Questions tagged [usage]

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

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39 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
217 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
59 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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20 views

What's the difference between category synonyms (set, class, group, category, type, kind, branch, bracket, division, etc.)? [closed]

George Firican said the ER (entity relationship) is different for classification and categorization. The ERs according to him For classification members : classes 1:n (one to many) A futon can be in ...
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1answer
54 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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20 views

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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0answers
28 views

Difference among sound, music and audio [closed]

From Differences between "audio" and "sound"?, I learned that sound is a generic term and can be caused by any source. Audio refers to sound coming from a recording, transmission ...
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5answers
524 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
48 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
46 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
505 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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28 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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2answers
71 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
216 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
51 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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0answers
51 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
64 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
214 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
47 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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32 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
36 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
133 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
116 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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92 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
54 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
47 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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0answers
48 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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29 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
106 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
671 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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1answer
41 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
65 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
79 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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33 views

Whereby / By which

I have a doubt about the use of “whereby”. I know it can be a synonym of “by which”, but I am not sure if it can always substitute “by which”. I am doing an essay and I wrote this: Will, gift, lease ...
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3answers
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What kind of error is using Women instead of Woman

An online argument. Guy says "You are looking for a women". Girl replies "talking all that sh*t with bad Grammar". Guy replies "Spelling is not a part of Grammar". ...
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1answer
108 views

How long does "half an hour" mean? [closed]

Consider the declaration A: I'll be gone for thirty minutes. as compared to I'll be gone for half an hour. Similarly, consider declaration B: I'll be back within 30 minutes. versus I'll be back ...
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1answer
36 views

Is tl;dr used very much outside of the computer programming community?

I read tl;dr a lot in computer articles. It is used to give a condensed version of a long report. (It may mean, "Too Long; Didn't Read.") Is it safe to use that term or jargon in common ...
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1answer
54 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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48 views

To Only You or Only To You?

I need some native English speakers to answer this one. Is it "Alarms are visible to only you." OR "Alarms are visible only to you." Thanks in advance!
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2answers
53 views

Is it correct to say "mammals became the dominant species"?

Is it correct to write this: After the dinosaurs went extinct, mammals became the dominant species. Since mammals/Mammalia is a "class", is it more correct to say: After the dinosaurs ...
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23 views

exchanging something with someone else or exchanging with someone else's?

"...everyone was exchanging theirs with someone else’s" or "...everyone was exchanging theirs with someone else" You could exchange your work with a person, or you could exchange ...
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1answer
45 views

"Nothing else on earth is worth being preoccupied with" [closed]

I know that worth can be used with a gerundial clause that has a passive meaning: A lot of the small towns in the area are definitely worth visiting. (ldoceonline) But can "worth" be used ...
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1answer
43 views

Dialectal variation in subtleties of usage of the word "sore"

I grew up in southern England, and now live in Scotland. There are many interesting and well-known quirks of usage that differ between Southern English English and the various Scottish dialects and ...
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1answer
24 views

Can I use plural form of a nous as if it is a singular? [duplicate]

I came out, Ma’am, prepared to submit to everything—to be put upon in every way—but there are some things, Ma’am, one can’t submit to. There is caps, Ma’am, that suits one face and some that suits ...
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2answers
74 views

What exactly is a "building" in the UK?

My question relates specifically to multi-storey residential buildings with several flats on each floor. Not necessarily high-rises or a "block of flats". An example would be the following ...
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1answer
57 views

Can em dashes be used to introduce a dependent clause?

Consider the following sentence from WSJ: And so, like the dutiful and efficient worker I was, I’d put my energy into clearing the decks, cranking through the smaller stuff to get it out of the way—...
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2answers
137 views

What words in English sound aggressive to native speakers(not a semantically, but phonetically/ associatively) and why? [closed]

What words in English sound aggressive to native (not a semantically, but phonetically/ associatively) and why? it can be not a "bunch of examples" only, but a generalized rule, if you can, ...
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1answer
36 views

Using the word 'back' in a headline [duplicate]

I'm struggling with the way this headline should be structured: We're welcoming families back! OR 2. We're welcoming back families! I'm not sure what part of speech 'back' is in these examples. And ...
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3answers
127 views

How is the word "wrangle" used in Europe?

I'm starting a new online business in the US, and hope to attract customers in Europe as well. I'm thinking about using the word wrangler in the name of the business. The meaning I'm intending is &...
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1answer
109 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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