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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10 votes
4 answers
4k views

Is this noun used as an adjective?

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 ...
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  • 637
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
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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34 votes
5 answers
30k 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 ...
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150 votes
7 answers
22k 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 ...
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7 votes
4 answers
23k 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 ...
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  • 5,015
36 votes
6 answers
70k 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 . ....
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  • 1,665
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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21 votes
4 answers
408k 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 ...
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  • 527
33 votes
3 answers
136k 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 ...
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  • 2,624
19 votes
5 answers
59k 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 ...
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  • 331
31 votes
3 answers
66k 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 his usage spread beyond India? ...
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  • 1,176
29 votes
4 answers
9k 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 ...
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  • 2,143
27 votes
11 answers
28k 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 ...
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  • 857
8 votes
2 answers
1k 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 ...
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10 votes
4 answers
13k 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 ...
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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 ...
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  • 2,391
5 votes
4 answers
7k 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 ...
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13 votes
5 answers
687 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 ...
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  • 9,984
51 votes
5 answers
12k 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 ...
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29 votes
8 answers
11k 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 ...
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  • 95.6k
17 votes
9 answers
122k 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 ...
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  • 2,780
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 "...
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  • 211
11 votes
3 answers
32k 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 ...
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  • 123
7 votes
3 answers
5k views

Is there a term/word for using an incorrect homophone

What would you call the following: Speak now or forever hold your piece.
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  • 183
8 votes
5 answers
76k 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 ...
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  • 772
16 votes
5 answers
31k 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 ...
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  • 8,185
16 votes
9 answers
69k 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 ...
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  • 1,513
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 ...
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  • 3,953
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?
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  • 13.1k
61 votes
2 answers
653k 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 ...
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  • 797
32 votes
7 answers
5k 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 ...
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  • 41.1k
13 votes
4 answers
4k views

Capitalization of the word universe

Playing around with Google's Ngram viewer, where you can see how many times a word is used in books, I stumbled on this: It shows how often universe and Universe have been used in books. I think it'...
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10 votes
7 answers
44k views

What's an easy way to remember when to use "affect" or "effect"? [duplicate]

Is there an easy way to remember when to use the word affect or effect in a sentence? It is very confusing, and I still get them mixed up.
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12 votes
2 answers
352k views

When to use "respectively"? [duplicate]

I have been wondering what it means when people use "respectively" in, before, and after sentences. For example: We are looking for a babysitter to pick up and supervise our kids ages 6 and 3, ...
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  • 337
9 votes
7 answers
187k views

Understanding "as of", "as at", and "as from"

I'd appreciate your assistance in helping me particularly understand how to use the phrase "as of" properly. What is the proper interpretation of the following sentence? "I need you to get me all ...
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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 ...
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  • 269
4 votes
2 answers
916 views

usage of i.e in a sentence [closed]

My professor tells me that the word i.e should be written with a brace and quotations outside it For example: "(i.e)" is that the correct way?
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6 votes
5 answers
135k views

Correct use of will & would?

What would be the correct use of will & would in these sentences? 1) What will happen if I say to my boss that I will not come tomorrow? 2) What will happen if I would say to my boss that I will ...
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3 votes
2 answers
501 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 ...
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2 votes
1 answer
5k views

Placing however at the start of a sentence vs placing it in the middle of a sentence?

Basically, what's the difference between this: However, it didn't mean that I didn't have the potential to become a rock star. and this? It didn't mean, however, that I didn't have the ...
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  • 13.1k
15 votes
6 answers
11k views

When and how did "momentarily" come to mean "in a moment", rather than "for a moment"?

"Momentarily" used to mean "for a moment" only, and not "in a moment". Thus, newscasters could be divided into two clear groups: those who would say "we'll be back momentarily," and those who would ...
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  • 464
7 votes
4 answers
5k views

Why do some people say "the reason is is that," with "is" twice in a row?

Does anybody have any conjectures as to why this quirk is so common? For an example, see this TED talk by Kevin Slavin.
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  • 1,187
2 votes
2 answers
4k views

Is there a rule or pointer explaining where to put '_even'_ in a sentence?

You don't even have a chance. You don't have even a chance. You even don't have a chance. You had no chance. (where?)
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  • 71
199 votes
15 answers
157k views

What is wrong with the word "performant"?

I keep getting the red underlining in Word whenever I write the word "performant". Here I intend to refer to something that performs well or better than something else (i.e., it's more performant). ...
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  • 2,101
57 votes
4 answers
196k views

Why use the word "copy" in "do you copy that"?

I notice "do you copy that?" is used in movies to ask for confirmation in telephone/interphone conversation. I only know copy means make things duplicated, so why use it in "do you copy that"? Is ...
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50 votes
6 answers
127k views

Is "evidence" countable?

As a native English speaker, I am often asked by friends and colleagues to correct their manuscripts. One of the most common mistakes I find is the use of the noun evidences. Now, the dictionary ...
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  • 20.7k
15 votes
4 answers
259k views

So, "Some advice" or "some advices"? Which is correct?

"Some advice" or "some advices" as in "I got some advice / advices for you"? So, Which is correct? In Oxford Learner's Dictionaries, "advice" is uncountable noun, so "Some advice" is the correct one....
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  • 4,471
51 votes
7 answers
91k views

How long can you say "the late so and so"?

When you refer to the deceased, you say "the late so and so." How long can you say that? Is JFK referred to as the late John F. Kennedy? How about Abraham Lincoln?
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  • 2,307
35 votes
5 answers
32k views

"Specially" vs "especially"

When should I use specially and when especially?
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  • 2,791

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