is it just a by-product of careless orthography on the Internet?
1
vote
4answers
484 views

Is “Actor Peter Fonda found dead body inside car” correct?

"Actor Peter Fonda found dead body inside car" - that's the title that Yahoo first chose for its news article confusing so many people Is this kind of title correct? (They just changed to "Police: ...
4
votes
3answers
8k views

I sent vs I sent out

Which one is correct and why: I sent out the inquiry to the support team vs I sent the inquiry to the support team Even though the question is specific to "sent out", please verify the ...
3
votes
3answers
3k views

“Place” or “Site”?

I'm looking for the most appropriate term to refer to places/sites where you can do something specific. In my case it's going out for taking photos. Which of these two words would best suit that use? ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

Is this correct: “.. get us one of them thousand foot perimeters.”

In a recent Daily Show episode, Jon Stewart said this (position: 00:40 in video): Can the rest of us get us one of them thousand-foot gun-free perimeters? I am not a native speaker, so I am ...
1
vote
1answer
66 views

Is it okay to say “What was the number of…” meaning “How many…”?

Is it okay to say "What was the number of" meaning "How many"? For example, "What was the number of students that came here yesterday?"
2
votes
1answer
330 views

Where is the modifier in “the majority of senators”, “a number of students”, “the range of documents”?

Where is the modifier in "the majority of senators", "a number of students" and in "a range of documents" in these sentences: The majority of senators will be fired tomorrow. A number of students ...

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