Questions tagged [usage]

For questions on how and why certain words are used in varying ways within various contexts.

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22 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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24 views

Is it fine to keep & in the end of a word at a line break? [closed]

For Example, I would like to create an advertisement where I would need to use "&" but as I am limited with the area space in the ad, I wanted to keep it as follows, with the ampersand ...
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21 views

When to use a vs the [closed]

I know when to use a vs the most of the time, but it can get pretty tricky. “All kinds of different operations happen in a brain.” “All kinds of different operations happen in the brain.” Is the ...
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2answers
62 views

Aversion to already? [closed]

A non-native translator into English, I use a native editor to check my translations. My current editor has an absolute aversion to the word "already", deleting it every time. Here are the ...
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Is No2. wrong or still acceptable and No.1 is better? [closed]

I came to school by bus this morning. I came to school this morning by bus. Is No2. wrong or still acceptable and No.1 is better?
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What does the word "hole" mean in this context?

My friend came to me with the sentence There was a time not so long ago when the word engage was most commonly used when two people plighted their troth with the goal of matrimony or holy wedlock ...
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1answer
19 views

"probably be only" vs "probably only be"

Which is more acceptable: "probably be only" vs "probably only be" Feel free to exchange "may" for "probably". Actual usage context In reality, there will ...
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1answer
95 views

When was the first documented use of "do you copy" by the military?

I have found a documented use from 1960. But WWII movies use the expression. So are the movie people making it up, or do they know something I don't?
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Jury: oath-takers or judges? [closed]

Familiar as we may be with the modern jury, the right to judgment by peers is set forth in the Magna Carta: NO Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or be disseised of his Freehold, or Liberties, or ...
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'We advise her to review and practice all the concepts taught in class for better performance next term.' do we need an 'in' after performance?

We advise her to review and practice all the concepts taught in class for better performance next term. Or We advise her to review and practice all the concepts taught in class for better ...
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1answer
43 views

"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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When does repetition become cycling?

When does repetition become cycling? I've looked up several sources for definitions and there's nothing I see that helps tell me when to use one over another. For example, is operating a light switch ...
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Correct phrase to use about feeling before actually happen [migrated]

I want to say someone about miss him already before he actually leaving. Can i say I already miss you from now on
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51 views

Different from from before

If we wanted to avoid "different than" in "different than from before", we would end up with "different from from before", which is clearly non idiomatic. Yet, I don't ...
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26 views

Punctuation after "This is X..." when introducing oneself

I would like to politely remind someone who I am over email. I'm not sure about the usage of the semicolon in the sentence below. I find if I replace it with a period, it's too abrupt sounding. I'm ...
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59 views

Usage of "Full stop. Fresh line" phrase instead of "full stop" or "period"

In Malta, there's a phrase "full stop. Fresh line" (or "full stop, fresh line") that seems to be in use by some speakers. It is equivalent to the British English "full stop&...
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2answers
161 views

Current Usage of Fanny

We are thinking about giving our daughter the name Fanny. We are Germans, based in Germany but we're really curious about the current usage of this word in Great Britain. We are familiar with the ...
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2answers
969 views

Are both gasoline and mains gas called "gas" in the USA? [closed]

I know that "petrol" is called "gasoline" in the USA, but frequently shortened into just "gas". But then there's also the English word "gas", which to the best ...
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2answers
109 views

Missing conditionals

When we talk about Unreal Past using The Third Conditional we know what really happened. Example: "If I hadn't had a lot of money, I wouldn't have gone with her that summer and we wouldn't be ...
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2answers
243 views

What does "Government is a corporation in the limit" mean?

In one of the videos Elon Musk defines Government as a "corporation in the limit". What does "in the limit" mean in this context ? As retweeted, a more complete quotation is: "...
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2answers
221 views

Was the word "inoculation" regularly used for introducing a disease for purposes other than inducing immunity?

While researching the history/historiography of the British potentially spreading smallpox via blankets at the siege of Fort Pitt during Pontiac's War, I came across General Amherst's letters. These ...
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1answer
60 views

Unusual usages of usurp

Google gives the definition of the word usurp as Take (a position of power or importance) illegally or by force. and cites the Oxford English dictionary. This definition means that someone who takes ...
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1answer
69 views

Ad hominem for non persons

An ad hominem argument is typically, according to Wikipedia, "a rhetorical strategy where the speaker attacks the character, motive, or some other attribute of the person making an argument ...
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Is it correct to say, "The king gifted him with a generous amount of gold, horses and chariots"? [duplicate]

Is it correct to say... The king gifted him with a generous amount of gold, horses and chariots Not sure whether 'amount' can be used here, since 'horses' and 'chariots' are listed with an ...
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5answers
571 views

What can I call 2nd and 3rd place finishes in a competition?

There are many awards I received from the sport I did. I thought to compress everything and write as 'Inter university and All island winner' but I have placed only 2nd and 3rd places. What is the ...
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1answer
54 views

Could you please help and explain to me how to correct the seemingly incorrect passive voice sentence pattern?

Could you please help and explain to me how to correct the seemingly incorrect passive voice sentence pattern? I would prefer it if we could be sat next to a window.
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1answer
53 views

"Given are ..." or " ... are given" - what is the difference between these two?

Also I want to know what voice was used in "Given are ...". Was it passive voice? Example: Given are two tables referring to criminality in Britain. & Two tables referring to ...
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3answers
535 views

Re: "a premise which maintains that…" Can a premise maintain?

I was trying to define false balance [Wikipedia] in my own words. False balance (aka bothsidesism): a media bias which perpetuates misinformation; a premise [which maintains] that two sides of an ...
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30 views

“…that the privations on the soul grow ever more stark and ruinous by the day.” - Can the word “privations” be used in this format?

Is it admissible to use to the phrase “privations on the soul” to describe the state in which the needs of the soul are not met and thus starved?
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72 views

Does "maximum" stand before or after a number? [closed]

In a table of different values, I wonder where to put the "max.": (max. 5000) or (5000 max.) I feel like one of those two should sound more idiomatic, but I am not sure which one. Or do you ...
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4answers
225 views

In what regions is "Do you work tonight?" clear and acceptable usage?

In my answer at ELL regarding a question of whether someone is working that evening, I suggested the alternative: Do you work tonight? There was a comment about this being incorrect usage, because &...
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2answers
54 views

using preposition 'of' to mean 'possess'

Is using the preposition 'of' in places where you want to say that the subject is possessing the 'something' which follows 'of' (basically an adjective) a common practice and correct? example: My ...
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2answers
87 views

Is "taking liberties with something" always disapproving?

The expression "to take liberties with something" are defined by different dictionaries as follows: to make important and unreasonable changes to something, especially a book (Oxford ...
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1answer
68 views

Is litany only used in negative connotations?

I've been encountering the word litany in articles and some videos and they're sort of used to mean like "a list of", but upon looking in different dictionaries it seems like it is used to ...
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2answers
217 views

Why are 'at least' and 'a lot' not single words?

I constantly have trouble with spelling the word-phrases ‘at least’ and ‘a lot’ .. they both should be a single word in my mind, which isn’t correct. They both seem to just be a single unit of meaning....
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1answer
48 views

Would you use 'bender' to describe a person?

We know 'bender' as a period of time which one spends excessively drunk (or maybe high), and "a person or thing which bends," and Bender, the robot on "Futurama," but would -- or ...
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35 views

Participle Phrase vs. That/Which

In recent writing and editing, I noticed that a participle phrase can sometimes be used interchangeably with a that/which phrase, and both options seem equally readable. The following sentences show ...
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1answer
37 views

their younger counterparts [closed]

I wrote this sentence: Elderly employees usually have a lower level of labor productivity than their younger counterparts I just want to ask that if I use the word "counterparts" correctly?...
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1answer
135 views

A word meaning both masturbating and consoling oneself?

In Chinese, 自慰 means '(of a person, genderless) to masturbate', and it also means 'to console oneself'. I took it as an extension of 'God helps whose who help themselves' for a certain period of time. ...
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1answer
123 views

Is the expression "taken out and shot" offensive?

I refer to the expression "taken out and shot", used by Daryl Gates. I have seen this used on a couple of occasions in newspaper articles, and last year, such expression caused a lot of ...
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96 views

The phrase "in (the) light of" - USAGE 2021

There is a distinction between "in the light of" and "in light of", with the first expression belonging to British English and the second to American English. The Oxford Dictionary,...
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1answer
55 views

Is the term "animate object" still used?

Is the term "animate object" still acceptable to use, for example for a grasshopper? I remember objects being broken down into either animate objects or inanimate objects back when I was in ...
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1answer
52 views

Using abbreviations in 15th Century English

I am writing a story set in the 15th Century. I appreciate that most stories etc were written at the time in either Latin or French but, for obvious reasons, I have to write it in English. It is ...
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49 views

When "humane" doesn't mean "compassionate"

I'm editing a text (by a non-native speaker of English) that is, in a broad sense, about poetry. One phrase used frequently is "humane eloquence". At first I changed "humane" to &...
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31 views

How to refine ambiguous tense reference?

Caught offguard, Gibbet retreated to the safety of the wall, fervently hoping that the darkness was sufficient to hide him from her gaze. Reading this sentence, it feels ambiguous (to me) whether it ...
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4answers
112 views

What is the origin of situations in which you cannot expand a contraction?

Recently I noticed that there are some sentences which contain "can't" that sound wrong when you replace "can't" with "cannot." Here's one example. The sentence Why can'...
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3answers
707 views

When do you use 'nom de plume' vs. 'pen name' vs. 'pseudonym'?

Dictionaries usually treat nom de plume as synonymous with 'pen name' or 'pseudonym'. Example from Merriam Webster's dictionary: Definition of nom de plume: a name that a writer uses instead of his ...
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43 views

Can "avert to" be used to mean allude? [closed]

In particular, many of the early...were in part inspired by learnability considerations.[...]And later research has often averted to learnability considerations as well [references omitted]. (from ...
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4answers
70 views

Out of one’s hands / Beyond one’s control: synonyms?

I am writing something about legal defences available to a defendant. I would like to know if these two expressions (title) can in this case be synonyms and if one is more used than the other. Context:...
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2answers
80 views

How do you write "think'd", a contraction of "think would"? [closed]

How do I write the contraction of "think would" in say "What do you think'd go best?"? This may be an Australian English thing in that it sounds normal to me, but I can't ...

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