Questions tagged [word-usage]

This tag is for questions about correctly using a word. The word has to be provided within the question. The question should be limited to the usage of one word. For the usage of complete phrases there is the tag phrase-usage.

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Is the noun "points" used as an adjective in "a points victory"?

I read this recently in The Economist: At the end of the summit, the French and European officials had claimed a points victory over the Germans by getting them to agree more firmly to a target date ...
zwangxian's user avatar
  • 647
74 votes
4 answers
780k 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?
Mysterion's user avatar
  • 7,318
38 votes
12 answers
103k 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” ...
user avatar
2 votes
3 answers
175 views

"than it's worth" adjective or noun

It's more headache than it's worth. It's more trouble than it's worth. Is this "worth" adjective or noun? I think the adjective "worth" needs an object after it. However, there is ...
Ran's user avatar
  • 21
36 votes
5 answers
32k views

Reason for the current trend to use «she» as the gender-neutral pronoun?

There are some questions on gender-neutral pronouns both here and on Writers. User Christine Letts writes: In academia, there is currently a movement toward using the feminine pronoun at all ...
Júlio Santos's user avatar
8 votes
4 answers
24k views

"At all" vs "Not at all" in negated sentences

If I say That makes sense to me. I would say definitively at all. That makes sense to me at all. But in the negated sentence I'm not sure. I've the feeling, that it is still at all. But if I say not ...
Em1's user avatar
  • 5,113
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 ...
Martin Marconcini's user avatar
160 votes
7 answers
24k views

Can "doubt" sometimes mean "question"?

I often see questions on Stack Exchange sites which I presume are written by non-native English speakers who use the word "doubt" in place of the word "question". Is this a case of misunderstanding ...
Dennis Williamson's user avatar
38 votes
6 answers
73k views

Usage of "many" vs "many a"?

Can someone please elucidate the difference between "many" and "many a"? In what context of usage should we add an extra "a" beside the word "many"? For example: Many times, I had seen that . ....
Vamsi Emani's user avatar
  • 1,725
13 votes
3 answers
80k 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 ...
MatterGoal's user avatar
134 votes
3 answers
499k 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.
LifeH2O's user avatar
  • 1,785
16 votes
5 answers
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 ...
Bill Lefurgy's user avatar
  • 2,266
17 votes
1 answer
2k 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—...
StoneyB on hiatus's user avatar
134 votes
13 answers
408k 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 ...
JoshDM's user avatar
  • 1,729
36 votes
4 answers
67k views

Is "prepone" being used outside India?

Prepone is a great word - it's the opposite of postpone. When you prepone a meeting, you change its scheduled time so that it occurs sooner than originally planned. Has this usage spread beyond India? ...
Evan's user avatar
  • 1,236
35 votes
3 answers
142k views

May you please explain this?

At a family dinner, my 18-year-old niece asked my sister, "May you please pass the salt?" My sister said that she was impressed with her daughter's politeness, but that that particular wording was not ...
sarah's user avatar
  • 2,688
22 votes
4 answers
421k views

"In school" vs "at school"

I sometimes get confused whether to use in or at. For example, Children were not at school yesterday, because yesterday was a holiday. Children were not in school yesterday, because yesterday was a ...
Nemoden's user avatar
  • 537
13 votes
5 answers
733 views

The use of "real" in the following cases [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Real quick question If you listen real close... Can you swing by real quick... Sentences like the above two are what I often hear in daily life. If I didn't hear them ...
Terry Li's user avatar
  • 10.1k
0 votes
4 answers
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 ...
brendan's user avatar
  • 49
19 votes
5 answers
60k views

How do I choose between "while" and "whilst"? [duplicate]

When should whilst be used instead of while? For example, should I use the first or the second sentence? They don't do this whilst they do that. They don't do this while they do that. Which ...
Yesterday's user avatar
  • 331
6 votes
4 answers
8k views

Is the "will" in "can and will" necessary?

Anyone who's ever seen much American film or television has heard some variation of the following sentences countless times: You have the right to remain silent. If you choose to give up that ...
Darrel Hoffman's user avatar
30 votes
4 answers
10k views

Can I use "US-American" to disambiguate "American"? If not, what can I use?

Based on this question, I wonder: as an alternative to USAian (which is very nonstandard) is it OK to use US-American to more clearly indicate "inhabitant of the USA"? According to Google Ngram, this ...
gerrit's user avatar
  • 2,253
27 votes
11 answers
30k views

How should "deceptively" actually be used?

I'm not sure if this is a duplicate question, but I couldn't find anything on here on the topic. I can't seem to figure out what is actually meant when using the word "deceptive," or rather, what is ...
DeVil's user avatar
  • 857
13 votes
3 answers
34k views

"the above" is correct, "the below" is not?

I have often read "None of the above" at the end of multiple-choice questions (and I guess this is shorthand for "None of the above items"). Recently, in answering a help center email with my answer ...
Ewan's user avatar
  • 143
11 votes
4 answers
31k 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,...
JDong's user avatar
  • 223
9 votes
3 answers
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 ...
utxeee's user avatar
  • 2,415
8 votes
2 answers
3k views

Adjective usage of 'mystic' vs 'mystical'

I have been checking the differences in dictionaries and forums and I cannot find any final conclusion. I get that: Mystic/Mystical are both valid adjectives Mystic is the only one that can be used ...
Fran Arjona's user avatar
5 votes
3 answers
6k 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?
Sankalp Sharma's user avatar
1 vote
4 answers
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 ...
pinguina's user avatar
55 votes
8 answers
10k 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 ...
NVZ's user avatar
  • 22.6k
51 votes
5 answers
15k views

Usage and origin of "sister" in expressions like "sister company, sister ship, sister site" etc

The term sister is often used figuratively to refer, for instance, to a “sister company” for a company within the same group, or to a “sister site” for sites that belong to the same family. This ...
user avatar
29 votes
8 answers
12k views

How common is "thrice"?

Our proofreader, a native speaker of American English, just won't let me use this word. Every single time I try to sneak it onto one of our sites, she replaces it with three times. Now, I do realize ...
RegDwigнt's user avatar
  • 97.2k
19 votes
12 answers
123k views

If a person holds prejudice against people because of their nationality, would that be considered racist?

Would it be considered racist if a store owner believes all Canadians are thieves and does not let any Canadians into his store? Racism pertains to discriminating based on race, and (correct me if I'm ...
Celeritas's user avatar
  • 2,908
11 votes
3 answers
79k views

Usage of "ain't"?

As far as I understand, "ain't" can mean either "isn't" (ain't no sunshine) or "hasn't" (you ain't seen nothing yet). Are there any rules when "ain't" is used? Does it have a different meaning than "...
M4N's user avatar
  • 211
9 votes
4 answers
9k 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 ...
Scott Mitchell's user avatar
6 votes
3 answers
668 views

History of "different from", "different to", "different than"

Somehow I got the impression that "different to" (almost entirely unknown in America) is a locution that originated in the 20th century, and that "different from" is far older. Then I found "different ...
Michael Hardy's user avatar
19 votes
5 answers
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 ...
NibblyPig's user avatar
  • 1,346
17 votes
9 answers
73k views

Word for when one uses the wrong word in a sentence

Specifically, I'm looking for the term for when a person uses a word correctly, but intends a different meaning. For example: I empathize with you. When the person really means: I sympathize ...
Doc's user avatar
  • 1,555
17 votes
5 answers
32k 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 ...
tylerharms's user avatar
  • 8,225
16 votes
3 answers
34k 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 ...
user76407's user avatar
  • 245
11 votes
4 answers
14k views

When can one omit "that" from a sentence?

In general, when can I omit that from a sentence? Can I omit that (emphasized) in sentence (2) below? We say that such algorithms handle concept drift and can learn from time-changing data ...
user12344567's user avatar
10 votes
4 answers
16k views

Is there any difference between "I'm sat" and "I'm sitting"?

In BrE, one can apparently use I'm sat here to mean I'm sitting here. This seems to be a relatively modern usage: I had originally thought that this was a regional or dialectical variant and had ...
terdon's user avatar
  • 21.4k
8 votes
5 answers
80k 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 ...
Bobson's user avatar
  • 792
7 votes
3 answers
6k views

Is there a term/word for using an incorrect homophone

What would you call the following: Speak now or forever hold your piece.
eebbesen's user avatar
  • 183
5 votes
2 answers
4k views

Leave something vs. forget something

Can you forget something somewhere? I expect that much more common is I have left my book at home. But, based on other languages where it is quite common (and based on the fact that I somehow ...
Honza Zidek's user avatar
  • 4,017
0 votes
1 answer
3k views

Show I use "lay," "laid," or "lain" in the following passage? [closed]

The ground was ice-cold, no hint of anyone having lay/laid/lain there at all. Which one is the correct option?
wyc's user avatar
  • 13.2k
63 votes
2 answers
716k views

"provide" vs. "provide with"

I am wondering if the following sentence is correct: We add the information their study provides with to our article. The context is: their study provides with some information. And we add the ...
SoftTimur's user avatar
  • 895
43 votes
2 answers
347k 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.
Chairman Meow's user avatar
32 votes
7 answers
6k views

What makes "like" and "so" popular?

So, I was like, why does everyone say like and so in every sentence? Where did this trend come from, like, what started it, and is it actually grammatically correct to like, insert like into our ...
Thursagen's user avatar
  • 41.8k
16 votes
2 answers
2k views

How (and when) was it that the verb 'go' began to mean 'say' in common usage?

i.e. "So then she goes, 'Hey!' and I go, 'What?' because I was on my way out..." I was musing about this the other day, so I decided to try to find out. Unfortunately, my skills lie in different ...
atroon's user avatar
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