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Questions tagged [literary-english]

Questions related to English vocabulary, forms, phrases, and syntax that is now more commonly seen in written literature than in everyday speech.

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What is the meaning of this?

I saw a person saying to his friend (right before he was about to leave) you will always be a part of me What does this actually mean?
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Is it acceptable to use “us” instead of “we” for emphasis? Example: “Why do us humans tend to be so emotional?” I

I know "us" is a direct object only and "we" is grammatically correct, but can it be used for literary or emphasizing effect?
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Is there any word for a place full of confusion?

I am searching for a word for a place which is full of confusion. I tried searching but couldn't find any link. This website mentions nothing. https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/confused Merriam-...
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29 views

“This/That is, ” used at the beginning of a sentence to clarify a concept from the previous sentence

According to an English native speaker who works with me, the "This is" bit in the following sentence should be replaced by "That is": In fact, the feature space need not be unique. This is, for a ...
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1answer
56 views

Phrase meaning of equal parts

IN THE CUT-THROAT realm of reality TV, “Wanted Down Under” is a survivor. A daytime fixture that has just finished its 13th season, the BBC documentary follows Britons contemplating relocating to ...
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1answer
45 views

Is it OK to use two consecutive 'that' in a sentence? [duplicate]

Is the usage of 2 consecutive 'that' in the following sentence correct, because it looks a bit odd? Should these be separated by comma perhaps? "While I agree that strength and size definitely gives ...
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1answer
55 views

Is it possible to use present and past in one sentence?

In On The Road Jack admits to Justin W. Brierly that he loves Neal Cassady because he reminds him of his brother, Gerard, who dies when Jack was five years old. Is this grammatical? The first part of ...
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1answer
70 views

Meaning of 'a feller' in “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”

I would like to ask about the meaning a sentence from the following conversation between Tom and Huck from Chapter 27: "No, not rot him. FIND him! Track the money!" "Tom, we'll never find him. ...
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1answer
49 views

Usage of “it's to”

When I finally wake up, it's to his arm slung over me, holding me close to his chest. The sentence above is the extract of a reading source. What possibly could be the meaning of "it's to..."? ...
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3answers
210 views

Origin of the phrase “poles asunder”?

1906: President Roosevelt and Mr. Hearst stand as far as the poles asunder. 1899: Two writers of Marrano origin, wide as the poles asunder in gifts of mind and character ... 1795: ... they ...
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1answer
196 views

Word for a person who is overly demanding of artists

I'm trying to recall the word used to describe someone tyrannically demanding of talent/artists/actors. A despot. Singali? Pretty sure it's the name of a character from a book. Maybe killed them in ...
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648 views

Why is it “Who be ye?” and not “Who are ye?” in archaic forms of English?

When I was looking for “ye” in a dictionary, I stumbled upon the phrase “Who be ye?”. But why is it “Who be ye?” and not “Who are ye?”? The modern equivalent of “ye” would be “you”, wouldn’t it? “Who ...
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Thematic comparison of 'collaborative' vs 'collective' in literature or culture

I'm trying to brand a product with either the word 'collaborative' or 'collective', but I am having trouble imagining what the well known thematic usage is with either word. I've always seen them ...
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2answers
318 views

Do people actually address their male child “Son” rather than a name, in real life English, or is this mainly a written English usage?

I regularly see films, books, stories and other English usages in which a person uses the term "son" where one might normally use a name. Usually, it's a father and they're portrayed in a reasonably ...
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2answers
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Is this sentence from Orwell's Animal Farm grammatically sound?

Should been really have been included in the following passage from George Orwell’s Animal Farm, or was this somehow an erroneous insertion of a spurious word? Illustration from p. 17 of the 1990 ...
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2answers
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Pride and Prejudice, what does: “decline the office, I will take it on myself” mean?

"I honour your circumspection. A fortnight's acquaintance is certainly very little. One cannot know what a man really is by the end of a fortnight. But if we do not venture somebody else will; and ...
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7answers
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What is this strange sentence by Walt Whitman?

The future is no more uncertain than the present. —Walt Whitman This is supposed to mean "The future is certain, just like the present." But it means the opposite... I learnt in school that no more ...
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“How will history remember” vs “How history will remember”? [duplicate]

Context: there is a war going on. Actual use: A difficult winter is heading their way. But Jonas means to change all that. He finds himself wondering how will history remember this day. MS Word ...
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1answer
670 views

What does “to fall to upon” mean here?

And they fell to upon their frugal supper. (From Vanity Fair) I can only find either to fall to, or to fall on / upon, but never to fall to on / upon.
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1answer
383 views

Is “Light of moon and ray of star” an idiom?

What is the literary device used for the following quote from The Fellowship of the Ring : By light of moon and ray of star I think that it is an idiom.... I may be wrong!
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0answers
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Name of part of Cormac McCarthy's writing style [duplicate]

Cormac McCarthy has several idiosyncracies in his writing style, but I'm looking for the name of a specific style he employs: When he joins together several actions or clauses with "and". Example ...
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1answer
169 views

Confusing sentence in an 1858 novel by George MacDonald

I’m not a native English speaker, and I was reading George MacDonald’s fantasy novel of 1858 Phantastes: A Faerie Romance for Men and Women. Everything was going fine but suddenly I saw this ...
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1answer
449 views

Is “forsought” right in this case?

I was trying to write a poem in an old fashioned way and I wished to use the verb forseek in a verse, but when I searched about this verb I found that it isn't widely used not even in old texts (if it ...
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1answer
530 views

'Seems to have got'

Is there anything odd about the following sentence? 'It seems to have got colder.' I am not a native English speaker. I came across this sentence in a book (Orwell's 1984) recently and am not able ...
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1answer
2k views

Why isn't it appropriate to use an exclamation point in an essay? And how can I get around that? [closed]

I am currently writing a research essay for my English twelve class, and we are not allowed any exclaimation points whatsoever. But this one sentence is something I feel absolutely requires it! HELP: ...
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Where can I ommit “a” and “the” articles? [duplicate]

Should I allways use "a" article, when something is indefinite? And should I allways use "the" article, when something is definite? Where can I ommit these articles?
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4answers
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What is the name of the term for character facial expressions showing meaning in a play?

Last year I learnt the term for a character's facial expressions showing the audience what they feel, as well as their tone of voice in the stage directions when reading a play. I am currently writing ...
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1answer
4k views

Is there any relation between the meanings of the word “cataract”?

Oxford defines "cataract" as "a steep waterfall" as well as gives the more common meaning of the word i.e. the medical condition that causes a loss of sight. Also, "cataract", as meaning "waterfall",...
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2answers
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What do you call someone who (over)uses archaic terms and expressions while writing?

I came across a literary article from one of my cousin's numerous English books. The author, in what I presume to be an effort to showcase their vocabulary and command over English, seems to have ...
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1answer
172 views

Help explain what “miseries were as vast as the sky” mean [closed]

I'm totally confused about the use of this phrase in this situation: After Margaret Sanger saw the worst of many women who had to do abortion with abortionists, they suffered from physical pains ...
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1answer
1k views

A word for someone that loves learning/ curious, has wonder about the world In general [duplicate]

I need a word that describes the love of learning, discovering, or it could even be a word that describes a curious person.
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2answers
213 views

The fine line between stilted and sloppy

I received a comment to one of my questions that I would like to elaborate on. Because the inversion of word order in the original makes it sound a little stilted The original question yielded two ...
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1answer
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What is it called when some pronounces their “s” sounds sharply

I've long noticed that when it comes to pronouncing words containing an "s" sound, their are those that pronounce it softly and those that pronounce it sharply. I have always wanted to put a name to ...
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7answers
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What do we call 'Shakespearean trash-talk'?

A classic example: In the opening scene of Richard II, Henry Bolingbroke and Mowbray seeks the adjudication of the king. They hurl accusations of treachery and cowardliness at each other. They ...
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1answer
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Help formulating: an object is held on the forearm, leaning against the breast

There's simply no way I can think of formulating this in a nice way :(. I got a character in my short story that's carrying a heavy cube. I want to say that the cube is leaning on her breast. You know,...
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3answers
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What does it mean by “bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of…” in Lincoln's 2nd inaugural adress?

I'm not sure who is the bondsman and why his wealth matters here. Here is the quote, from the paragraph of Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the ...
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4answers
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Why did English change so much between Chaucer and Shakespeare?

My inexpert perception of things is that the distance between The Canterbury Tales (end 14th century) and Romeo and Juliet (end 16th), from a language perspective, is vast, and vastly greater than the ...
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3answers
8k views

Therefore vs. wherefore [closed]

I saw these words in The Silmarillion: Then there was unrest among the Ainur; but Ilúvatar called to them, and said: ‘I know the desire of your minds that what ye have seen should verily be, not ...
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6answers
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What does “better angel” mean in Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural address?

I'm reading the book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. It mentioned that Lincoln replaced the phase "guardian angel" to "better angel". I don't understand what the phrase means. ...
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3answers
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What does this “Change” mean in Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’?

The word Change doesn't seem to make much sense in this quote from A Christmas Carol. To emphasis the sentence, I kept it in bold-type. MARLEY was dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever ...
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3answers
12k views

Is 'sluttish time' a metaphor?

The phrase 'sluttish time' is used by Shakespeare in one of his sonnets. Can it be termed as a transferred epithet as the word 'sluttish' here seems to be an epithet(adjective) or is it essentially a ...
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1answer
211 views

Is there a more proper way to denote the question-and-answer literature, as title of academic work? [closed]

In a context of an academic publication addressing readers favoring British English, what would be the better way to denote the "Questions and Answers" genre? I am looking for a more specialised way ...
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4answers
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What does “ 'Nation ” stand for in this context?

I was reading the novel A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. In Chapter 2, there are sentences like: “I hope there ain’t, but can’t make so ’Nation sure of that,” said the guard, in gruff ...
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3answers
4k views

Collective noun for lightning(s) / thunderbolts

What is the collective noun for lightning(s) / thunderbolts? A ________ of thunderbolts/lightning(s) Can we use the plural form of lightning with a collective noun? Or should it stay in singular ...
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3answers
441 views

Semantic shift in “around”

I'm interested in the use of "around" as a synomym for "about, concerning, related to", which doesn't seem to be recorded in current dictionaries. I'd call it an academic/pseudo-academic usage and tho'...
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1answer
970 views

Meaning of “bile” from Great Expectations

In the book Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, the character Joe tells Pip, “Somebody must keep the pot a biling, Pip, or the pot won’t bile, don't you know?” What does the word bile mean in ...
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1answer
322 views

Use of “nay” - still current?

I get the sense that the interjection nay is seen as outdated and used only for humorous effect. Is this assumption true, or is it still acceptable in serious writing?
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3answers
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Is “oftener” obsolete?

Does any native speaker of the English Language ever use oftener instead of more often?
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2answers
2k views

Is the word, “kinda-sorta” accepted as a normal word to be used in writing?

I was drawn to the word, “kinda, sorta” which appeared in the article of Time magazine (April 27) under the headline, “The Clippers Should Have Boycotted Game After Owner’s Racist Remarks”: The ...
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2answers
214 views

Can “lackadaisical” be used in literature?

Has lackadaisical ever been used in literary works? My Oxford Dictionary of Quotations has no quotation that includes this word. Who first used lackadaisical in the 1760s as the OED claims?