1
vote
1answer
3k views

Why is “doing” used here instead of “to do”?

I have read this question: “I like to do (be) something” vs “I like doing (being) something” and I get (although the answer could not be applied to my example) that using "to do" means in general I ...
4
votes
1answer
5k views

“I finally was able” or “I was finally able”?

Is one form wrong or more correct than the other? Or do they have different meanings? I'm a non-native speaker trying to figure it out.
6
votes
1answer
280 views

Etymology of charlâtanerie

Can anyone provide me with the etymology and details of usage of the word charlâtanerie ? I came across this word while reading The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe.The following passage ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

What's the rule for writing sentences with parallel clauses?

I've sometimes seen very nicely written sentences that have 2 clauses: the first is a full sentence, while the second, which is supposed to have a similar structure, was shorten into a special ...
12
votes
8answers
23k views

If you can be “discombobulated”, is it possible to be “combobulated”?

I've often heard the word "discombobulated" used. But I've never heard of something being "combobulated", and it's not in any dictionary I've looked at. If "combobulated" is not word, where did "...
2
votes
1answer
2k views

How can the word 'priori' be used?

I am only familiar with 'a priori', such as 'a priori conditions'. Now a friend uses the word as follows: "the supremacy of nature and the priori and inevitability of death and of history." I do ...
17
votes
4answers
143k views

Where did the phrase “batsh*t crazy” come from?

I am curious how this term came to be. I've found this question on various forums, but none of them seem to agree where the term came from. The most popular explanation seems to come from "bat in the ...
8
votes
2answers
6k views

Plural of “abacus”

A colleague and I were having a discussion as to the proper plural form of abacus. I believe the plural would be abacuses and he feels that the proper form would be abaci. I believe that abacuses is ...
2
votes
3answers
7k views

“Goes good with” or “goes well with”

Let's say that A and B are two different kinds of foods. Which is grammatically correct? A goes good with B. A goes well with B. If they're both correct, then which is better?
3
votes
4answers
404 views

What's the most common word to refer to a soccer team's shield (or coat of arms)?

I am trying to find the most common way to refer to a soccer team's shield (or coat of arms).
5
votes
1answer
191 views

Castleford dialect

I have recently heard the following from young children originating from Castleford, West Yorkshire: Yourn, meaning yours, hern, meaning hers, arn, meanig ours Could this be related to the ...
2
votes
5answers
1k views

Is it correct for someone to say that they've “fixed the apparent problems” with something?

Either there were no problems and therefore nothing to fix. Or there were some problems are therefore something to fix. But how can apparent problems be fixed? Unless "apparent" in this context means "...
7
votes
4answers
2k views

Are the allies always good guys?

I spotted that when a war is described in English, the side described as "allies" is nearly always reserved to the side to which the speaker has sympathy. Although technically the word means somebody ...
1
vote
1answer
5k views

“tailored towards” or “tailored to”?

Which one would you prefer, in particular in combination with "the needs"? Google finds a lot more for "tailored to" (30 millions) than for "tailored towards" (only 600 thousands).
4
votes
3answers
25k views

Can I change how to accomplish something once someone says “or something to that effect”?

I periodically get a broad description of how to perhaps solve a problem at work but then at the end of the email the phrase "or something to that effect" is included. Does that mean - 'just get me ...
3
votes
2answers
986 views

Origin of once again

I'm sure that most of you will be familiar with the phrase "once again." Once again, I take that back. However, I don't get the words. Once means "one time." However, again means that you did it ...
3
votes
3answers
2k views

Plural Possessive of a Singular Noun

While browsing this SE site, I stopped to look at the "What kind of questions can I ask here?" section of the FAQ, where the following is written: Questions on the following topics are welcomed ...
-3
votes
3answers
436 views

Idiom about a chicken or not?

I faced this phrase when the author of the blog post titled The Future Of Lisp wanted to show that nothing is clear: "What, when, why and where did my chicken go?" What does this phrase mean? Is it ...
15
votes
2answers
15k views

Why is “zero” plural?

I could have: Zero books One book Two books Why is zero in plural form? Edit Per Merriam-Webster: Plural (adj): of, relating to, or constituting a class of grammatical forms usually used to ...
1
vote
6answers
5k views

Common antonyms to “happy ending”?

I know you may specify to something like tragic, open end to describe actually what the end is like. But do English critics/reviewer in movie magazines use a common term for movies with bad/evil ...
12
votes
3answers
12k views

Do we say “… is greater or equal to…” or “… is greater or equal than…”?

We do say "… is equal to…", but we say "… is greater than…". What happens when we mix those? What should we say: "… is greater or equal to…" (297,000,000 hits on Google), or "… is greater or equal ...
9
votes
3answers
6k views

How do the terms “fanboy” and “fangirl” differ from the generic term “fan?”

Prompted by the question: " How did kool-aid come to be the drink of fanboys? " Wikipedia's explanation on "Fanboy (disambiguation)" provides: A fanboy is a person considered to belong to one or ...
1
vote
1answer
569 views

“Have you ever drunk XYZ?”

I am not a native English speaker. Suppose I wish to ask an audience whether they have ever had some particular drink (alcoholic)? How am I supposed to ask it? Have any of you drunk Carlsberg Beer?...
-3
votes
4answers
3k views

“feel like” vs “be like”

Do these sentences convey the same meaning? If not, what's the difference? Pisces feel like fish in an infinite ocean of thought and feeling. Pisces are like fish in an infinite ocean of thought ...
46
votes
3answers
46k views

“Maximum” vs. “maximal”

What is the difference in usage between maximum and maximal? When would you use one or the other? Maximum can be a noun or an adjective: This is the maximum it can be set to. This is the ...
5
votes
2answers
3k views

What does “get wound” mean?

In the sixth panel of this web comic the character says, "Get wound, Sturmvoraus*! I do not need your help." So, what does "get wound" mean in this context? I googled it, but only got "getting wound ...
2
votes
2answers
7k views

User: She, He, She or He, or They? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Is there a correct gender neutral, singular pronoun (his vs. her vs. their)? I would like to know if when I'm writing about a "user" (in the broad sense), what do I use? ...
27
votes
12answers
43k views

Proverb or expression for a situation with two choices, both leading to a different kind of trouble

I'm searching for a proverb or expression that describes a situation which has two choices or two ways out (that is, somewhat of a forced choice) where both lead to some kind of trouble (but not the ...
0
votes
5answers
6k views

What does “since he was so high” mean?

I came across this sentence in a Wodehouse book (talking about spots on skin) ...he knows his spots from A to Z and has been treating them since he was so high. What does the phrase since __ was ...
2
votes
3answers
2k views

Usage of 'z' in the word serialized in English?

Is it correct to use 'z' or 's' in the word "seriali z ed" when writing correct English? (I.e. not a variant of English like "American") Or should it be spelled like "seriali s ed" ?
5
votes
3answers
2k views

What does ‘Move the bar on somebody’ mean?

According to Maureen Dawd’s article titled “Field of Dashed Dream’ appearing on August 16 New York Times, President Obama took a strong verbal punch on the chin from a woman supporter at a town hall ...
1
vote
3answers
5k views

How can I learn to speak with various accents? [closed]

How can I learn to speak with appropriate English accents when reading books aloud? For example, are there simple rules for each accent? My question is general question, but my application is ...
3
votes
1answer
6k views

Using “a/an” with uncountable nouns in exclamation sentences

I work with Chinese children to practice some English. I have a sentence like this: "What an useful advice you gave me!" However, on most Chinese materials I have with me, it is said that the ...
2
votes
1answer
744 views

Executing a plan

To execute a plan is to carry it out. However, isn't this wording strange? Why doesn't executing a plan mean the same thing as shooting it down?
2
votes
3answers
5k views

What does “message to the main” mean?

I have been listening to the song Written in the Stars by Tinie Tempah and the lyrics go like this: Oh written in the stars A million miles away A message to the main Oh Seasons come and ...
-1
votes
2answers
826 views

What is the difference between “dissoluble” and “soluble”?

I noticed that there are words "dissoluble", "dissolute", and "soluble", "solute". In one word, the terms with "dis-" and without "dis-". What is the difference between them?
49
votes
7answers
263k views

“The Dude abides” — what does “abide” mean in that context?

I'm unfamilar with the word "abide" which is famously used the the movie quote "The Dude abides" (The Big Lebowski). Looking it up in a German/English dictionary makes me believe it's "The Dude lives ...
3
votes
2answers
12k views

Why do we say “This is ” instead of “This's”?

It is => It's I am => I'm That is => That's Why do we say "This is " instead of "This's"?
10
votes
3answers
10k views

Is “very less” correct English?

Is using very less correct English? My friend suggests it should be very little. Are they both correct, or is there a difference?
7
votes
2answers
964 views

Is “for true” valid English?

I have an English-language version of my Finnish birth certificate. It is called an "extract from the population system". The last paragraph, showing the name of the issuing autority, the place, date ...
10
votes
4answers
922 views

Minimum and maximum age of “guy”

Guy has pretty much the same meaning as the German counterpart Kerl. There is the progression of age in the sequence child, teenager, adolescent, (young) fellow, guy, old man/guy (?), senior. But ...
2
votes
1answer
2k views

What is the origin of “stack” meaning $1000?

I just read this lovely quote from MSN about an ex-girlfriend putting out a hit on her ex-boyfriend: "I will pay somebody a stack to kill my baby father," Eley wrote in a post this spring, ...
8
votes
2answers
1k views

History of the phrase “olden days”

When and where was the phrase olden days coined?
17
votes
2answers
2k views

How did kool-aid come to be the drink of fanboys?

Why does Kool-Aid relate to being something's fanboy/fangirl?
3
votes
8answers
36k views

Does “until [date]” mean “before that date”?

What does until mean in the following? You need to deliver this product within 2 days (until August 18, 2011) to meet your deadline and get paid. Does this mean that I have to deliver the ...
17
votes
8answers
7k views

Is the phrase “for free” correct?

A friend claims that the phrase for free is incorrect. Should we only say at no cost instead?
-1
votes
1answer
2k views

Why is “pull my finger” a joke? [closed]

I've heard of this joke in the TV show "Friends" several times, and I don't understand why it's funny. Could someone give me a hint? It's hard to get Chandler's joke for non-English speakers.
11
votes
8answers
20k views

Does British English use the term “heel” for the end slice of bread?

I'm Irish, and hence speak Hiberno-English. Here is a photograph of some sliced bread: The topmost slice of this (that's crust on the end), is called "the heel". Is this meaning for "heel" ...
2
votes
5answers
273 views

Should there be a comma or a colon here?

His latest album is Foo featuring his band, Bar. His latest album is Foo featuring his band: Bar. Which is the more appropriate way to punctuate the sentence?
4
votes
5answers
28k views

Meaning and correct use of “as to why”

I don't know why I love you, even when you are homeless. I don't know as to why I love you, even when you are homeless. I am crazy because I don't know what the difference between these two ...

15 30 50 per page