Questions tagged [collocation]

Collocation refers to the appearance or occurrence of groups or pairs of words, particularly when more frequent than random chance would suggest.

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71 votes
5 answers
639k views

"Fill out a form" or "fill in a form"

Does one fill out a form or does one fill in a form? I've gotten different answers from the people I've asked. Google search results: fill in a form — 14,200,000 fill out a form — 7,000,000
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25 votes
5 answers
246k views

What's the difference between "speak" and "talk", grammatically speaking?

There are a number of questions e.g. What is the difference between “speaking” and “talking”? and “Speak to” vs. “Speak with” that deal with the slightly different connotations of the words "speak" ...
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  • 501
12 votes
6 answers
39k views

When to use words quite, rather, pretty, fairly etc: degree of downtoning

Is there any logic to this or just decision? I would use the following combinations: quite amazing rather large pretty good I would not use the following combinations: pretty amazing quite large ...
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1 vote
2 answers
1k views

Can the word “go” be used as a helping verb?

For instance: “Go eat your dinner.” It appears that the word “go” is being used as a helping verb. Is it being used a helping verb? If so, can “go” only be used as a helping verb in imperative ...
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22 votes
3 answers
16k views

Why is it "ladies and gentlemen" instead of "gentlemen and ladies"? [duplicate]

Is there a specific reason for this? After all, it is "boys and girls", rather than "girls and boys". If the boy (male) comes first here, why doesn't it come first in "ladies and gentlemen"?
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  • 513
9 votes
4 answers
248k views

"Elder brother" or "older brother"?

I've read both forms in newspapers and online news: elder brother and older brother. What's the difference between them? When should I use which?
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6 votes
1 answer
7k views

Using "respectively" with "and" vs. "or"

Is it acceptable usage to use "or" with "respectively", or is it possible only with "and"? Example: If the light changes from red to blue or from blue to red, you must catch or throw the ball, ...
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  • 61
2 votes
3 answers
29k views

Is the sentence "I want to take a rest" wrong?

I heard that we should use "I want to rest" instead of "I want to take a rest." I also heard that "I want to take a rest" is not a sentence a native speaker would use. Is that correct? Should we ...
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  • 839
54 votes
6 answers
715k views

"Call me through/at/on this number"

What is the difference between the following when referring to telephone calls? Please call me on this number. You can reach me on this number. Please call me at this number. You can reach me at ...
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17 votes
2 answers
125k views

Is it "expert in" or "expert on"?

When would you use "expert in" and when would you use "expert on"? A quick google search yields about the same for both, but I have a feeling "expert in" can occur in sentences somehow with a ...
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17 votes
5 answers
229k views

"Centered on" or "centered around"

I have often heard presenters talking about something centered around another thing, but it seems a bit illogical and hence improper to talk like this. Am I right about this?
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9 votes
4 answers
62k views

"Take a degree" or "do a degree"

In university I learned that we say to do a degree in X but I saw many other sources where it says to take a degree in X. Which is correct? Is there a regional difference?
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  • 301
2 votes
4 answers
19k views

Preposition for "to be qualified"

Would you please tell me whether the following fragment is grammatically correct? ...led me to be qualified in various science Olympiads. For instance, I ranked 21st among... I know that "...
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  • 37
8 votes
5 answers
53k views

"Nervous" vs. "anxious"

Are these words interchangeable? When would you use one over the other? For example, is it correct to say you "feel nervous" or "feel anxious"? Is it correct to say you are an "anxious person" or a "...
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  • 183
5 votes
4 answers
11k views

If I can "fall in" love, can I "fall in" depression?

In Italian we say essere innamorato (to be in love) whereas the English idiom, to fall in love, expresses the idea of abandonment, of letting oneself go. mi sono innamorato = I am in love, and ...
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4 votes
4 answers
12k views

What is the correct verb for 'driving' a ferry?

The captain of a ferry appears to steer or drive it. What is the correct verb for this?
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  • 2,598
15 votes
5 answers
8k views

I'm a bit "green around the gills"

Green about the gills is a common British English expression that is used when someone is feeling queasy, or about to vomit or be sick (there's that AmEng and BrEng divide once again). Cambridge ...
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13 votes
4 answers
10k views

Can "shrugging" only be done with shoulders?

Please compare He shrugged. and He shrugged his shoulders. Is there anything else that can be shrugged, besides shoulders? To me it sounds like duplication when used in this way. I'm aware of ...
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  • 3,167
4 votes
2 answers
21k views

"Explain the reason why" [duplicate]

Is it natural to say "he explained the reason why he was late"? I suspect that it doesn't make sense. But I reckon "That is the reason why he's sick" is acceptable with "the reason". Could it be ...
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  • 1,891
3 votes
1 answer
1k views

switch genders or gender?

Recently I read an article on Wired.com "Apple Hires Hacker Who Helped Save Windows From Security Hell", http://www.wired.com/wiredenterprise/2012/12/apple-hires-hacker/ Here is a sentence I'm kind ...
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0 votes
1 answer
11k views

"Rise in" vs. "rise of"

What’s the difference between "rise in" and "rise of"? Specifically, I am looking at the sentence: The rise __ juvenile crime is attributed to three factors. Which preposition should I choose?
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0 votes
2 answers
5k views

collocation with over, down, out [duplicate]

I'm completely confused when it comes to the combinations with over / down / out: Thank you for coming over / - coming down / - coming out. Come over here / - down here / - out here. Over ...
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  • 241
29 votes
6 answers
314k views

What is the difference between "sardonic" and "sarcastic"?

Basically, sardonic and sarcastic both stand for mocking gestures, but what is the difference in their contextual use? Are there any other words that represent a similar gesture?
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  • 1,370
8 votes
5 answers
187k views

”Demand in/on/for something”

I am not sure whether to use in, on, or for after the word demand in the following sentence: The continuing demand on high-quality software that is reusable and easy to maintain and modify after ...
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8 votes
7 answers
3k views

"Finnish Swedes" or "Swedish Finns"?

In Finland, there live 5.6 % Swedes (https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/fi.html). They have lived there for many generations, being standard Finnish citizens, just ...
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  • 3,973
5 votes
0 answers
11k views

"Particular" vs. "specific" [closed]

The Free Dictionary lists particular and specific as synonyms, but there still seems to be a subtle distinction between the two. What is that distinction? In a phrase along the lines of: the [...
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  • 210
14 votes
2 answers
127k views

"Starting with" vs. "starting from"

I would like to ask about the difference between the two phrases starting with and starting from. Take the following two sentences for example: Please give me all the names starting with A. ...
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  • 143
11 votes
3 answers
13k views

Why are things often "very tasty", but rarely "very delicious"

When I saw this ELL question it struck me that very delicious didn't sound vary "natural" to me. Checking Google NGrams, I find that relatively speaking, toothsome food is five times more likely to ...
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4 votes
1 answer
22k views

"Why don't you..." question with the verb "be"

I am confused about how to use "Why don't you...?" with the verb be. I know that we can use "Why don't you" with other verbs as in: Why don't you go with me? However, I'm not sure if we can use ...
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12 votes
3 answers
11k views

Make/take a photograph?

In English we say "take a photograph" whereas in some other languages one would say "make a photograph". The French say "take" even though they "make" far more often than we do in English, and ...
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  • 832
5 votes
2 answers
210 views

which is suitable for wine, "sourness" or "acidity"?

Which adjective is suitable for tastes of wine? And why? I'd like to know which expression you usually use and if there is any difference. More context: I had a chance to translate ”酸味”, which ...
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5 votes
1 answer
4k views

"Function defined on/over the set A"

For the mathematically inclined fellows: If f is a function whose domain is the set A, do you say that f is defined on A or over A? Do both prepositions apply here or is the use of one of them ...
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3 votes
1 answer
50k views

prepositions - "increase of" vs "increase in"

Which one is correct or if both are correct, is there any difference? The change is a 10 percent increase of tuition The change is a 10 percent increase in tuition
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  • 247
3 votes
4 answers
59k views

"Cool water" vs. "cold water" [closed]

We often use "cool water". But can we use "cool water" or "cold water"? Which is correct? Examples: I drink cool water only. People always like cool water. In the above examples, instead ...
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1 vote
2 answers
3k views

How exactly is "to checkmate" used as a transitive verb within the game of chess itself?

Merriam-Webster has this definition of checkmate: checkmate transitive verb 1: to arrest, thwart, or counter completely 2: to check (a chess opponent's king) so that escape is impossible ...
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  • 3,973
0 votes
2 answers
571 views

What is a better antonym pair than “upmost” vs. “deepest” for blood vessels?

I’m thinking about the opposite ends of a blood vessel, so perhaps the “upmost” blood vessels and “deepest” blood vessels. My problem is that I like neither word quoted in the previous sentence. ...
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3 votes
2 answers
123 views

What's the reason for the word order of "would sooner have"?

I'm a native speaker from the UK, but after living for more than 10 years in a foreign country, I'm beginning to notice how my English is getting much worse. The other day, I came across a phrase that ...
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3 votes
3 answers
694 views

What preposition do we use with the adjective 'telling' when it means 'revealing'?

Example I: "How telling this is [of/about] the way international students continue to be perceived by their American peers on U.S. campuses?" Example II: "Public opinion is telling [of/...
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  • 1,960
2 votes
3 answers
9k views

Dreams come true or they are fulfilled. What about 'hopes'?

Let's say things went the way we had hoped they would. Would it be appropriate, then, to say, 'our hopes were fulfilled' or is there a more acceptable or better expression? Apparently, 'things went ...
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  • 328
2 votes
1 answer
7k views

Is "fly like a bird" an example of collocation? [closed]

Is the simile phrase: flying like a bird an example of collocation, with the close ‘expected’ relationship between flying and bird?
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  • 23
1 vote
1 answer
3k views

Which verb should I use that means to have somebody's trust for a long time? [closed]

What is the right verb for when we want others' trust for a long period? Do we keep, retain or preserve their trust ... ? Example: By speaking only the truth I can ... their trust for a long ...
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  • 2,543
1 vote
1 answer
10k views

"Take advantage" vs. "make advantage"

I'm worried that 'take advantage' could have a slightly negative connotation. Could you say "make advantage [of a situation]"?
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  • 139
1 vote
4 answers
24k views

Love in a hating way

Is there a single word (or a two-word phrase at least) that means "love in a hating way (hatefully, execrably)"? There is the term "Love–hate relationship" but it is more of a ...
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  • 54k
1 vote
3 answers
46k views

“I am hungry/hunger of/for knowledge” [closed]

I am not sure which one is the correct one: A: I am hungry of knowledge. B: I hunger of knowledge. C: I am hungry for knowledge. D: I hunger for knowledge. But my feeling says that A and B ...
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1 vote
3 answers
2k views

"give me five" and "slap me five", any difference?

What's the meaning of "slap me five"? Any difference between "slap me five" and "give me five"? There is a book called Slap Me Five.
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  • 5,557
0 votes
4 answers
1k views

Electrical/electric [duplicate]

Which is correct: Electric power engineering student Electrical power engineering student
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-2 votes
6 answers
926 views

Is “tell advice” not idiomatic over “give advice”?

I was told by some users @Shoe and @Greybeard that “tell [...] advice” is not a collocation used by native speakers at all, “give advice” is the only expression used. So I investigated to see whether ...
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  • 1,064