Questions tagged [usage]

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

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5
votes
2answers
55k 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
47 views

“Having” vs “Being in” a fight [closed]

I was reading some articles on the Internet when I came across this sentence: I was being in a fight with him. Is using "being in a fight" correct, or does it need to be changed to "...
3
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3answers
1k views

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 ...
35
votes
8answers
2k views

Can a statement be “hissed” without any sibilants?

Is using hissed as a replacement for said technically acceptable in dialogue without the presence of any sibilants? "You fool!" she hissed. I understand that hissed could be used to indicate a ...
6
votes
4answers
15k views

When did “by way of” start meaning “originally from”

Some years ago, after returning to New York from some years living abroad, I began to notice New Yorkers of a certain generation (in their 20s and early 30s) describing themselves or others as "...
0
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1answer
47 views

“overlooked” opposite meaning

All, I am wondering how the same word may refer to two opposite meanings. According to the free dictionary https://www.thefreedictionary.com/overlooked, overlooked may mean a thorough examination or ...
0
votes
1answer
47 views

Use of “whenever” or “when” instead of “if” in logical sentences

The conjunction "if" is used a lot in scientific writing. I wonder if it is correct to replace it with "when" and/or "whenever". For example, instead of writing: (1) a · ...
-1
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5answers
2k views

What's the reason for using the ‘passive voice’? [closed]

I would like to know the why and when the 'passive voice' is used instead of the 'active voice' in English. The following definition did not help me very much. passive voice the voice used to ...
5
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1answer
2k views

Why can't I use “easierly” instead of “in an easier manner” or “more easily”?

Can you please explain why it is incorrect English?
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1answer
71 views

“Unlike” vs. “compared to”

I've been reading a novel when I came across this sentence: Her being so helpless unlike her normal self made me a bit sad. I want to ask about that "unlike" in the sentence. Is it correct ...
1
vote
1answer
56 views

Usage of adverb 'each'

The tickets cost £20 each (=each ticket costs £20). You get two cookies each (=every one of you gets two cookies). They each have their own skills. The question I'm asking is why 'they each have their ...
0
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0answers
16 views

What is the rule for using the words “this” or “that” at the beginning of a sentence

I tend to use the word this at the beginning of a sentence when I want to refer to something I said in the previous sentence. For example: The purpose of a singleton pattern is to allow only one ...
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3answers
12k views

Meaning of the phrase “What in carnation?”

What does the phrase "What in carnation" mean in the following sentence? What in carnation are you saying? Does the speaker mean "What are you saying about?" in the sentence above? I googled for ...
2
votes
2answers
83 views

What kind of word is “Frankenstein” in this context?

This question was asked on ELL.SE. ...and as answered over there, the verb "To Frankenstein" is a reference to popular culture that implies to cobble together (a team in this case) from ...
0
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1answer
22 views

Natural Collocations (Finance)

Could you please tell me what the native-like option for this case is: He diversifies his stock portfolio OR He varies his stock portfolio. I am talking about the stock market (finance).
1
vote
1answer
34 views

On the hunt for him VS On his hunt

I know the idiom On the hunt But I have a question about the usage. I believe these are correct: He was on the hunt for clues. She was on the hunt for the escaped criminal. However, (1) can I use it ...
1
vote
2answers
32 views

Using “the” without referring to something before [duplicate]

I was surfing the Internet when I saw this sentence: From there, you can see the beautiful scene where the sunset's reflecting over the ocean. As far as I've known, "the" is used when you ...
0
votes
2answers
11k views

Does one say “allegory for” or “allegory of”?

How does one correctly use the word "allegory" in a sentence? For example: This story is an allegory [for|of] pride. I have seen examples of both: the long poem is an allegory of love and ...
0
votes
1answer
66 views

Making requests with “are you able” [closed]

Is it ok or common to use "are you able" to make a request instead of using "can you" or "could you" when you know that the person is able to do the task and you are just ...
0
votes
0answers
32 views

Adverbial clause & subject

I was reading through a book when I came across this sentence: But looking at the disastrous state of the kitchen, hopefully what she's making won't turn out to be so... staggering. The adverbial ...
4
votes
1answer
129 views

Is there a difference between “clothe with” and “clothe in”?

I would use the verb clothe either with the preposition with or in. Is there any difference in meaning? On free dictionary I found this example: She clothed her children ***in*** the finest garments. ...
9
votes
6answers
4k views

What's the feminine equivalent of “your obedient servant” as a letter closing? [closed]

I'm a student learning English and recently came across the United Kingdom's declaration of war on Japan, which ends with: I have the honour to be, with high consideration, Sir, Your obedient servant,...
0
votes
1answer
74 views

Is there a phrase called “flip the switch” or “flip one's switch”?

I was reading a novel when I came across this line: Just by looking at her face, I felt as if the switch inside my head was flipped. I want to ask: is the phrase "the switch inside my head was ...
0
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2answers
3k views

Can “My girl” also be used to refer to my daughter?

I today accidentally used "My girl is 5 months old" and I meant to refer to my daughter in this sentence. In the given context it does sound like what I meant to say but wanted to know if it can ...
0
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1answer
21 views

Longing context? [closed]

Longing = a yearning desire. But is that for something you never had or for thing you had but now are missing.
0
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1answer
71 views

If+Past Perfect + would + base form or … + base form of 'be' (+ verb + ing)? Mixed conditional!

I know the structure of the mixed conditional, when past event has a result in a present situation - If+Past Perfect + would + base form. But all the example sentences I find are using the base form ...
0
votes
1answer
51 views

Using shy or short to indicate shortage

I am hoping to gain a better understanding of how the words "shy" and "short" are used to indicate a shortage. The order will be shy/short of 10 cases. The order will be 10 cases ...
-1
votes
1answer
44 views

What's the difference between chip away and chip away AT something? [closed]

I've been trying to identify the difference in usage between saying chip away and chip away at something but I can't see any. The sentences in dictionaries all seem like they could accept both. So my ...
1
vote
2answers
699 views

Are there any rules to using “semi-”, the prefix?

The prefix semi means "half, partial". Examples such as semi-annual/semiannual and semi-truck come up quite often. I got into a debate with someone. He used the term semi-sales to refer to a ...
8
votes
3answers
72k views

“Normalise” or “normalize” (British English)?

Is normalise perhaps obsolete in British English, and normalize preferred instead? I have done some Googling, it seems British English dictionaries prefer normalize, but I haven't found any ...
0
votes
1answer
47 views

Whet's the difference between way to tell and way to say? [closed]

What's the difference in meaning and intention between: A) There's no way to say if she was poisoned. and B) There's no way to tell if she was poisoned.
0
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1answer
17 views

Is this sentence ambiguous or not?

To my way of thinking, the last sentence " The upsetting event could even be something as simple as sitting here right now, reading this book, feeling depressed, anxious, or discouraged." ...
10
votes
2answers
1k views

Is “Black” correct, incorrect, or could it be used as either “Black” or “black”? [duplicate]

I was reading an article that I was assigned by my professor, and I came across the following: “We’re the ones getting killed,” Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers, who is Black, said in an ...
0
votes
0answers
43 views

Round the body or around the body?

I am teaching an English book and there is this sentence makes me confused: the heart pumps blood round the body.... Should it be around the body? If not, what is the reason and what's the ...
0
votes
0answers
31 views

Ending a sentence with a pronoun and verb

Is it okay to end a sentence with a pronoun band verb? For example, "What a fine young lass you are" Or "A progressive thinker you are".
5
votes
7answers
477 views

Usage of “the cubalow” - Has anyone heard the phrase?

When I was a child in the 1950s I remember my mother calling the domestic hot water tank 'the cubalow', sounding like 'queuebelow'. Has anyone else heard this word being used?
0
votes
0answers
35 views

Collective term for the nationality of a person and country of incorporation of a company

I'm trying to find a term that would be equally suitable to describe the nationality of a person, as well as to describe the country of incorporation of a company, I'm ready to give up and use the ...
0
votes
1answer
445 views

Does “swap A for B” imply a direction?

I am not an English native, so maybe the question is trivial. In case you're confused why I even ask: the German "tauschen" has no direction included. You shouldn't have both CDs and DVDs, ...
4
votes
3answers
47k views

Is “those information” valid, or is it “this information”?

I know information does not have a plural form (syntaxically talking), which leads me to the following problem: The username and password are missing. I need [this/those] information. I feel like ...
3
votes
1answer
130 views

What is the origin of extra prepositions added after verbs in Indian English?

It seems that speakers of Indian English often add prepositions to create phrasal verbs in situations where the verb would have been sufficient on its own. Some examples I have noticed: to “pass out” ...
0
votes
1answer
29 views

it was to be a time when meaning

I was watching a history movie that I saw a new sentence, So I can't meaning that. "It was to be a time when Florence set the standards for European art and culture." I know be to used for ...
1
vote
1answer
732 views

'Whosever': Why is this word going out of usage?

Whosever foot fits into the slipper, that woman will be my wife. Though English is not my native language, due to years of reading, 'whosever' as a possessive came naturally to me in the above ...
3
votes
3answers
1k views

“We three” vs “us three”

In the sentence, "We three will go to the Express mall. You can find we/us three there, having a good time." I'm unsure whether to use we/us for the second reference. I have read about we ...
12
votes
4answers
40k views

What website will give me the frequency of a word in the English language?

Is there a website that will give me a frequency of a word in the English language? I am looking for some thing like this: I would type in the word, and it would give me a frequency rating. I have ...
-1
votes
2answers
38 views

Use of the word ‘different’

Here are some examples of 'different' from the Internet: […] visited several schools in three different communities […] […] the verses of Kabir have four different senses; illusion, spirit, intellect,...
-1
votes
1answer
64 views

Meaning and usage of “rife with uncertainty” [closed]

What is the meaning of "rife with uncertainty" and where it can be used? I search the meaning but I cannot find desirable answers. Moreover, is it possible to use the "rife with" + ...
0
votes
1answer
68 views

What is the meaning of “let in” in : “but they were let in in early in the spring through the Venezuelan loan, as no doubt you remember”

I am quoting from The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, the Stockbroker's clerk, by Arthur Conan Doyle. It says: "I used to have a billet at Coxon and Woodhouse's, of Drapers' Gardens, but they were ...
0
votes
2answers
52 views

“It is ___ that/who + verb.” pleonasm vs. “___ + verb.”

Is there a place for using these pleonasms: "It is John who runs." (instead of: "John runs.") "It was congress that legislated." (instead of: "Congress legislated.&...
1
vote
3answers
1k views

Is it possible for an adjective to modify another adjective?

While I doubt an adjective can modify another one, I'm wondering if it may be possible. Here is the example: "An immaculate black three-piece suit." Most likely, I'd have to use the adverb ...
0
votes
0answers
33 views

Omitting the relative pronoun “that”

I came across this sentence while surfing on the Internet: Now I'm calculating how many pages I should do per day (that) would be reasonable. When read out loud, the sentence sounds sort of natural, ...

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