Questions tagged [phrase-usage]

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

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2answers
57 views

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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1answer
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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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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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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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Which is the correct usage: “With regard to/with regards to” or “In regard to/in regards to?”

After reviewing answers found in the "Similar Questions" area, I didn't see a definitive answer. To me it seems any writer or speaker is "regarding" something so the word "regard" would be singular. ...
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What is the origin of the phrase “do a line with someone”?

What is the origin of the phrase "do a line with someone", meaning "have a regular romantic or sexual romantic relationship with someone"? I learnt this phrase from an Irish colleague of mine the ...
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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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1answer
16k views

What's the formal answer to a question beginning with “Shall we”?

I've been asked "Shall we chat then?". The automatic affirmative answer that I would give is "Yes, let's." But in this case, the email conversation is a bit more formal, and I feel my go-to answer ...
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1answer
43 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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1answer
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'As a result of' Usage

As a result of seems to be quite a versatile phrase, and I can't entirely figure out the contexts in which it is used. This statement is apparently wrong: Sound can travel through water for ...
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“in exhibition”?

The Bosarges’ $5 million mummy now is in exhibition at the Museum of Natural History in Houston. (source) I am not familiar with "in exhibition". I would always use "on exhibition". My own research ...
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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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“from A to B” or “to B from A”

Which expression is more customary? Are their situations where one would be favored over the other? Edit: Sorry for making the question unclear. My motivation for this question came from reading ...
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Which is correct? “Confident in” or “confident of”?

To me, they sound interchangeable. So, "I am confident of my abilities." "I am confident in my abilities." However, I'd like to know from people here at English Stackexchange as well. Is there a ...
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7answers
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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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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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1answer
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“Where do you stay?” vs “Where do you live?”

I am not a native speaker of English and I was having a casual conversation with my friends in the US. I asked them, "Where do you stay?" (which is pretty common in India, as far as I know) for which ...
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Does the phrase “but although” work together?

I have the sentence: "But although you hate me now, I believe that you will forgive me over time." I'm not sure if the phrase makes sense because the words are essentially the same word. Any help?
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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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1answer
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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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1answer
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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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1answer
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How I can use verb 'Wish' correctly?

I thought that verb 'wish' we use to tell another person success or joy, etc. But I saw the sentence: I wish I could, but I don't want to. Here it's being used about my regrets, isn't it? How ...
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3answers
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“do [something] now”. How to interpret this?

I am not a native English speaker, and for some reason, when my superior at work tells me to "stop what you are doing, and do this now" through internal channels online, I feel it has a ...
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661 views

“The Beach” vs “A restaurant”

When I want to go out to eat, I say: "let's go to a restaurant," but when I want to go play on the sand I say: "let's go to the beach." Why is that true? In both cases I'm talking about ...
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254 views

In contemporary use, does 'white noise' enjoy common figurative meaning?

In at least the ELU hyperlocal environment, the claim that 'white noise' has only one meaning seems to be mostly unchallenged. For example, as commentary on a recent question (now on hold) titled "...
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3answers
60 views

“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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1answer
97 views

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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Is “these ones” correct?

I know many people use it, but it really does sound informal. Should I avoid it anyway? Case is. I have a pair of earings on the table and I want to refer to them, so I say: "Are you talking about ...
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2answers
48 views

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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“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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2answers
53k views

“Need be” vs. “Needs to be”

I've written the following in a sentence, but now that I look at it, I'm doubting my grammatical instincts and wanted to get a second opinion. ...the balance need be swayed only slightly... Is the ...
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1answer
51 views

Interpretation of “from…to” vs “until”

I want to understand the difference between these two phrases. Suppose the following example: "John will be in New York from Thursday to Saturday" . "John will be in New York until ...
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2answers
155 views

Who was the first media spoiler?

Spoiler (n.) is a very old term, but its usage referring to movie plots is quite recent: 1530s, "one who robs or plunders," agent noun from spoil (v.)......meaning "information about the plot ...
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If craven means “contemptibly lacking in courage,” what do “craven desires” and “craven idols” mean?

I was recently reviewing the meaning of the word "craven," which included trying to find some good examples of its usage. More often than not, I came across the phrases, "craven desires" and "craven ...
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1answer
29 views

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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476 views

What does it mean “To hold up against scrutiny”

So I have this sentence: "These books are very good and they hold up against both biblical and geopolitical scrutiny" and I'm not sure what would that mean...
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1answer
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Can the phrase “there's no such thing as…” be used in context of time?

I was wondering if the idiomatic phrase can be altered as follows... ...There's no such time as one [when/where] child rearing is easy... I'm also uncertain which word bracketed above is more ...
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1answer
30 views

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
45 views

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
31 views

Any difference in nuance between “for easing restrictions” and “for easing of restrictions”?

These days, we often see news headlines like the below examples, and I wonder if there is any difference in nuance between "for easing restrictions" and "for easing of restrictions". Can anyone help ...
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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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4answers
2k views

What is the figurative meaning of “cold pizza”?

I've always thought that "cold pizza" was an expression used mainly to refer to a boring, uninteresting person or an unexciting event whose images call to mind that of an unappetising cold pizza. ...
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6answers
14k views

Neutral non offensive alternative to “slanting eyes”

I was looking for a term to define the eyes shape of oriental people and I discovered that the term slant-eye is a derogatory one: (offensive) a person with slanting eyes; especially , one ...
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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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Is there a word for someone who inadvertently makes your point for you?

For example: If a person tells another person, "You're racist" and the other person responds, "No, I'm not racist. But I just don't like to see Black and White people dating because it'...
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2answers
320 views

Why “enough for to fill” instead of “enough to fill” in this sentence?

"I drank enough drink for to fill Galway Bay". This is from an old Irish drinking song called "Drink it up, men", by the Dubliners. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=niOHxjdKQ-c My question is: Is ...
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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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