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41

At least in my experience, "I'm a sucker for X" means that I am drawn to X regardless of what other characteristics X may have. The connection to sucker meaning something like loser, therefore, is that someone who is a sucker for something may get into a bad situation as a result, or at the very least enjoys X to a degree that seems injudicious and ...


35

How can I explain to people that the phrase "off of" is grammatically incorrect? You can't, because it's not. There are thousands of examples of “off of” in the Corpus of Contemporary American English, not just in spoken English, but in magazines, newspapers, and academic journals as well. “Off of” is well-established as standard in American English. Plain ...


29

There's more than a hair's breadth of difference between these two statements! The first simply means she had a haircut. Maybe she is now sporting a new style, or maybe she just had a trim. The second means that her hair has been cut drastically short, if not completely shaved. It might be used if she once had very long hair, but, after her latest trip ...


28

It appears that this is a British/American distinction. The Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA) reports 92 incidences of “fill out a/the/this form” and just 2 of “fill in a/the/this form”, clearly establishing “fill out” as the standard idiom in American English. I haven’t worked out how to search the British National Corpus yet, but I wouldn’t be ...


26

To go off in this sense is related to the expression to set off, meaning to start or to be started. It implies that the subject was in a state of rest, then moved off from that state into action. The phrasal verb to go on already has the meaning of to continue.


20

My take is that "burn up" comes from some sense that the thing is used up (fuel is used and is gone). "Burn down" means the thing has "burned down to the ground" in that all structure and support is gone. One might say that "all my stuff was burned up in the fire when my house burned down." You'd be less likely to hear "my house burned up," but it is not ...


20

OP is right to suspect active/passive has a bearing on preferred usage. From Google Books... 1: Active voice favours with... The company replaced workers by machines - 3 results The company replaced workers with machines - 405 results 2: Passive voice favours by... Workers were replaced by machines - 280 results Workers were replaced ...


17

Not quite - you fill out a form by filling in your information; on the other hand, the individual boxes can also be filled in. So it's "fill out" for the whole form; "fill in" for the individual fields and for the information that goes in them. "Filling out" can also be used in a human-developmental sense; a grandmother might say of her granddaughter whom ...


16

The phrase "off of" has a long history, which, according to the OED, stretches back roughly 500 years. If you want to consider it to be "wrong", then it certainly has a lot of staying power. Here are their quotations using "off of": ?c1450 in G. Müller Aus mittelengl. Medizintexten (1929) 116 Take a sponfull of e licour..of of e fyir and sette it ...


16

"Write down" is an idiom which means "make a note of", or "get something written". "Write up" is an idiom which means "write an account, record or essay" about something.


15

This is my favorite: What you're doing is like slicing a loaf of bread with a hammer.


14

Usually when applied to a verb involving speech, out involves the addressing of a group, normally a non-specific group, as in "anyone who will listen." John spoke out when he saw injustice being done. Mary shouted out for help. The bailiff read out the charges against the defendant. In other words, all who could hear were being addressed in ...


13

"How it turns out" is also often phrased in the form of, "tell me how it went". "turn" and "went" are directly related, as "went" comes from an old word "wend", which means "turn". Isn't that interesting? When you ask how something went, you are literally asking how something "turned" out. Went is the past tense of go. Turn represents just that, rotation ...


13

There is a related proverb, that says: If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail which means, according to the Wiktionary: With limited tools, single-minded people apply them inappropriately or indiscriminately If a person is familiar with a certain, single subject/has with them a certain, single instrument, they may have a ...


12

Actually to pick something and to pick something up have two distinct meanings: To pick something coneys the idea of selecting something out of a group of things. To pick something up refers to the action of taking something up from somewhere (the floor, the table etc.) In your sentences you are specifically referring to 'pieces that slipped from my ...


12

As has been suggested in other answers, it is not very suitable in formal writing. Here are some alternatives you might consider: amount to be reduced to be a matter of be in essence


11

Either would suffice, but #2 is more natural. Actually, most natural would be: I'm trying to wake up and get out of bed.


11

Compared to "resign", "step down" has a connotation of an amicable parting with the possibility of a continuing relationship. The word "resign" is often used when employee parts employer over some disagreement or other negative cause. If I recall correctly, Bill Gates' active role at Microsoft changed several times without him severing all activity at the ...


11

This Google Ngram shows that poring through is highly uncommon, whilst poring over is common. I have never heard poring through before, only poring over. Technically, both are correct, but poring over is more common.


11

Boil down to is not informal. It can be used even in formal writing.


11

An English idiom which has the derogatory, perjorative connotations you describe is "out of his depth". Quoting from Dictionary.com: out of (or beyond) one's depth: in water deeper than one's height or too deep for one's safety. beyond one's knowledge or capability The image it conjures in my mind is a swimmer who has strayed too far ...


10

Give up and give in do have similar meanings that are very close to surrender. However, compare the examples of give up and give in from the the Merriam-Webster dictionary: don't give up on the project forced to give up his job refused to give up her efforts give in and have some chocolat after withstanding hours of begging, their father finally gave in ...


10

Both are correct. It depends on the circumstances. I would "write things down" when the purpose was to help remember them- "I need to write things down or I will forget them in a few days." I would "write things up" when the purpose was to summarize for distribution or publication- "I'll write up the notes from the meeting and send them out this ...


10

In a word, context. The simplest way would be to initially assume it's not a phrasal verb, then ask yourself, "Does the sentence make sense?" Consider: He ran up a big bill - this wouldn't make much sense, not unless there was some huge bill stretched across a hilly landscape, big enough to take literal strides on. Another trick might be to replace the ...


10

The informal rule is a stylistic one. Keep the complement as close as possible. That really helps me out. Clearly this is not a lot of separation, and to phrase it "helps out me" would sound awkward and awful. That really helps out the children who are starving every day in Africa. To put "out" at the end would simply require the reader or ...


10

The origin was discussed here origin of sucker: “young mammal before it is weaned”, late 14c., agent noun from suck. Slang meaning “person who is easily deceived” is first attested 1836, in American English, on notion of naivete; the verb in this sense is from 1939. But another theory traces the slang meaning to the fish called a ...


10

Although the phrase can mean that, and often does, it's also sometimes applied in a more broad context. To be "swept off your feet" is to be surprised, enthralled, exhilarated. Critics can be swept off their feet by an epic film; operagoers can be swept off their feet by a beautiful aria, etc. As for how sweeping became associated with love, that's ...


9

You are more likely to encounter speak with in American English, which employs the verb + with construction (speak with, meet with) very much more than British English does. I remember hearing a clip of Laura Bush speaking on the radio (I think to the people of Afghanistan) and saying how pleased she was to be "speaking with you" and to British English ...



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