Questions tagged [word-choice]

This tag is for questions about choosing the best word FROM A GIVEN SELECTION for a particular context or meaning. The selection to choose from must appear in the question. If you do not know the word already, use single-word-requests.

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374 votes
22 answers

Is there a correct gender-neutral singular pronoun ("his" vs. "her" vs. "their")?

Is there a pronoun I can use as a gender-neutral pronoun when referring back to a singular noun phrase? Each student should save his questions until the end. Each student should save her questions ...
Nulldevice's user avatar
  • 3,907
143 votes
17 answers

When should I use "a" vs "an"?

In the following example, is it appropriate to use a or an as the indefinite article, and why? He ate __ green apple. I know that in the case of just "apple", it would be "an apple," but I've ...
Caleb Hearth's user avatar
  • 4,980
182 votes
12 answers

When to use "If I was" vs. "If I were"?

If I was... If I were... When is it correct to use "If I was" vs. "If I were" in standard English?
KV Prajapati's user avatar
  • 2,051
61 votes
14 answers

I can run faster than _____. (1) him (2) he?

Consider the sentence "I can run faster than 15 miles per hour." Its meaning is clear and to my eyes obviously grammatically correct. Now let me present some variations that have given me ...
ErikE's user avatar
  • 4,417
70 votes
11 answers

"Less" vs. "fewer"

I've just received a memo which says (effectively) As more people leave, there will be less people available. I want that word to be fewer. Are there guidelines for which word ought to be used ...
J.T. Grimes's user avatar
  • 6,833
41 votes
6 answers

Types of things vs. types of thing

When speaking precisely or technically, one would say that "Homo erectus and homo sapiens are two species of hominid" rather than "Homo erectus and homo sapiens are two species of hominids." The ...
Robusto's user avatar
  • 151k
33 votes
3 answers

"User accounts" or "users account"

Is it correct to say user accounts or users account when referring to the accounts any user has on a site like this one? In general, in the case of a noun that is used as adjective for the noun that ...
apaderno's user avatar
  • 59.1k
46 votes
5 answers

Using "that" and "this" interchangeably

Learning and using English I'm always confused about what word to use for referring to things that have been described by me a few sentences earlier: "that" or "this". Confusion comes from the fact ...
rem's user avatar
  • 10.3k
59 votes
7 answers

“between” vs. “among”

Today I was cut off in the middle of the following sentence: Between Cook, Strauss, and Pietersen— My friend said I was wrong. He said that for more than two entities, among/amongst are used, and ...
Akin's user avatar
  • 1,511
68 votes
5 answers

Difference between "I have got" and "I have gotten"

I see these two expressions are used almost identically in different contexts. Is there a difference between I have got and I have gotten?
Anderson Silva's user avatar
40 votes
6 answers

Is it acceptable to use "is become" instead of "has become"?

In the King James version of the Bible there is a verse like this: The Lord is my strength, and my fortress, and my song. And He is become my salvation. Is it still feasible to use "is become" ...
user avatar
166 votes
4 answers

"More clear" vs "Clearer": when to use "more" instead of "-er"?

Which one of these adjectives is correct? I can see that both of them are being used, I'm just not sure which one is grammatically correct. Are there any general rules to follow as to the use of one ...
Mysterion's user avatar
  • 7,318
24 votes
5 answers

When are "if" and "whether" equivalent?

Are if and whether equivalent in sentences like the ones below? How to determine if my saddle is too high? How to determine whether my saddle is too high? We should check if everything is ...
Ivo Rossi's user avatar
  • 2,266
58 votes
6 answers

When do I use "can" or "could"?

When should I use can? When should I use could? What is right under what context?
Ramprasad Prabhakar's user avatar
16 votes
5 answers

How to use "who" vs. "that"

I often get confused when trying to use who vs that. Some examples that often confuse me: That The person that went to the store. The people that went shopping. The persons that went ...
O.O's user avatar
  • 366
74 votes
4 answers

"Effect" vs. "Affect"

I've noticed that some people use effect and affect interchangeably. What are the differences between these two and when are the proper situations to use each of them?
Mysterion's user avatar
  • 7,318
52 votes
3 answers

When should "into" be used rather than "in to," and vice versa?

"Into" (one word) and "in to" (two words) are frequently confused. In what situations should the former be used? The latter?
Pops's user avatar
  • 5,955
33 votes
4 answers

Can “due to” and “because of ” be used interchangeably?

Is it fine to use due to in place of because of ? How about the other way around? Are any of these sentences ungrammatical? He was lost because of the storm. He was lost due to the storm. He lost his ...
Tragicomic's user avatar
  • 5,417
32 votes
13 answers

"May" & "Might": What's the right context?

I may not be coming in tomorrow... I might not be coming in tomorrow... When should I use "may" and when should I use "might"?
Ramprasad Prabhakar's user avatar
228 votes
21 answers

What is a feminine version of 'guys'?

I commonly use the word 'guys' to refer to a group of males colloquially. It's colloquial but not rude, off putting, condescending, patronizing (though I wouldn't use it with a group of men at a board ...
Mitch's user avatar
  • 71.2k
38 votes
12 answers

What does “a couple” mean to you, and what does “a few” mean to you?

What is the proper way to use the terms “a couple” or “a few”? How should one use these words to avoid confusion? How do people use these words in practice. It was striking to hear that “a couple” ...
user avatar
16 votes
6 answers

"Can/may/will you help me with this?"

Which word to use when we ask for help? Some conditions: We know that the person asked is able to do it. We don't know if the person asked is able to do it.
Afriza N. Arief's user avatar
5 votes
4 answers

Avoiding "existential it" while referring to a past event?

I know the use of "existential it" is frowned upon, but I'm not entirely sure how to rephrase the following sentence to remove it: It is hard to tell what would have occurred if the battle had been ...
Alexis King's user avatar
31 votes
4 answers

Why do we say "was supposed to" for "should have"?

I was supposed to do my homework, but I went out clubbing instead. On a literal interpretation, supposed to suggests that other people (or indeed, myself) might have supposed (thought, imagined, ...
FumbleFingers's user avatar
36 votes
3 answers

Person, Persons, People, Peoples

Can you please clarify the relation and differences between these nouns? For example, is it proper to use "persons" instead of "people"? Are they the same? As I believe that "people" is plural, how ...
Mehper C. Palavuzlar's user avatar
15 votes
3 answers

When to use "have" and "have got"

When do I use have and have got? Are "I have the answer" and "I've got the answer" both correct?
Raphael's user avatar
  • 313
11 votes
3 answers

Is it "5–6 weeks are a lot of time" or "5–6 weeks is a lot of time"?

I was just copyediting somebody's answer on another SE site and my native English speaker Sprachgefühl told me I had to correct the grammar of one sentence: ... 5–6 weeks are a lot of time ... by ...
hippietrail's user avatar
  • 7,649
111 votes
8 answers

Which is correct: "__ is different from __" or "__ is different than __"?

As someone who learned English later on in life, I was taught that different from is the correct grammar to use: this is different from that. However, it seems these days everyone uses different than ...
Jin's user avatar
  • 1,323
61 votes
4 answers

When are "because", "since","for" and "as" interchangeable?

I am not a native speaker. On a previous question of mine, I thanked for an answer by saying: So the phrase is not an idiom, since it is applied in its literal sense. I consciously chose since ...
HomoLu's user avatar
  • 685
30 votes
6 answers

"I use to", or "I used to"

Which is the correct sentence, if there is a correct one? I use to be a hitman. I used to be a hitman. I've read the second sentence recently in a book, but I was sure it should be I use to be ...
Chris S's user avatar
  • 591
7 votes
3 answers

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 ...
Martin Marconcini's user avatar
73 votes
2 answers

"Dear Sir or Madam" versus "To whom it may concern"

When is it appropriate to use the terms Dear Sir or Madam and To whom it may concern? The rules I was taught state that Dear Sir or Madam should be used when you're writing a letter to a person about ...
Pops's user avatar
  • 5,955
14 votes
17 answers

What is a word that means "someone who pretends to be your friend but is actually your enemy?"

What do you call someone who pretends to be your friend but is actually your enemy? A friend suggested spy for me, but that does not nearly describe the word I need for an English project. The ...
user87131's user avatar
  • 157
71 votes
10 answers

Alternatives to "and/or"?

As a programmer, I have no problem with seeing or using "and/or" in technical documentation. For example, I can upvote an answer that satisfies me and/or mark it as accepted. That's perfectly good ...
RegDwigнt's user avatar
  • 97.2k
100 votes
9 answers

"A few" vs. "few"

I have few friends. I have a few friends. I thought "few" means just one, two or even none. "A few" typically means more than two. However it seems to me some people say "few" when they really ...
grokus's user avatar
  • 3,674
22 votes
1 answer

"The ticket is printing" vs " being printed"

You're standing in front of a ticket vending machine and it says "The ticket is printing". Is that correct or should it be "The ticket is being printed"? EDIT: If both are correct, which one should ...
Alex's user avatar
  • 407
14 votes
9 answers

Which is grammatically correct: "Let he who..." or "Let him who..."

Let he who believes in this prophet speak now what he knows. Let him who believes in this prophet speak now what he knows.
asianboy's user avatar
  • 149
5 votes
6 answers

Difference between "can" and "may"

Which is correct if I want to request for a pen? Can I have your pen please? May I have your pen please?
Vivek Kalkur's user avatar
123 votes
24 answers

"Lunch" vs. "dinner" vs. "supper" — times and meanings?

I've seen cases where a noon-time meal is referred to as dinner, and the evening meal is called supper. There's also lunch around noon followed by dinner in the evening. Is there a particular ...
Jeff Ferland's user avatar
  • 1,361
120 votes
19 answers

How do native English speakers respond to "Thank you"?

In my school and university I was taught to say "Not at all" or "Don't mention it" in response to "Thank you!". Now I rarely hear these phrases used, but rather something like "You're welcome", "It's ...
rem's user avatar
  • 10.3k
25 votes
15 answers

What is the name of the first decade in a century?

80s: the "Eighties" 90s: the "Nineties" 00s: the ??? For that matter, what is the second decade called? The "tens" just doesn't sound right.
Chris Noe's user avatar
  • 1,962
21 votes
6 answers

Can "real" be used as an adverb to describe an adjective?

Is this correct? That is a real cool answer. I learned that that was incorrect, since "real" is an adjective which can describe a noun, e.g. "real answer" but it is not an adverb which can ...
Edward Tanguay's user avatar
13 votes
3 answers

“situation where” vs. “situation in which”

In my mother tongue I can use the word where not only to describe something connected to a location, but also to substitute in which. My question is: Is it correct to use where in a sentence like ...
MatterGoal's user avatar
134 votes
3 answers

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.
LifeH2O's user avatar
  • 1,785
53 votes
6 answers

"Speak to" vs. "Speak with"

What are the differences between these two phrasal verbs and what are the best situations to use each?
Mysterion's user avatar
  • 7,318
42 votes
4 answers

"This question has been asked at Stack Overflow" vs. "on Stack Overflow"

How should I phrase it: This question has been asked at Stack Overflow. Or, This question has been asked on Stack Overflow.
Graviton's user avatar
  • 1,041
28 votes
6 answers

Should I use 'or' or 'nor' after a negative statement?

This document does not cover the SDK interfaces nor any other reference material. I think the above is correct, but my grammatical checker in Microsoft Word underlines nor and suggests or. Why?
Brian R. Bondy's user avatar
26 votes
6 answers

What Is the Real Name of the #?

I used to say "sharp sign" to refer to the # sign. Today a friend told me that the correct term is number sign or hash sign or even just hash. What is the difference between these options and what'...
Michel Ayres's user avatar
25 votes
2 answers

Which one is right — "He works at company X" or "in company X "?

I usually use "at a company" but I have encountered some articles using "in a company", "in XYZ firm" or "in an organization". Which one is right?
Is Learning English's user avatar
25 votes
3 answers

When do we use "arrive at" versus "arrive in"?

When do we use "at" and "in" with "arrive" talking about place, not time?
Valentina's user avatar
  • 1,071

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