Questions tagged [phrase-usage]

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

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Why use "can and may" both in a sentence?

I have seen a lot of questions about the difference between can and may and I am aware of them. In a legal(-ish) document (some policy) I have read a statement to the effect of a consequence can and ...
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Can "like better" be used with an infinitive?

I was writing a poem and decided to use "like better" meaning "prefer" so it had a better rhyme. The sentence sounded like this:"you had your shot but liked it better to mess ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Meaning of add texture to something (a plan, discussion, etc.)

I was having a conversation with a senior executive about launching a new initiative. He said he would like to get behind it, but I need to add a bit more texture to the whole proposal. What does ...
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3 answers
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Is it meaningful to say "a few moments"? [closed]

I have noticed lots of software installs asking me to wait "a few moments" recently. A moment is an unquantified interval of time that is entirely subjective, so is it meaningful to talk of ...
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1 vote
0 answers
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Author - Title vs Title - Author when referring to a work [closed]

Is there a convention on whether to place the title of a work or the author of a work first when referring to the work? I'm thinking mostly for titling notes/files on the work, or for categorizing ...
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0 votes
1 answer
47 views

Significance of the formulation: "give it him what it he wants" [closed]

In his opinion piece, "My dear Russian friends, now is the time for your own Maidan", Jonathan Little uses this phrasing which to my ears sounds very strange: And if you won’t give it him ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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What is the best way to reword the parenthetical plural "diagnosis(es) and remedy(s)"?

What is the best way to word the following sentence? A diagnosis(es) and remedy(s) remain elusive as we continue to seek help from various medical professionals. Since diagnosis ends in -is, should ...
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1 vote
2 answers
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Placement of the phrase "three years ago"

"This question was posed to a friend I respected greatly three years ago." In this sentence, what does the "three years ago" refer to? Does it mean the question was asked three ...
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10 votes
4 answers
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Usage of the phrase "do not play the saint"

I have noticed that some Maltese-speaking people tend to use the phrase "do not play the saint". It's intended to mean "Do not act all innocent" or "Do not act so 'holier-than-...
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5 votes
4 answers
2k views

Is the phrase "source code" intrinsically plural? [closed]

If we're talking about the phrase "source code", isn't that naturally and implicitly plural? Consider the following sentence: All of the source code for this project is in a public GitHub ...
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4 votes
1 answer
71 views

Why is there no relative pronoun in Bronte's sentence?

I have a question for which I hope to get an answer from a professional. My question is: why is there no pronoun in the following sentence in Charolotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, Chapter XXIV? Here is a ...
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3 votes
4 answers
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Where does the expression to ‘commune with nature’ come from?

This expression today is associated heavily with a sense of peace or wellbeing that is experienced through being in nature. I am curious to know its origins and other early uses. Sites like Lexico ...
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3 answers
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What is the meaning of the phrase "striving for effect"?

This phrase seems to be well established in English. I just don't know exactly what it means, beyond the fact that it is used to define "affectation". It may be something that people learn ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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"Catch one's breath" vs "One's breath caught" [closed]

I was looking into the usage of 'to catch one's breath'. To my understanding, it's used to denote a pause between an intake of breath and the release. However, I was told that the idiom is more ...
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0 votes
0 answers
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"He was overcome by a sudden surge of fear" or "A sudden surge of fear overcame him" - Which is more correct?

"He was overcome by a sudden surge of fear" or "A sudden surge of fear overcame him" - Which is more correct? Is the latter one not idiomatic?
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6 votes
1 answer
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Why do we use the possessive in "doctor's appointment"? [closed]

Doctors seem to be unique among professions in that we use the possessive when referring to their appointments. "Doctor's appointment" is many times more common than "doctor appointment&...
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8 votes
1 answer
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Where does the idiom/story "You know what happened to the man who forced his pig" come from?

This phrase comes from my dad, who is of Bristolian stock, so it may be highly regional. I've only heard it spoken, and not written down. He uses it, I believe, when it looks like somebody is ...
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18 votes
14 answers
3k views

Idiom or phrase for expressing one's skill/talent has not decayed

I am wondering what standard phrase or idiom expresses that one's skill or talent in a particular area has not decayed through the passage of time. I believe a related idiom is, "[the person] has ...
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0 answers
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Meaning and usage of “acting along”

I came across this phrase when I was reading a manga series. The demon king ain't acting along right? Basically, the speaker is inquiring about what's going to take to beat him. Here is the dialogue. ...
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0 answers
188 views

Blanket statement vs sweeping statement

Wiktionary currently defines a blanket statement as follows: A type of fallacy from making an inductive conclusion with insufficient evidence; a kind of faulty generalization; underpowered ...
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2 votes
0 answers
33 views

Why is "I too" so rare? [duplicate]

It would be interesting to hear the reasons why "I too" is so rare. It is usually replaced by "me too", although this is techically wrong when it denotes the subject. Perhaps it is ...
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-1 votes
1 answer
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Forecast Entry - Can this mean the process of entering data into a computer form?

Our company's customers are forecasters. Some of them (non-native English speakers) use the term Forecast Entry to describe the process of sitting in front of the computer and entering a weather ...
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0 votes
1 answer
40 views

"Mirage of factors"

Today I came across the phrase "mirage of factors", used in the same way one would say "variety of factors". I thought this had to be a mistake, but a google search shows that this ...
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1 vote
1 answer
30 views

"... Much was" vs "... much was a"

I was writing something in Google Docs, and it flagged one of my sentences. The context in question was this (summarized): Much of the area was [this] district. The correction/suggestion was this: ...
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0 votes
0 answers
76 views

Alternative for "Don't quote me on that"?

I was looking for a better alternative for "Don't quote me on that" phrase. Context : My (International) friend came to visit us and saw us doing some rituals. She asked me about its history....
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0 votes
1 answer
64 views

if someone refers to the wife in the conversation, is that rude? [closed]

I'm not native speaker and my husband is native speaker one day after we argued I heard he was talking to his sister. I could hear her voice too, she said, stop fighting you and the wife? That ...
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22 votes
4 answers
5k views

“pig book” – when, where & why has a booklet of college students with photos been called a “pig book”?

I’m wondering how widespread geographically and in time was the usage of calling a paper “face book” (list of 1st year college students with photos, hometown & dorm room) a “pig book”, and what ...
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12 votes
5 answers
3k views

Interesting use of "so much"

When I use the phrase "so much," I normally mean it as a quantifier of an uncountable noun. That sounds pretty obtuse, but let me give examples: Don't use so much sugar The patient is in so ...
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0 votes
1 answer
56 views

"nor" + pronoun + pronoun

I've never seen the following phrase structure before and I couldn't find any resources on Google: "nor" + pronoun + pronoun Context: ...and she just couldn't find me, nor I her. Source: ...
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0 votes
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38 views

How first statement feels more natural, when both statements are conveying the same information?

I am new to English language, while revising I was paraphrasing the 1st statement and got the 2nd. What I don't understand is WHY the 1st statement feels more natural while reading them when both ...
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-1 votes
1 answer
109 views

"So to speak" vs "As it were" [closed]

As the title says, what is the difference between "so to speak" and "as it were"? Personally, I use them interchangeably but I was wondering if there was a proper way, so to speak (...
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1 vote
0 answers
32 views

Why do we sometimes omit and sometimes retain the conjunctions "because/while/when etc" when reducing adverb clauses?

We can reduce this sentence "Because she has a test next week, she is studying very hard." (1-1) -> "Having a test next week, she is studying very hard." (1-2) "Before he ...
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0 votes
2 answers
61 views

Is 'request denial' a phrase?

So I and my mom are having a debate over whether 'request denial' is even a phrase in the English language. Is it used in the common language, and if so where is it used? My mother says that it could ...
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1 vote
1 answer
25 views

Concerning the usage of "something and something of something" [closed]

I'm very confused about a specific usage of the "and" (I think). Here is the case: This fascinating distance and loss of singularity What this phrase means? Are "fascinating distance&...
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-1 votes
1 answer
78 views

How to interpret "reduced by" in a math problem [closed]

If a question says the amount is reduced by 1/4, what does it mean? For instance, say it's 8 Does it mean: 8 * 1/4 = 2. So, the new amount is 2. OR It's 8 - 2 = 6. So, the new amount is 6.
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2 votes
1 answer
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Proper term for colloquial Manglish "open order"

In Malaysia, there is a colloquial phrase in Manglish called "open order", which often used when a seller opens a list of slots for buyers to place in order to purchase the former's ...
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0 votes
1 answer
57 views

Is the double "do" in the expression "If I do do it" more acceptable in spoken vs. written English? [closed]

I'm a native English speaker from the Midwestern United States. While writing a description to a colleague of some work that I recently did, I found myself typing a sentence to the effect of "I'...
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1 vote
1 answer
63 views

What is the correct usage of “of” in phrases about quality [duplicate]

I frequently see phrases like “how good of a cook is she?” I would have said “how good a cook is she?” without the insertion of “of.” Is either form incorrect?
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0 votes
1 answer
63 views

Is "as far as" without "goes" technically correct?

I notice that a lot of people, especially in how-to YouTube videos for whatever reason, have been saying "as far as" without following with "goes" or "is concerned" or ...
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3 votes
3 answers
228 views

Does "have yet to" imply expectations?

I just wrote an email saying I have written to you several times recently with various corrections but have yet to receive a response. I'm wondering now whether this differs in normative content ...
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0 votes
1 answer
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Is it correct to say, “justification for and reference to your answer”?

I want to shorten the words “justification for your answer and reference to your answer” by saying, “justification for and reference to your answer”. Is this shorter form correct? If not, how should I ...
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2 votes
1 answer
122 views

another’s person or another person? [closed]

I am doing a little bit of research in the library about negligence (a tort or civil wrong in UK/US legal systems) and I have read this sentence: Negligence goes beyond the ordinary English concept of ...
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1 vote
1 answer
198 views

Is "I love that for you" grammatical?

Does the phrase "I love that for you" obey the rules of Standard American English, when used in the sense described in this Vogue article? In particular, the person uttering the sentence is ...
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0 votes
1 answer
148 views

Usage of 'take a rain check' in reference to a private dinner

I have the following sentence which describes the want of the speaker to hold another private dinner at a later date because he/she has somewhere else to be suddenly: I’m going to have to take a rain ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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Is the phrase ~in x years inclusive or exclusive? [closed]

Is the phrase ~in x years, such as "The first revenue drop in x years," inclusive or exclusive of the last year there was a revenue drop? For instance, given this scenario: 2000 - revenue ...
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1 vote
1 answer
55 views

Why this usage doesn't seem right - "create speculation"

Here is the context. People speculate and do trading in stock marketing. There have been cases of people pumping money on a specific stock and creating a fake demand for it which in turn shoots up ...
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4 votes
2 answers
195 views

What does “takes advantage of their head rope runs the risk” mean?

The fol­low­ing line is from the 2015 trans­la­tion from the Span­ish of des­a­pa­re­ci­do Ar­gen­tine writer Ha­rol­do Con­ti’s 1962 novel, South­easter (orig­i­nal Span­ish ti­tle, Sud­este): This ...
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2 votes
0 answers
83 views

Why is it grammatically correct to say “It’s time she went”? [duplicate]

Consider these possibilities: It is now time for her to leave home. It is now time for her to be told. It is now time (that) she left home. It is now time (that) she were told. It is now time (that) ...
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0 votes
0 answers
49 views

Usage of 'run something down south'

I have the following sentence which describes a person putting a finger on someone's chest and trailing it downwards: She put a finger lightly on my chest and then ran it down south. In this context,...
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0 votes
1 answer
72 views

Correct term to describe an unpublished research paper?

I'm planning on putting my research paper on my resume, but it is currently unpublished. I've sent it to a publication journal and it's currently under formal review (not accepted yet). I don't want ...
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