Questions tagged [usage]

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

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7
votes
3answers
26k views

Correct usage of ‘on’, ‘at’ and ‘in’

As a foreign English speaker who never really studied too much English grammar other than the basics at high school, I often struggle to decide what is the correct preposition to use in certain ...
131
votes
3answers
486k views

What is the difference between “till” and “until”?

What is the difference between till and until? When to use till or until? Please explain with examples.
16
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1answer
1k views

Data is/are in a global context

I have been commissioned to script a series of brief videos on the importance of data accuracy and consistency. The videos are directed to employees of a company with offices around the world—...
16
votes
5answers
5k views

When is it appropriate to use “scare quotes”?

For example, is putting scare quotes around "scare quotes" appropriate? Wikipedia says the term means usage of quote marks "to indicate that [a word or phrase] does not signify its literal or ...
130
votes
13answers
353k views

When should “no problem” replace “you're welcome” as a response to “thank you”?

I have observed a growing trend in which people substitute "no problem" for "you're welcome" as a response to "thank you". In particular, it seems to be an increasingly common response from servers ...
0
votes
4answers
1k views

“woman” or “women” as a stand-in for the adjective “female”? [closed]

As in, Emily Dickinson was a great woman poet or Emily Dickinson was a great women poet in order to mean Emily Dickinson was a great female poet Think I may have seen this adjectival usage ...
0
votes
4answers
3k views

There is (there's) vs.There are

What are the roots of the creeping usage of "there's" for both singular and plural predicates? (This seems to be more common in spoken English.) I have 2 theories. Perhaps it is because spoken ...
10
votes
4answers
26k views

“Mom and Dad” vs “Dad and Mom” [duplicate]

I'm curious if the order implies anything here. I'm pretty sure "Mom and Dad" is standard in English. The issue was hard for me to google, so I'm asking it here: Is using "Dad" before "Mom" incorrect,...
54
votes
8answers
9k views

“To science the sh*t out of something”

In The Martian movie, Matt Damon (Watney), when left stranded on Mars with very limited resources to survive, says: Mark Watney: In the face of overwhelming odds, I'm left with only one option, I'm ...
9
votes
3answers
5k views

English usage: Every vs all?

Today I was writing a simple message to be shown to the user whenever at least one field was not supplied. Every/All fields must be supplied. I'm in doubt about the usage of Every vs All, which ...
13
votes
3answers
28k views

“Geometric” or “Geometrical”?

I have read the excellent answers to Why is it "geometric" but "theoretical" - my question is specifically about usage. Is there a best practice for deciding between the variants geometric and ...
7
votes
3answers
4k views

Is there a term/word for using an incorrect homophone

What would you call the following: Speak now or forever hold your piece.
16
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5answers
30k views

“Thus” vs. “Thusly”

I read an article that used "thusly" and was wondering if there is any grammatical credence to it. The quote: The issue started when Sokolowski quickly ran out of storage capacity in his 32GB ...
8
votes
5answers
69k views

Does “turning down the air conditioning” make it warmer or colder?

As the title says, I've heard two possible meanings for turning down the air conditioning: It could mean set the target temperature lower (i.e. colder) or make it work less (i.e. warmer). Turning ...
8
votes
4answers
8k views

Are “not uncommon” and similar phrases double negatives? Should their use be avoided?

When I think of double negatives I think of phrases that grate on the ears, like: I'm not going to do no homework. I'm never going to not go visit Graceland. There are some phrases that appear to ...
34
votes
2answers
291k views

“On a page” or “in a page” for a web page

Which is the correct usage: Something on a page OR Something in a page By page, I mean a web page, not a physical book page.
12
votes
2answers
350k views

When to use “respectively”? [duplicate]

I have been wondering what it means when people use "respectively" in, before, and after sentences. For example: We are looking for a babysitter to pick up and supervise our kids ages 6 and 3, ...
2
votes
4answers
31k views

Is “forth and back” more proper than “back and forth”?

I think the term "back and forth" gets thrown around a lot without much thought. From Dictionary.com: forth    [fawrth, fohrth] adverb 1. onward or outward in place or space; forward: to ...
3
votes
5answers
58k views

Correct usage of 'but for'?

Does 'but for' mean: 'If we had X (but we didn't), Y would have been the consequence'? Or can it also mean; because we had X, as a result Y happened? Some different examples of but for: (Case 1) ...
60
votes
7answers
60k views

What is the correct plural form of LEGO: LEGO or Legos?

I've seen many people make reference to LEGO as Legos. E.g. "I enjoy playing with my Legos". But from my understanding, this is incorrect and they should be referred to simply as LEGO (in capitals as ...
37
votes
3answers
5k views

Is there a name for an adjective that cannot precede a noun?

I accept that my premise may be incorrect, but here it is. The word alone, when used as an adjective, seems only to fit in sentences of the form: The X is alone. and not in the form: ...
33
votes
6answers
8k views

What is the difference between Ukraine and the Ukraine?

Time magazine (March 5th) carries the article titled, “Ukraine, not the Ukraine: The significance of three little letters,” in which the following comment of William Taylor, who served as the U.S. ...
18
votes
5answers
6k views

Is a snake's venom poisonous (or venomous)?

This is a question more concerning the word poisonous and venomous than poison vs. venom. I'm wondering about the following, specifically the last sentence: Don't eat the plant, it is poisonous. The ...
6
votes
2answers
31k views

“Balconies”, “porches”, “decks”, “terraces”, “verandas”, “lanais”, “galleries”, and “piazzas” in GAE and dialectal AE

In AE, a porch is apparently just about the same structure as a veranda, i.e. an open or enclosed gallery or room attached to the outside of a building. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/porch http://...
6
votes
5answers
25k views

“there doesn't seem” vs. “there don't seem”

As an example, consider the two sentences: There don't seem to be any doctors here. and There doesn't seem to be any doctors here. To my ear, the first sounds great, and the second is ...
1
vote
1answer
2k views

Are there any universal rules in appropriating “_an,” “_sh,” “_es,” “_ch” for the demonyms of countries? [duplicate]

Suffixes indicating people and language of country vary by country: _an: American, German, Italian, Belgian, Australian, Russian, Ukrainian, Korean, Mexican, Brazilian, Chilean, Argentinean, ...
27
votes
5answers
13k 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 ...
5
votes
4answers
10k views

Which is more common - 'the most' or 'most'?

A thing I have never had the time to look more closely into. But I find both variants: What I love most is ... or What I love the most is ... I think the more common form is 'the most', and I ...
4
votes
3answers
4k views

What dialect is “I be doing this”?

In which part of the world do people use sentences like "I be doing this" (missing out the 'will' after the 'I')? Sounds like some of the 'street-ghetto' to me. What is it exactly?
2
votes
4answers
1k views

What special implication does ‘totally’ have in “He’s totally going to call you”?

There was the following sentence in an article titled, “Like, Degrading the Language? No Way” in New York Times (April 5), in which the author says Americans are moving backward on language: “(Like ...
8
votes
2answers
16k views

Why is “Good Night!” dismissive

To start off let us construct a situation were I am walking along and I pass another person. Depending on the time of day and to be polite I say one of the following: "Good Morning!" "Good Evening!" "...
5
votes
2answers
4k views

Can “must not” be used alternately to “can't” in AE to say that sth is logically impossible?

Does American English allow the use of "must not" instead of "can't" to say that something is believed to be logically impossible? Please consider the following examples: It must not be true! How ...
3
votes
2answers
9k views

When to pronounce # for pound, sharp, hash or hashtag? [duplicate]

How to pronounce # in a proper way? Currently, I know it's used to pronounce "pound" in US English, "hash" in British English, "sharp" for C#--a programming language, and number sign to list items. ...
0
votes
2answers
1k views

Word with -ee as a suffix

Is it correct English to be able to add the suffix -ee on to any verb to show the object of that verb? Ex: Abandonee is "one to whom something is abandoned" Observee is "one who is ...
0
votes
2answers
578 views

The occurrence of comparative degree

I've checked in LGWSE by Douglas Biber, Stig Johannson et al (2004) but failed to find the explanation as to what the cases of usage of the comparative degree are. In all Russian grammar texbooks of ...
26
votes
2answers
673k views

How to correctly apply “in which”, “of which”, “at which”, “to which”, etc? [closed]

How does one correctly apply “in which”, “of which”, “at which”, “to which”, etc.? I'm confused with which one to apply when constructing sentences around these.
13
votes
2answers
242k views

Was vs had been

I guess this question has been asked before, but please take a look the following sentence and tell me if there is a difference between them. When the transaction had been completed, A was still a ...
59
votes
17answers
24k views

“Can I” vs “May I” in restaurant setting when ordering

A while back, while we were getting fast food, my friend commented on my usage of "can" versus "may" when asking to take my order. I said: Can I have a ....... and my friend argued you're ...
11
votes
4answers
131k views

“was able to” vs “could”

According to my grammar book, here are some usages of was able to and could could can be used to refer in general that someone has a skill. e.g. At that time I could still read without spectacles. ...
9
votes
3answers
70k views

When to use “most” or “the most”

I came across with this sentence and it cast me doubt the usage of "most" and "the most" The sentence states: "But what I remembered most is moving a lot" Would it change the meaning of the ...
27
votes
4answers
2k views

What is the origin and extent of the Indian English usage of “only” to emphasize something?

I live in southern India, and for a long time I've been curious about this phenomenon that I've observed. Indian English uses the word "only" in a special way. It's used to emphasize things. Sort ...
23
votes
5answers
86k views

Install on, install in, install to

When I say "programs to install on a new PC" it sounds alright to me, but I'm not sure if it's the correct usage. Which one of the following should I use? Programs to install on a new PC Programs to ...
8
votes
6answers
44k views

The meaning of the English idiom “pot calling the kettle black”

I would like to know something more about this idiom and how North American or English speaking people use it. Is the idiom considered outdated or offensive by young people? When is "pot calling the ...
29
votes
8answers
11k views

Why do Americans add “The” in front of a team name, but the British do not?

I'm not certain that there is an answer to this one: Americans refer to our teams as The Example: The New York Yankees The British in my experience do not. Example: Manchester United I know ...
7
votes
3answers
59k views

Function of “too” in the phrase “so too” or “so, too,”

I just ran into this sentence in an online article: But as the App Store’s fortunes rose, so too did the iPhone’s, and later the iPad’s. If I were editing that sentence, I would remove the too on ...
25
votes
2answers
5k views

Indian English: What usage is allowed for “doubt” (meaning “question”)?

I have a doubt about having a doubt. I learned from this question that in Indian English the word doubt is used to mean question, that is, as a countable noun. If my understanding is correct, the ...
5
votes
4answers
3k views

Why did the KJV use “thou” toward God?

The word "thou" (and similar variations of the Latin tu in other languages) was used between people for informal speech, and talking to people of lower standing. So why did people use it (most ...
5
votes
8answers
59k views

When would you say “I seen it.”

I am not looking for explanations of why "I seen it" is wrong (though with sight there's an unfair grammatical burden that doesn't impact the other senses, whose past tense and past participle are the ...
3
votes
1answer
6k views

Nationalities - When do we use the singular or plural form

I always have doubts whether to use a singular or a plural noun when I refer to certain peoples. For example, we say Americans, Italians, Brazilians, Russians and Austrians. But we say The British, ...
27
votes
6answers
9k views

Are “Fish in a barrel” and “Sitting ducks” similar?

Do the phrases "Fish in a barrel" and "Sitting ducks" convey the same thing? In my opinion, they have the same tone and express something to be an easy target. Eg: Out there, they are just fish in ...

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