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I don't regard myself as particularly interested in English language and usage, but it is undeniable that I've often discussed them with friends.

I used to think my friends and I spent way too much time arguing details, but the experts on English StackExchange definitely have taken that to a new level (with plenty of newbie biting and antisocial behavior). So this is not a place I enjoy spending much time on, although I appreciate the good advice sprinkled throughout by the less ego-driven, well-meaning contributors.

Relevant info to know about me:

  • Native fluency in American English
  • Descriptivist

Aug
19
comment What are some uncommon but valid portmanteau words that people use?
The OP asked for "uncommon" examples. Televangelist, soundscape, napalm, alphanumeric, sysop, smog, pixel, sitcom, newscast... (and more if I took a closer look) are common examples.
Aug
19
comment What does “Drop and give me twenty, America’ in ‘Paul Ryan’s song of himself’ mean?
@J.R. thanks for the comment. I didn't see it when revising my answer, but I think I've incorporated a bit of what you said.
Aug
19
comment “Comparing” vs “A comparison of ”
Neither of the claims "a gerund is a verbal noun" and "a verbal noun is a noun" require me to show every noun is a verbal noun. The first claim just means that 'gerund' belongs to the group 'verbal noun' and the second claim just means that 'verbal noun' belongs to the group 'noun'. Together they imply that 'gerund' belongs to the group 'noun'. This does not mean gerunds and nouns are the same thing. In particular, this does not mean a given noun such as 'car' is a gerund. Neither can you conclude that 'car' is a verbal noun.
Aug
19
comment Do I need a comma after “when in (%time)”?
@terdon According to Larry Trask's Guide to Punctuation, the kind of commas under discussion ("bracketing commas") are for "weak interruptions", and "In many cases a weak interruption does not absolutely require bracketing commas."
Aug
19
comment “Comparing” vs “A comparison of ”
You should explain what about your link suggests a gerund is not a noun. Believe it or not, I did read it before. I suspect you think that a noun cannot have verbal properties, but that's nowhere in the definition of a noun.
Aug
19
comment “Comparing” vs “A comparison of ”
@RoaringFish Thanks for the lesson on the elephant. If you say "a gerund is a verbal noun" and "a verbal noun is a noun...", then that means a gerund is a noun. Also, just because a verbal noun is different from other kinds of nouns does not mean it is not a noun (incidentally, it's a bit ironic that you say "other nouns").
Aug
19
comment What exactly does the phrase “pass a week” mean?
@Jim that's a good point, but I don't know anybody (I think) that would respond "I passed a week" in that situation.
Aug
19
comment What is the correct form of address for a police officer?
If you're going to do that in the US, at least fake an English accent.
Aug
19
comment What is the correct form of address for a police officer?
@raxacoricofallapatorius You might not be doing anything wrong, and even if you were, you might not be aware of what it could be. But I doubt it's because you used "officer" to address a police officer.
Aug
18
comment What is a word in English that means “able to learn new things quickly”?
I think only in certain contexts would those words be acceptable for "able to learn new things quickly". For example, someone that was quickly able to learn how to garden or take care of the elderly wouldn't usually be called "clever" but a "fast learner".
Aug
18
comment “Comparing” vs “A comparison of ”
@RoaringFish The rest of the sentence is irrelevant. The sentence states a verbal noun is a noun. A noun formed in a certain way, certainly, but a noun nonetheless. Or do you believe that a sentence of the form "X is a Y formed from ..." means X is not a Y?
Aug
18
comment What exactly does the phrase “pass a week” mean?
Ambrose Bierce wrote at the end of the 19th century. It's not suprising he would use now-outdated language.
Aug
18
comment Difference between “commit suicide” and “suicide”
I suspect you are restricting to a certain class of people. I hear suicide much more than commit suicide and am skeptical about the danger of confusion. If it's common among high-schoolers, I'd say it's a natural construction and a lot of people do it (and the OP's query supports this).
Aug
18
comment How do native English speakers respond to “Thank you”?
In that vein, "sure" or "sure thing".
Aug
18
comment How do native English speakers respond to “Thank you”?
I have a suspicion you are saying "thank you" too profusely (as compared to Americans). If you thank Americans in situations where they aren't necessarily expecting thanks, you will get an "uh-huh". Such situations include holding doors open.
Aug
18
comment How do native English speakers respond to “Thank you”?
+1 for mentioning "thank you" as a possible response to "thank you" and also mentioning that sometimes you don't need to respond directly.
Aug
18
comment How do native English speakers respond to “Thank you”?
@NeilFein I assume "See you next week" would be said with a smile in the example dialogue above.
Aug
18
comment Do I need a comma after “when in (%time)”?
The phrase "in 1914" is short enough that it doesn't need commas.
Aug
18
comment “Comparing” vs “A comparison of ”
Yet your link to Wikipedia starts out with "In linguistics, a verbal noun is a noun...."
Aug
18
comment Why are words ending in “-um” and “-us” pluralized to end in “-a” and “-i”, respectively?
Good examples! I should have put a smiley after my comment; it was meant somewhat tongue-in-cheek.