26
votes
4answers
4k views

Pronunciation of “have” in “I don't have to” [do something]

Normally when I say "I don't have to do that" (meaning I'm not obliged to), I find that as well as putting heavy stress on the word "have", I pronounce if haff. Is this common? If so, why does the ...
5
votes
6answers
3k views

What's the term for the inner perimeter of something?

Say I have a building with a sidewalk on its outside. To walk it I might say something like: "I'm going to walk the perimeter of the building." Now say I want to walk around the perimeter of the ...
8
votes
2answers
23k views

“During summer” vs. “during the summer”

What is the difference between saying "during summer" and "during the summer"? As in: I work during the summer. I work during summer. Are both common? Is my feeling correct that the ...
3
votes
2answers
2k views

“Painful” vs. “hurtful”

Can painful be used in place of hurtful as in the following sentence ? It is a painful story of a small baby fish I would not like to share with anyone.
2
votes
6answers
54k views

Shorter alternatives to “staying up-to-date”

Is this kind of bad foreign English or it would be correct to say "to keep yourself up-to-date"/"informed" when subscribing, e.g., a twitter or a RSS feed? Is there a single verb/adjective/shorter ...
7
votes
8answers
1k views

Express an ability not to do something

How would I express my ability not to do something? "I cannot dig" means that I definitely cannot dig. But how do I express my ability not to dig? The first thing that comes to my mind is "I am able ...
11
votes
3answers
1k views

“Invoke” and “invocation”

We invoke something using an invocation. Is the use of a k and a c in words of the same root like this unusual? Might I reasonably expect invocation to be spelled invokation?
5
votes
3answers
5k views

Use of “compute” and “calculate” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Difference between "computation" and "calculation"? Speed is calculated/computed as distance per time. Speed is a quotient ratio of distance and ...
5
votes
1answer
20k views

Distinctly vs Distinctively

I use the latter most of the time, but I am unsure where the former is more appropriate. What are the different uses of "distinctly" vs "distinctively"?
0
votes
1answer
383 views

Equivalent for “at the heart of our society” [closed]

I want to say "XXX is at the heart of our society," but I feel it's such a cliche! Any suggestions for a somewhat equivalent sentence?
2
votes
2answers
457 views

“While” as a non-temporal adverb

Is it correct in formal writing to use while as a non-temporal adverb? For instance Phenomenon A is generated by XXX, while phenomenon B is generated by YYY Should I rather use : Phenomenon ...
3
votes
10answers
8k views

Is there an expression for creating something from start to finish (e.g. grain to bread)

Maybe this is not really the right place to ask this, I hope I will not be penalized for asking this. I am a webdeveloper, and I do most of the stuff myself, from the basic idea, till the final ...
1
vote
3answers
2k views

What does 'wear-wite' mean?

I've got a spoon (probably a boulion spoon) with the following text in capitals: wear-wite rustless nickel silver Sheffield Made in England What does 'wear-wite' mean?
5
votes
4answers
2k views

How to correctly say you liked some food?

Yesterday a colleague gave me a piece of cake. We are both not native English speakers, but communicate in English. She wanted to ask me if I liked it and wrote: 'Did the cake taste you?' (1) ...
6
votes
2answers
543 views

What does “We don’t do anything that’s not completely up and up” mean?

I found an amusing story titled “Lobster salad, but a key ingredient was missing” in today’s (August 11)New York Times NY/Region section. The article reports that Zabar’s, the famous grocery in ...
3
votes
2answers
138 views

Will the comma suffice to indicate whether the subject or the object is being modified?

There are two separate meanings I'm trying to convey with the following two sentences: 1) "I painted my brother sitting against the wall." 2) "I painted my brother, sitting against the wall."...
2
votes
2answers
2k views

What to call the collective parts of a day?

Millennia are made of centuries and decades, centuries of decades and years. Years are months, months of weeks, but not precisely. Days are made of hours, but what do we call the several imprecise ...
10
votes
7answers
29k views

What is the meaning of the term “herbert” in British slang?

In the song Get Out of My House by The Business, the chorus is: Out, out get out of my house, you'd better take your sheepskin too no son of mine's going round as a hippie or a scruffy little ...
3
votes
2answers
664 views

Is “Sent from my iPhone” correctly punctuated and capitalized?

I'm sure everyone has seen this phrase at the bottom of many e-mail messages. My question is about the combination of punctuation and capitalization. The capitalization of the first word makes me ...
2
votes
1answer
227 views

Is there a pejorative word for an ethnic appeal?

When ultra-conservative Jesse Helms ran against Congressman Nick Galifianakis in 1972, he is considered to have gained ground with the slogan, "Jesse Helms: He's One of Us," presumably referring to ...
1
vote
4answers
8k views

Is “I don’t suppose you could lend me a pound?” a well-used expression when you ask someone to lend money?

I came across the phrase, "I don’t suppose you could lend me a pound?" in the short story titled "Chalk and Cheese," contained in "To Cut a Long Story Short" by Jeffrey Archer. The phrase appears in ...
2
votes
2answers
11k views

“when would” vs “when will”

I'm trying to ask a question about the future. So which form of the verb "will" should I use? So, when will it be there? So, when would it be there?
3
votes
6answers
950 views

“Have some reason you” or “Have some reason why you”

Can the "why" be removed from the phrase "have some reason why you?" Example: Do you have some reason you ____? vs. Do you have some reason why you ____? Are these both grammatically ...
39
votes
7answers
18k views

“between” vs. “among”

Today I was cut off in the middle of the following sentence: Between Cook, Strauss, and Pietersen— My friend said I was wrong. He said that for more than two entities, among/amongst are used, ...
3
votes
3answers
10k views

What date range is being referred to when someone says {date} is in the first week of {month}?

Conversely, what about: {date} is in the last week of {month}? Is the first week of April the first week that is entirely in April or is it the first week that contains the first of April? Of course ...
4
votes
1answer
165 views

Origin of alternate meanings

How do some words get alternate meanings that have nothing to do with their original definition? For example, the word cool means both moderately cold and permitting such a sensation. How are these ...
2
votes
1answer
1k views

Words with pronunciations more complex than spelling

The word mischievous is sometimes pronounced with a long e sound between the v and the last vowel (mis-chee-vee-us), although this is controversial. Is there a name for this type of word, where the ...
6
votes
1answer
875 views

Etymology of “gladhand” (truck hose coupler)

References for "glad hand" in its common meaning of "effusive but perhaps insincere greeting" seem easy to find [1], and it's easy to find definitions for the truck-hose-coupler meaning of gladhand [2]...
3
votes
2answers
6k views

“shameful” vs “shameless” [closed]

I have seen shameful and shameless being used interchangeably, but it is surprising that they would mean the same. Is there a difference?
0
votes
3answers
251 views

Meaning of “suits trading airport stories”

It's still from this sentence in New York Times, Despite all the sartorial trappings, guests dressed like any in your typical off-the-rack hotel. On a recent Monday, there were F.I.T. parents in ...
0
votes
1answer
901 views

What does “F.I.T.” stand for here?

Context (New York Times), Despite all the sartorial trappings, guests dressed like any in your typical off-the-rack hotel. On a recent Monday, there were F.I.T. parents in the slate-gray lobby, ...
7
votes
1answer
814 views

What is the meaning of the idiom “Like the Nation”?

In the book The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn there are several curious references to "the nation". For example, in chapter 22: And at last, sure enough, [...] the horse broke loose, and away he ...
-1
votes
3answers
222 views

“Over-protected” or “over-secured”

A person I know is always well-protected by his mother. His mother goes with him whenever he goes, he is already 26 years. Which word sounds more correct for me to use as in the following sentence? (...
2
votes
3answers
8k views

What is a “kinetic” military operation?

General John Allen reports US soldiers killed a group of Taliban: "We dealt with them in a kinetic strike." What's the meaning of "kinetic" here? Timothy Noah says the word is used to designate ...
1
vote
6answers
6k views

The more complete 'Poor you'

In sentences like "Go home," the 'You' is implied, as in 'You go home.' What would be the implied words/full form of the sentence "Poor you"? It certainly isn't "You are poor." ** I am editing this ...
2
votes
1answer
489 views

Add one more level of indirection in ownership description: “Peter teacher's car”?

If I want to describe a car owned by Peter, I will say "Peter's car". But how do I describe the car his teacher owns? "Peter teacher's car" or do I have to be descriptive: "the car of Peter's teacher"...
0
votes
1answer
830 views

“pop bottles all night” - slang or valid term?

I know the meaning of "pop bottles all night" - drink all night long. My question is - is this valid term, or slang invented by the person who wrote the song?
3
votes
2answers
360 views

Are there words that refer to the different duration of months?

I had a hard time formulating the question, but I wonder if a month with 31 days has a specific name, Likewise months with 30, 29 and 28 days.
2
votes
3answers
2k views

Proper punctuation for joining pro-sentence with independent clause

I recently said the following in chat: Do you mean 90 cents, or 9 cents? 90 cents. Okay, you left out the zero so I wasn't sure. Afterwards it occurred to me I could have replaced the comma ...
15
votes
4answers
8k views

Pronunciation of “er” in “farmer” vs. “earth”

I'm confused about the difference in pronouncing "er" in words such as "farmer" and "earth". I hear them the same, but they have different phonetic symbols. Is there any difference in pronouncing "er" ...
3
votes
2answers
6k views

What does the phrase “putting them in time out” mean?

I have a sentence, but there is an expression I can't understand. Could someone explain it to me? Here it is: "You should treat your employees like adults instead of putting them in time out like ...
1
vote
3answers
137 views

“Had entries” or “had an entry”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: "Only those who qualify will be awarded a certificate" or "Only those who qualify will be awarded certificates"? In this question, there is a part that ...
11
votes
4answers
4k views

Is ‘Take something cum grano salis’ a popular phrase? Can I use it in casual conversation?

I came across the phrase, ‘cum grano salis’ in the article written by Chris Cillizza, a political pundit in the August 8th Washington Post’s article under the title ‘GOP smells blood in Presidential ...
12
votes
3answers
92k views

Correct use of “circa”

I understand the use of circa / c. as it applies to approximating dates. However, I have a writer who (over)uses the word in other contexts. Examples: ... from circa early 1990's up until circa 8 ...
2
votes
4answers
2k views

Explain the verb tense in “I wish I never woke up this morning”

This is from a song by Police, Darkness: "I can dream up schemes when I'm sitting in my seat I don't see any flaws 'til I get to my feet I wish I never woke up this morning Life was easy ...
8
votes
7answers
4k views

What is the “superlative” way of expressing “thank you”

On rare occasions, you are in a situation where a simple Thank You seems like you're undermining the other person's help. You know, instances where you are too grateful to express your feelings of ...
2
votes
2answers
705 views

'to'-infinitive without the verb

I seem to recall reading somewhere that using a to-infinitive with the actual verb omitted (because it's clear from context) — as in He asked me to go, but I don't want to. (1) — is ...
8
votes
3answers
2k views

Is there a name for inverting word order to accomplish a different meaning?

There are many sayings that invert the word order to convey a different meaning. e.g. "Do you live to work or do you work to live?" "He who fails to plan, plans to fail" Is there a name for this ...
5
votes
9answers
3k views

An experiment without a hypothesis?

An experiment is normally intended to test a hypothesis. Is there a noun or phrase to describe an experiment with no hypothesis -- i.e. doing something just to 'see what happens'? (A convincing ...
1
vote
4answers
2k views

What is the name of this figure of speech?

I've been reading Nevil Shute books recently, and they are set in late-1940s Britain. As a consequence, the characters are always using expressions such as "frightfully good", "terribly good" and "...

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