Questions tagged [register]

Questions about English registers, broadly defined as variations of the language used for specific tenors, media (modes), and domains (fields).

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30
votes
4answers
1.2m views

Difference between “How are you?” and “How are you doing?”

I've heard a lot of times that there is a major difference between saying: How are you? and How are you doing? Is that true? I've heard one was like an extension of “Hello” and does not mean ...
27
votes
5answers
12k views

How popular is the word “cromulent”? If I use this word in conversation with native speakers, doesn’t it look out of place?

In today’s post, “What’s the antonym for recommend?” an answerer answered "I discourage the blue sweater sounds perfectly cromulent.” As I am utterly unfamiliar with the word, “cromulent,” I looked ...
24
votes
6answers
61k views

Is “curiouser” in fact a word (like in the famous phrase “curiouser and curiouser”)?

Is curiouser, in fact, a word?
23
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5answers
2k views

Are contractions of “I am” or “I would” rude? [duplicate]

I got edited on Stack Overflow because I used "I'm", "you're" and "I'd" instead of "I am" etc. Is it considered rude to use contractions like that in informal conversations on the internet? I would ...
23
votes
5answers
78k views

What are sentences like “the longer X, the more Y” called and can they be used in formal written English?

What is the type of sentence exemplified below called? Is it appropriate to use it in a scientific paper and formal written English in general? 1. The more pronounced the variation, the more the ...
14
votes
4answers
4k views

Is “Ur-moment” a normal English expression?

The New York Times article of this past July 29th titled, “The D.O. Is In Now: Osteopathic Schools Turn Out Nearly a Third of All Med School Grads,” features the growing popularity of the Touro ...
12
votes
7answers
4k views

Is “to boil down” formal enough to be used in scientific writing? [closed]

The phrase to boil down to something can be found in most dictionaries. However, to me, it sounds colloquial to write Finding an exact solution to Eq. 1 boils down to ... A real-life example ...
12
votes
3answers
120k views

Is “pronunciate” a word?

Is "pronunciate" a word? At first it doesn't seem to be, but why not? "Pronunciation" and "pronunciative" seem to be words, so it would seem natural that "pronunciate" would be. After Googling, I ...
12
votes
1answer
10k views

When did “ain't” become slang?

In Anthony Trollope's The Way We Live Now, there are several places where "ain't" is used instead of "am not", such as: "I ain't afraid of him, if you mean that," continued Lord Nidderdale. — ...
10
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5answers
2k views

Is it okay to say and write “ain't” yet?

Over 10 years ago saying "ain't" was discouraged but it was gaining momentum. What happened? Seems like it's still discouraged. Maybe in another 10 years?
10
votes
3answers
461 views

Does “show” for “put in an appearance; arrive” sound any more or less informal/slack than “show up” in modern day English?

Is there a difference in register between saying: He failed to show for his appointment When will the bus show? -and- He failed to show up for his appointment When will the bus show ...
9
votes
12answers
84k views

Is there a word for “without any reason” but a more formal one

A sample sentence would be: Why did you ban me without providing a reason? Is there a single word to replace "without providing a reason" with? Indiscriminately is not an option for me.
8
votes
1answer
459 views

A Strange Conditional: “I couldn’t have talked to her that day if I never talked to her again”

In The Great Gatsby, thus pens Fitzgerald: ‘However—I want to see you.’ ‘I want to see you too.’ ‘Suppose I don’t go to Southampton, and come into town this afternoon?’ ‘No—I don’t think this ...
7
votes
3answers
52k views

Is there a plural of “metropolis”, not “metropolises”, that would sound better in a less formal register?

I am aware that the plural of metropolis is metropolises, but to me it sounds stilted and to be honest I cannot recall ever hearing it used. Is there an irregular plural of metropolis that would be ...
6
votes
12answers
19k views

A fancier way of saying, “I'm not a fan of…”

I am looking for synonyms–the more ‘fanciful’ the better–of "not a fan" as in I'm not a fan of his, but give the man a break! The expression, “I'm not a fan of his/her” or “I'm no fan of his/...
6
votes
5answers
1k views

How toffee-nosed is “toffee-nosed”?

Not being a speaker of British English, I was much amused on discovering the new adjective toffee-nosed. The American Heritage dictionary doesn't list it at all, but I found a definition in Collins: ...
6
votes
4answers
565 views

The first “topless” man

For years, men who bared their torsos in public were said to be bare-chested or shirtless, but recently I keep seeing more and more topless men; not in my part of the world, unfortunately, but in ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

Is “nowadays” the same as “today”?

When helping an Italian speaker with her written homework, a cover letter, I told her to change the expression nowadays to that of today. Her original sentence was the following: I would be ...
5
votes
5answers
30k views

Why is “ain't” not listed in dictionaries?

Google finds 52,000,000 matches for ain't but non-natives simply can't look up this word. Wiktionary isn't helpful. Is it some kind of 'wildcard' for "am/is/are not"?
5
votes
9answers
14k views

Is it really rude to use the terms “the john” and “the loo” in lieu of “the restroom”?

I usually use the term "restroom" (or "toilet" if I want to make sure that everyone in the Czech Republic understands me at once), and, while I've always understood that the terms "john" and "loo" are ...
5
votes
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 ...
4
votes
4answers
1k views

Is it correct to use elipses in a formal essay? [closed]

I'm writing an essay and I want to write: These things all prove that Hitler was not a man of his word … So should England have trusted him? and then continue with my next points. Is this ...
4
votes
1answer
160 views

What is this US accent found so often in instructional videos?

What is this accent or register? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0E4PX3e3RE It seems to me to include extensive creaky voice a broad range of pitch rising question intonation This question is not ...
4
votes
2answers
203 views

Is `bonny' neutral register?

Dictionary definitions of `bonny' admit to chiefly British (or even Scots), but give no further hint of the possible tinges of this word. Bonny (adj.) means attractive, fair; fine, excellent [M-W]. ...
4
votes
3answers
77k views

“Given that” vs. “Granted that”

Understanding that "given that" and "granted that" are both used to mark the premise of an argument (or conditions that are assumed to be true), and the actual meaning is almost identical, I have to ...
4
votes
4answers
75k views

What's an alternative for “hidden gem”?

Hidden gems is an idiom which means something which is extremely outstanding and not many people may know about; for example, Blame It on Rio by Stanley Donen is a good movie, but relatively unknown ...
3
votes
2answers
2k views

Technical terminology for a non-technical audience

In documentation for a non-technical audience, I was asked about usage around the term "regular expression." My colleague was asking if one of "RegEx", "Regex" or "regex" would be preferable, I ...
3
votes
3answers
8k views

Difference between “bunch of” and “group of” with regard to people

What are the contexts for using a bunch and a group when describing a handful of people? Please take both spoken and written English into account. For example, when is it more appropriate to use "a ...
3
votes
4answers
669 views

Is there a formal way of saying 'hog'? [closed]

The term hog, as defined below, is an informal word. 1.3 informal A greedy person. ‘Our King was, in a simple statement, a greedy, power-hungry covetous hog.’ (Oxford Dictionaries) ...
3
votes
2answers
3k views

“throw out/away” vs. “toss (out)” vs. “pitch (out/away)” for “dispose of; discard; get rid of as worthless or useless” in AmEng

What's the difference between "throw out/away," "toss out," and "pitch (out/away)" to mean, "get rid of as worthless or unnecessary"? Can these be used just about interchangeably? THROW AWAY Also, ...
3
votes
4answers
471 views

A poetic word or expression for networking/lobbying/making professional connections

I’m looking for a poetic word or expression that means making professional connections, lobbying, networking, socializing professionally. League, circuit, club, society, and so on and so forth.
3
votes
2answers
2k views

Does the expression “to go under the knife” carry a negative connotation?

Is there a difference in connotation between these two phrases? I asked my student whether her mother was scheduled to GO UNDER THE KNIFE this morning. I asked my student whether her mother was ...
3
votes
1answer
80 views

Be we all here?

The passage below is taken from Life's Little Ironies by Thomas Hardy. My question concerns "Now be we all here?". I understand that it means "Now are we all here?". The writer might have left the ...
3
votes
1answer
6k views

Saying “programming” vs “coding” [duplicate]

I've always thought that "programming" sounded more professional opposed to "coding". But after looking at the words more closely I'm not entirely sure they mean the same thing. But even if they do ...
3
votes
2answers
61k views

When should we say 'Thanks' and when, 'Thank you'? [closed]

While I'm communicating with my colleagues and clients, I used to say 'Thanks' and 'Thank you'. I normally use 'Thank you' when I want to express it to a single person usually through e-mails, ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

“this represents” vs “this is”

I want to explain to one of my students why this usage is so common in scientific or academic reports but not (as far as I can see) elsewhere: This represents the best evidence to date of [whatever]...
3
votes
1answer
549 views

Is “pls” considered unprofessional?

Any where I talk to people on messages, emails, chats, etc... I find people tend to use the word "pls" instead of "please". Even my phone company texts me automatically saying "Pls call 321, You have ...
3
votes
3answers
158 views

“She wanted out of this dump.” What is the grammatical function of “out of this dump”?

I came across a line in a movie. She wanted out of this dump. She wanted to start a new life. It seems the sentence is missing to get/be/go. Is the sentence grammatical as it currently stands? ...
3
votes
1answer
100 views

Can it ever be acceptable to use singular “they” with a specific referent of known but undisclosed gender?

I am not sure whether these two examples using singular they to refer to a specific, singular referent are acceptable in educated speech: I had a friend in Paris, and they had to visit the doctor for ...
3
votes
1answer
285 views

Describing Social Status in the 1920's

I am looking for ways to say "low class" and "high class" that would be used in the 1920's on the East Coast of the U.S. I am writing a story narrated by a young girl who is very class-conscious and ...
2
votes
2answers
1k views

Is ‘misunderestimate’ a received (American) English word?

I found the word ‘misunderestimating’ in the article written by Peter Catapano under the caption 'Don't stop believing' in Opinionator’s Column section of New York Times (April 29). The word is not ...
2
votes
3answers
4k views

What does “Honor this in the breach” mean?

The text below is from a book for engineers whose content is unimportant: the purpose of my question is only to understand, "honor this in the breach". I searched this expression on the Internet, but ...
2
votes
2answers
143k views

What is a word similar to FYI but not objective/neutral [closed]

FYI can be used in an email to inform the person reading the email about some information. It is comfortable using this between peers. But what if the mail is intended to inform someone higher in the ...
2
votes
2answers
1k views

Is “from all over” ok in a formal text?

Context: academic, resume-like document detailing a person's achievements. "The institute has attracted people from all over the University" Does the above sound okay, or is the "from all over" an ...
2
votes
1answer
2k views

Contractions: Are “I would’ve” and “I’d have” both equally permissible?

Instead of “I would have done something”, are both of these versions ok? I would’ve done something. I’d have done something.
2
votes
2answers
156 views

What do you call a subordinate clause that follows its main clause but is wrongly punctuated as a separate sentence?

“This compelled the chancellor to shut down the whole program. Which was an outcome no one really wanted.” I suspect that what underlies this error is the sense that in spoken English a substantial ...
2
votes
2answers
89 views

Do I have to use “I” or “we” when orally presenting my scientific thesis written by a single author? [closed]

I know that in a scientific paper or thesis made by a single author, it is common to use we. (This is also recommended at our university.) But what about when you alone are presenting a thesis work ...
2
votes
1answer
1k views

How do you differentiate between “in order to”, “so as to”, “so that” and “to”?

When we use the phrases so as to, in order to, and so that, we simply mean with the aim or purpose of doing something. The first two phrases are always followed by an infinitive to. Will I not be ...
2
votes
2answers
267 views

“Heaps” or “heap” as an adverb

According to the Oxford dictionary online (ODO), "heaps" is an adverb meaning a great deal. But in Gone with the Wind, there is this sentence, containing "heap," most likely meaning the same thing ...
2
votes
1answer
5k views

What's the proper and formal way of asking “Didn't we used to do …”? [duplicate]

I saw it used in an article online, and it doesn't seem proper to me because of the two past tenses used together. But since "use to" can't be used here, I don't know what would be the proper way. ...