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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366 votes
22 answers
125k views

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 ...
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  • 3,827
140 votes
17 answers
187k views

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 ...
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  • 4,900
180 votes
12 answers
1.0m views

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?
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  • 2,031
61 votes
14 answers
58k views

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 ...
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  • 4,255
71 votes
11 answers
23k views

"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 ...
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  • 6,763
31 votes
3 answers
13k views

"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 ...
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  • 57.8k
38 votes
6 answers
45k views

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 ...
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  • 147k
45 votes
5 answers
54k views

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 ...
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  • 9,963
65 votes
5 answers
558k views

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?
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60 votes
7 answers
96k views

“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 ...
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  • 1,511
57 votes
6 answers
184k views

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

When should I use can? When should I use could? What is right under what context?
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24 votes
5 answers
11k views

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 ...
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  • 2,226
39 votes
6 answers
29k views

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" ...
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162 votes
4 answers
840k views

"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 ...
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  • 7,108
14 votes
4 answers
82k views

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 ...
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  • 346
71 votes
4 answers
779k views

"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?
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  • 7,108
51 votes
3 answers
201k views

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?
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  • 5,867
33 votes
13 answers
59k views

"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"?
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17 votes
6 answers
359k views

"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.
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38 votes
12 answers
101k views

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” ...
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35 votes
4 answers
160k views

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 ...
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  • 5,336
5 votes
4 answers
2k views

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 ...
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221 votes
21 answers
215k views

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 ...
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  • 68.9k
32 votes
4 answers
49k views

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, ...
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37 votes
3 answers
51k views

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 ...
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11 votes
3 answers
13k views

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 ...
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  • 7,417
61 votes
4 answers
48k views

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 ...
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  • 685
28 votes
6 answers
605k views

"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 ...
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  • 571
7 votes
3 answers
27k 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 ...
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15 votes
3 answers
32k views

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?
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  • 313
104 votes
8 answers
23k views

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 ...
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  • 1,253
14 votes
17 answers
65k views

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 ...
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  • 157
2 votes
2 answers
850 views

Headline Language

Is there a particular term for the abbreviated language used in headlines (the removal of at least articles and conjunctions)?
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  • 165
74 votes
2 answers
1.4m views

"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 ...
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  • 5,867
70 votes
10 answers
127k views

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 ...
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  • 95.6k
98 votes
9 answers
390k views

"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 ...
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  • 3,584
22 votes
1 answer
5k views

"The ticket is printing" vs "...is 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 ...
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  • 407
5 votes
6 answers
51k views

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?
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119 votes
19 answers
560k views

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 ...
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  • 9,963
122 votes
24 answers
1.0m views

"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 ...
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  • 1,351
13 votes
3 answers
76k views

“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 ...
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26 votes
15 answers
22k views

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.
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  • 1,942
18 votes
6 answers
11k views

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 ...
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48 votes
6 answers
547k views

"Speak to" vs. "Speak with"

What are the differences between these two phrasal verbs and what are the best situations to use each?
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  • 7,108
40 votes
4 answers
14k views

"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.
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  • 1,011
23 votes
2 answers
324k views

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?
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26 votes
6 answers
26k views

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'...
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25 votes
3 answers
235k views

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

When do we use "at" and "in" with "arrive" talking about place, not time?
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  • 1,061
23 votes
4 answers
42k views

Difference between 'all' and 'all the'

I came across people using all the in sentences instead of all. Select the type of user to view all the users of that type. All the users of the selected role are displayed. I usually strike out ...
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  • 431
14 votes
7 answers
20k views

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.
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  • 149

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