Questions tagged [phrase-usage]

How and why certain phrases are used in varying ways within various contexts.

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‘Thank you’ has an exceptionally special place among ‘good’ words used as irony?

A. A. Milne, best known for his books about Winnie-the-Pooh, is much less noted as a prolific playwright of about forty plays. They are carefully crafted works that continue to entertain and delight ...
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Are there historical examples of “unchartered territory” used correctly?

People have been mistakenly saying "unchartered" instead of "uncharted" when speaking informally, but now even major news networks are doing it. E.g.: CTV News — 'Unchartered ...
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80 views

The growing popularity of “on the cusp”

The term cusp is an old one and it was first used in astrology and later in other contexts: 1580s, in astrology, "first entrance of a house in the calculation of a nativity," from Latin ...
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34 views

What does “briefly noted” mean?

I often see the expression "briefly noted" on weblog posts (and also New Yorker). In general, what does it mean to say "something is briefly noted". Some Examples: In New Yorker ...
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“Don't try to be a hero” vs “Don't try and be a hero”

"Don't try to be a hero" "Don't try and be a hero" What's the difference? They both seem to be common according to Google. Do they mean exactly the same thing? Is one more ...
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43 views

How would you refer to a collection of books written in english? [migrated]

I'm not a native english speaker so maybe I'm just overthinking and it depends on the context. I collect books in spanish and english, what I'm trying to say is "this is my collection of books in ...
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1answer
49 views

Is it okay to say “very golden”? [closed]

I left comment "very golden" on some content I liked and suddenly it felt awkward, that phrase So I wonder if it is okay to say like that
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4answers
252 views

How to ensure clarity in long sentences

I wasn't sure how to phrase the title more precisely, so I welcome suggestions or edits. Companies spend 65% of their profits on buying back their shares because CEOs are incentivised to jack up the ...
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How to word this: we should “not do something but/rather do something else”

I'm trying to figure out if the sentence below is grammatically correct. I am trying to say here "In international relations, we shouldn't stop diplomatic discussions (not leave the table), ...
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49 views

Why do we hang on “like grim death”?

The idiom to "like grim death" is widely understood to mean something such as: like grim death = With great determination. Oxford Lexico ‘we had to hold on like grim death’ Hence we find: ...
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What do you mean X? vs What do you mean by X? - Is the omission of the preposition “by” grammatical?

People sometimes say "What do you mean X", e.g. "What do you mean I'm funny?", "What do you mean I'm not going to the party? Of course I'm going!", etc. I completely ...
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What's a positive phrase to say that I quoted something not word by word

Sometimes I quote in my writing sombody else, but I do not know the exact words the other person had used. What is a concise and positive(*) phrase to describe this? I found different options on the ...
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Is “everything but” here “nothing but” instead? [closed]

https://twitter.com/StevenTDennis/status/1359545601852071938 says “You called Senator Sanders everything but an ignorant slut,” Senator Kennedy said. “That is not true,” Tanden said. Does "...
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“hand something over to” or “hand over something to”?

Is there a difference in the word order in this structure? Is it the same if I say hand something over to someone and hand over something to someone? Collins uses both structures: If you hand ...
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44 views

Is “equals to,” as in “one plus one equals to two,” ungrammatical?

I study mathematics alongside many Chinese students. They will often use the phrase "equals to," as in "one plus one equals to two." Is this usage incorrect?
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Lose the thread [closed]

I just found out that the idiom “to lose the thread” exists in English. This surprised me a bit because I read a lot in English (both fiction and non-fiction, old and modern) but I've never ...
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40 views

“I'd go careful OR carefully with that”

I have recently used this expression in an answer on another site: This is not a frequent structure and I should have more knowledge in the field to discern if you can say that about algorithms. You ...
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1answer
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In a list, does 'counting from' an item includes the item itself?

I googled this up and although I found references to counting in general, not even one specifically answering this question. The reason I ask is because my Adobe PDF Printer is mysteriously gone. I ...
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Is there a difference between “move for move” and “move after move”?

On paper these two look the same to me but when I try to use them in the same context one always seems to convey a different meaning to the other (could just be me). Here are some examples to ...
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1answer
49 views

What is the difference “I made him angry” and “I got him angry”?

These are from dictionaries, and it is hard to distinguish "make somebody/something + adj" and "get somebody/something + adj" and grammar books seldom talk about them Get 18 MAKE ...
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Do I have to put ,Inc. every time I mention our company in a single article?

I write blogs for our company website, often commenting on what services our company provides, so I will usually mention our company name a few times in the article. It is a local company, but it is ...
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1answer
45 views

What is the best idiomatic phrase for 'This is not going to happen'?

English is not my first language, but I do communicate a lot in non formal setting with UK born and bred very nice people. From where I come there a plenty of ways to say "This is not going to ...
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Is it correct to say “gather and collect”?

The two words sound good together, however, I am not sure if it is appropriate to use them together. Suppose I was using it as "To gather and collect data".
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“vary from person to person”: most people or everyone are different?

Having done research on the internet, the results failed to address this specifically. Example sentence: Dietary needs vary from person to person. My question is how many people does this sentence ...
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1answer
45 views

“Open onto” vs. “open into”

When is one preferred over the other? This is in the context of the door to a large room. My sense is that "into" is preferred for closed spaces and "onto" for open spaces. This ...
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2answers
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“all restraint” or “all restraints”? [closed]

On Lexico.com I found this example: With strings and piano, all restraint vanished. while on Wikipedia I found another: All restraints require a physician's order to be applied. Does all restraint ...
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When and Why did “Sooner than Later” become a thing? [closed]

Three times in the past week or so I came across somebody writing "sooner than later" when what they obviously meant was "sooner rather than later." The first time I saw it, I ...
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50 views

Is “to a good approximation” idiomatic?

For example, is the phrase "Stars, to a good approximation, are spherical." correct and idiomatic English?
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42 views

“My car is occupied” or “My car is engaged”?

Suppose your mum has taken your car to buy groceries, and your colleague wants you to pick him up. How do you tell him without going into the details? Sorry, my car is occupied right now. OR Sorry, ...
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Why do some double negatives oppose with the natural or instinctive meaning which apparently occurs from the context of sentence they're applied in? [closed]

There would be more double-negatives like these, but I specifically want to mention "This couldn't be further/farther from the truth". When this phrase is used, it apparently incites the ...
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3answers
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Is “best gear this project to you” a proper saying?

In an email today I had included the following: So that I can best gear this project to your expertise, can you tell me how much experience you have with list of technical skills? I asked someone to ...
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Is *raises the need for* a valid and meaningful phrase?

I wanted to use the phrase "This raises the need for ...". A simple google search brought many results, most of which were either publications by non-native speakers or english pages of ...
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36 views

What does the phrase “Don't be upset because someone didn't help you” mean?

What does this phrase mean: Don't be upset because someone didn't help you. Does this mean "not to be upset with the reason being someone didn't help you" or "since someone didn't ...
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3answers
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Help writing a clever analogy for an essay [closed]

I'm a final year high school student trying to write a university essay on the importance of insight (deep understanding) or intuition in physics as opposed to math which relies on rigorous ...
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207 views

“Katy bar the gate” origins — Katherine Who?

For the first time in a long time, I recently heard the expression "Katy, bar the gate!" exclaimed as a warning. It was said so fast I had to ask the speaker to repeat himself. His ...
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What kind of elliptical construction would the following interpretation fall into and what are some similar examples?

Here is the sentence construction: As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up. I want to ...
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27 views

until a quarter and at quarter [duplicate]

I found the following sentences in the Cambridge textbook,and I don’t know why there’s only “a” with “until”. ・until a quarter to five ・at quarter after four I think “at” means the specific point, so ...
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57 views

Meaning and usage of “rife with uncertainty” [closed]

What is the meaning of "rife with uncertainty" and where it can be used? I search the meaning but I cannot find desirable answers. Moreover, is it possible to use the "rife with" + ...
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Is ' Preferred to learn practically over theoretically' a correct phrase?

The concept of Artificial Intelligence fascinated me and urged me to work on a project as I preferred to learn practically over theoretically. Does this sentence make any sense?
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38 views

“For always” meaning “forever”

I have occasionally heard "for always" used to mean "forever". This is a random example from Google Books: “Of course,” she said. “And I love you. For always.” COCA returns ...
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Use of Phrase “Drama Queen”

In my writing, I am talking about a character who is a, for lack of a better word, drama queen. But because this character identifies as a male, should another character call him a "drama queen,&...
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Question about the phrase “tap somebody as [a position]”

"Tap"(6. ​[transitive, usually passive] tap somebody (North American English) to choose somebody to do a particular job) is a synonym of "appoint" when it means "to select for ...
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232 views

Usage of “I couldn't agree/disagree more”

Someone said: "couldn't agree any less" Upon me finding this weird and asking, they told me their intent was "I disagree". I believe the idiomatic form is "I couldn't ______ ...
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Correct usage between two word conceive and pregnant

I am confused about the 2 terms used to say that a lady is bearing a life/child in her womb, they are as follows:- To conceive a child. Getting pregnant. Are they used differently with time like if ...
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“through the appropriate channels”

In an english subtitle of a movie, i met a following sentence: "if you have criticism of our management, we'll all ears, but please air those concerns through the appropriate channels". What ...
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113 views

Have yet and haven’t yet

I’ve done some search on google and found a meaning of the word “yet” is “If you have yet to do something, you have not done it” (definition by Cambridge Dictionary), an example is: They have yet to ...
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43 views

Can you embed a main clause, or does it always have to be subordinate?

Like in the following example: Some of you may not have heard of Dr Watkins, but he is an expert in psychology from the University of Oxford, and he said that “...” Or should the comma before ‘and he ...
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79 views

Obama said “gin up about the prospect of rallying behind whoever emerges from this process”. Did he misspeak? [closed]

“Everybody needs to chill out about the candidates but gin up about the prospect of rallying behind whoever emerges from this process,” Obama said in response to a question about the primary, ...
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Correct usage of the word “lack”

I was writing an email yesterday which was about a rough draft of doc to be reviewed by a peer. There was just one part of the document which I thought needed improvisation. What I wrote is → "...
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76 views

Stand out in the crowd vs from the crowd

Is 'stand out from the crowd' and 'stand out in a crowd' is same or differs in usage? Can anyone explain it to me with an example?

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