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
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
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
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
157 votes
3 answers
555k views

"Replace with" versus "replace by"

I often see "replace with" and "replace by" used interchangeably, but this doesn't sound right to me: I replaced that component by this one. I would use "with" in such a sentence. "By" only seems ...
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  • 1,673
147 votes
4 answers
229k views

"Unselect" or "Deselect"?

If I want the user to revert their operation of selecting an item, should I say: "Unselect the option" or "Deselect the option"?
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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
137 votes
10 answers
252k views

What is the difference between "complicated" and "complex"?

I can't understand: what's the difference between complicated and complex? They seem to be used interchangeably. Are they actually different at all?
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  • 1,479
135 votes
9 answers
69k views

The plural of "index"–"indexes" or "indices"?

A table may have one index, or it could have more [...]? Is it indexes or indices? I'm just asking this because I've noticed they're both used quite often. Even Wikipedia seems to support both ...
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134 votes
3 answers
495k 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.
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  • 1,717
125 votes
2 answers
1.9m views

Is it "bear" or "bare" with me? [closed]

Is it "bear" or "bare" with me?
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  • 4,259
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
121 votes
13 answers
17k views

What is the word for things that work even when they aren't working (e.g. escalators)?

I'm looking for a word (or phrase) to describe mechanisms that are perfectly functional even when they aren't functioning as expected. Examples of these include: Escalators & Electric Walkways: ...
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  • 1,213
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
108 votes
9 answers
11k views

Is there a word for a person with only one head?

Reading this article by the fantastic Douglas Adams I came across this interesting quote: ‘[I]nteractivity’ is one of those neologisms that Mr Humphrys likes to dangle between a pair of verbal ...
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  • 4,460
107 votes
14 answers
91k views

"Email" or "e-mail"?

Which way of writing the word: "Email" or "e-mail" is correct? Both variants seem to be in wide use. If both ones are okay, maybe there is a difference in contexts they have been used (one is more ...
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  • 9,963
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
100 votes
3 answers
91k views

Difference between "delete" and "remove" [closed]

I am writing a mobile application that will, as a part of its functionality, display a list of recorded thoughts. Now I am deciding the textual content of the menus and that left me thinking whether ...
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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
95 votes
3 answers
18k views

Why is there no "autumntime" or "falltime"?

Why is "autumntime" (or "falltime") not a word? wintertime => sure springtime => fine summertime => lovely But apparently autumn/fall has no equivalent. Why?
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  • 1,295
92 votes
3 answers
132k views

"Maximum" vs. "maximal"

What is the difference in usage between maximum and maximal? When would you use one or the other? Maximum can be a noun or an adjective: This is the maximum it can be set to. This is the ...
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  • 1,961
91 votes
6 answers
179k views

What's the difference between a graph, a chart, and a plot?

A graph, a chart, and a plot can all refer to the same thing. Is there any even somewhat consistent distinction in these three words? (I mean, in this particular sense of the words; it is not ...
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  • 1,034
89 votes
5 answers
724k views

"Consist in" vs. "consist of"

I would like to clarify this once and for all: What is the correct use of "consist in" vs. "consist of"? "Meditation consists in/of attentive watchfulness." "The ...
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  • 1,320
89 votes
3 answers
150k views

Which is correct, "dataset" or "data set"? [closed]

I keep writing dataset. Is that correct, or should I write data set?
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  • 57.8k
87 votes
10 answers
177k views

Equivalent of "both" when referring to three or more items?

What would be the correct word to use when referring to three or more items, in the same manner as the word both? For example, using two words, with the word both: "There are several ...
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  • 1,136
84 votes
28 answers
141k views

Idiom or word for a very crowded place

There is a popular idiom in Russian for describing a really crowded place: "(there's) no room for an apple to fall" ("яблоку негде упасть"). I struggle to think of anything similar in English, and ...
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  • 95.6k
83 votes
6 answers
1.2m views

Is it "Yours faithfully" or "Yours sincerely"?

When should one sign a letter with "Yours faithfully" or "Yours sincerely"?
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  • 1,983
83 votes
2 answers
853k views

"Have a look" vs. "Take a look"

What is the difference between Have a look and Take a look (meaning/connotations)? For example: Have a look at the question. Take a look at the question. For some reason I only found first version, ...
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  • 1,215
81 votes
3 answers
307k views

What's the difference between 'resolve' and 'solve'?

What's the difference between 'resolve' and 'solve'?
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  • 5,547
78 votes
6 answers
61k views

"Extensible" vs. "extendible"

Where does the adjective form extensible come from and does it connote anything different than extendible? What's the difference, if any, between the two?
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  • 823
78 votes
1 answer
380k views

Which is correct: "feedback is welcome" or "feedback is welcomed"?

I am used to writing feedback is welcome. Is that correct, or should I write feedback is welcomed? Why?
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  • 57.8k
76 votes
12 answers
156k views

What is the difference between "it's up to you" and "it's down to you"?

I see both "It's up to you" and "It's down to you" in conversations. So what's the difference?
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  • 853
76 votes
8 answers
519k views

What is the difference between 'make decision' and 'take decision'?

What is the difference between make decision and take decision? When to use the one and when the other?
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  • 1,211
75 votes
4 answers
12k views

Why is it "behead" and not "dehead"?

The be- prefix in behead doesn't seem to match similar words like become, besmirch, or befuddle. Of course, the same prefix could serve different roles depending on the word. What role is be- serving ...
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  • 6,786
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
73 votes
14 answers
52k views

Is there a polite alternative to "No thanks, I'm full"?

English is not my native language, but when I was studying in the US, I was always trying to find an alternative to I'm full! I felt that it was a very improper way to express that I have eaten ...
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  • 763
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
71 votes
5 answers
635k views

"Fill out a form" or "fill in a form"

Does one fill out a form or does one fill in a form? I've gotten different answers from the people I've asked. Google search results: fill in a form — 14,200,000 fill out a form — 7,000,000
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  • 1,552
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
70 votes
13 answers
231k views

"Based on" instead of "based off of"

I sometimes see cases where off is followed by of, and it sounds awkward to me. For example, I would prefer This story is based on a true story. to This story is based off of a true story. ...
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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
69 votes
12 answers
12k views

What's a less offensive substitute for "rep-whores"?

This is a frequently thrown-around term on Internet forums in general and Stack Exchange specifically. Although it conveys a lot of meaning, I'd much prefer a phrase with a less offensive origin. ...
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  • 877
69 votes
7 answers
32k views

Which is the correct spelling: "grey" or "gray"?

What is the difference? Or is there any? Which would be more British English?
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  • 1,559
69 votes
9 answers
216k views

What is the correct usage of "myriad"?

The vast majority of the time when I see the word "myriad" it is in a sentence like "He had a myriad of things." However I don't like the extraneous words so I normally use it like "He had myriad ...
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  • 1,606
68 votes
10 answers
161k views

Is "errored" correct usage?

If "errored" is not a valid word, then how should I say: The program errored at line 44 I guess I could say: The program threw an error at line 44 But why is "errored" wrong? Is there a better ...
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  • 1,535
68 votes
4 answers
194k views

"Relation" versus "relationship"

What is the difference between relation and relationship? Some say that relationship often refers to social connections. For instance, She has a close relationship with her daughter. How about the ...
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  • 1,393
67 votes
4 answers
10k views

What is the purpose of using the word "automagically" when we already have "automatically"?

Is there a difference between the two? I see it used regularly in the tech community to mean automatically. Has the word been adopted into any recognised dictionary? For example: That was the day ...
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67 votes
3 answers
423k views

"Solution for" or "solution to" a problem?

I need to find a solution to/for this problem. Can to and for be used interchangeably here? Is one of them just plain wrong?
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  • 1,493
67 votes
4 answers
276k views

When to use & instead of "and"

Are there rules of usage when using the ampersand "&" instead of "and"? Are they completely interchangeable? The ampersand seems more casual, but I'm not sure.
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  • 4,089
66 votes
8 answers
9k views

Which term correctly identifies those who enjoy programming/technology: "geek" or "nerd"?

Which term correctly identifies those who enjoy and are involved with programming and technology, geek or nerd?
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  • 2,145

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