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38

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 ...


31

maybe is an adverb, meaning perhaps or possibly. may be is a verbal construction, formed of the modal verb may and the verb be, which can be used in sentences like “he may be in the office today”. Note that, if you were to rewrite this sentence with maybe, you would say “maybe he is in the office today”. Because maybe is an adverb, you need to add a verb to ...


30

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 ...


28

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 ...


22

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 ...


18

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 ...


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 ...


14

Maybe is an adverb, with means possibly or perhaps; may be is a verbal phrase. Maybe you are wrong. It may be true. As per the origin, the NOAD reports that the origin of maybe is late Middle English, from the phrase it may be (that).


13

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 ...


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

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 ...


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

"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 ...


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.


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 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 ...


9

A common phrase for this is: You're trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. The idea is that you can't fit a square peg in a round hole; you should be using a circular peg instead. Other than that, feel free to pick your favorite from one of these: You're using the wrong tool. You should use a voltage meter. You shouldn't use an ammeter, ...


9

Using about to in this way is intended to create a sense of immediacy or urgency. If the company is "about to" go on a hiring spree, they will probably begin the hiring spree as soon as they can. As another example: I'm about to empty the garbage. A listener can assume I'm probably standing in front of the garbage can and I might have already removed ...


9

In English, the phrasal verb cut off is not the same as the verb cut. Cut certainly means "shorten, shave, shear, or slice". But off is not a preposition in the phrasal verb cut off - instead, the off modifies the meaning of the main verb. In this case off means something like "completely, drastically". For another example, look at eat up. When you eat a ...


9

They both describe the same action, so you could use either. They have different nuances, both of which work against John's case: Commit is in this sense almost always used of a misdeed. We do not "commit a brave rescue plan", we only commit crimes, murders, misdeeds, sins, misdemeanors, assaults, and so on. As such, it carries with it a suggestion of ...


8

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 ...


8

"wake up" and "throw up" are phrasal verbs. A phrasal verb is a combination of a verb and a preposition, a verb and an adverb, or a verb with both an adverb and a preposition, any of which are part of the syntax of the sentence, and so are a complete semantic unit. Sentences may contain direct and indirect objects in addition to the ...


8

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 ...


8

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 ...


8

Particle movement is possible with phrasal verbs when they are transitive, as is the case with all your examples. However, when the object of a transitive phrasal verb is a pronoun, the particle is almost always placed after the object. That means that My wife backed up me and Please help out me do not occur, but both forms of the other two sentences can.


8

Some rules of thumb: if the preposition indicates a genuine "direction" or essentially carries its 'intrinsic value' as a preposition, then it comes before the noun or pronoun as you would expect with a preposition. For example: He turned off the motorway. He ran out the room. Notice how in these cases, you can often take away the prepositional phrase and ...



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