All Questions

30
votes
2answers
17k views

When do you use “learnt” and when “learned”?

Is learnt UK English and learned US? Is it that simple? I’m used to using learnt, but my US spellchecker says it is wrong.
2
votes
3answers
4k views

Is “grounds” (as in a chunk of land) singular or plural?

Am I correct that grounds, although sounding plural, is actually singular? More specifically, which is better: I view Fedora as a testing grounds for new ideas. or I view Fedora as testing ...
14
votes
1answer
2k views

“A” vs. “An” in writing vs. pronunciation

When starting a word with a vowel, the preceding "a" becomes an "an". I often find that when writing words that start with letter "N" or "M", I will pronounce them "EN", "EM", etc. (This is because in ...
10
votes
2answers
12k views

Position of question mark when sentence doesn't end with question

This is something that has always bugged me. I am never sure where to place the question mark, or whether to place it at all when the end of the sentence does not finish with a question, or a number ...
3
votes
2answers
6k views

Does one stand by or at the bar?

When you are in the pub, ordering a drink from a bartender, which of the following is the correct way to say it? When both of you're stand by the bar ordering a drink, and a bartender asks to ...
6
votes
2answers
24k views

“bibs and bobs” - what does it mean and where does it come from?

Just exactly what is a bibs and a bobs? And where the heck did that expression come from, anyway?
8
votes
3answers
47k views

Can I say “Please find my yesterday’s and today’s daily reports in the documents.”

Can I say "Please find my yesterday’s and today’s daily reports in the documents."?
3
votes
2answers
2k views

Can “advise” be used with the definition of “advice”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “Advise” vs “advice” I've seen twice in in 30 minutes how someone had said that they wanted advise on [...] subject, or how they needed advise on [...]....
2
votes
1answer
2k views

Common Literary Techniques for Drama Texts?

Right now we're studying a piece on drama (Disclosure: This is for school, but not necessarily for an essay or homework - It's just further study on other literary techniques that are used within ...
17
votes
6answers
217k 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.
1
vote
2answers
3k views

Use of the word “that”: [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Are there rules about using “that” to join two clauses? In the following, does the word "that" belong? "He said that we should go fishing."
8
votes
2answers
3k views

Where does “Let's roll!” come from?

Where does the idiom "Let's roll!" come from?
6
votes
2answers
15k views

Is it correct to use “all this” instead of “all of this”?

I frequently see people write "all this", instead of "all of this". Is this a grammatically correct phrase? My intuition tells me that it's wrong (the spoken phrase "all this" is really a contraction ...
10
votes
3answers
14k views

What is the etymology of the word “spell” when used to mean a short period of time?

Every now and then - usually when talking with an older individual or someone from the United States Midwest or South - I hear the word "spell" used to mean a short period of time, such as: "Come sit ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

The children are creating

In the lyrics of Friends Will Be Friends by Queen: Another red letter day So the pound has dropped and the children are creating. What does the phrase highlighted in bold mean?
2
votes
4answers
679 views

Double negation

How should I interpret the following lyric from America: we ain't had no time to drink that beer?
8
votes
7answers
9k views

Using or arguing a biased opinion as fact

I'm fairly sure there is a word or phrase to describe arguing emotively from an extreme, or biased, point of view as if your view is fact, but I can't remember what it may be. (I am wanting to use ...
19
votes
2answers
6k views

What does this joke about milk going bad mean?

This is a joke from the TV series "Friends". — Can I borrow this? My milk's gone bad. — I hate that. I once had a thing of half-and-half. Stole my car. I'm thinking that it has something to do ...
59
votes
15answers
6k views

If an insertion in parentheses ends with a smiley, how do I distinguish between the two?

I know smileys are not part of written language (yet), and any questions about them are irrelevant to linguistics and are kind of not serious. So take my question with a smiley then. It bugs me ...
23
votes
2answers
1k views

Marking plural of code words

In my blog (which is about programming) I often use reserved words from different programming languages. Like this: When column is nullable in both tables, this query won't return a match of two ...
6
votes
8answers
10k views

end-to-end alternatives

I just received an email that included the phrase soup-to-nuts meaning "end-to-end." Are there any other alternatives to this? eg cradle-to-grave? I want to include some in the reply email.
6
votes
1answer
4k views

A colon after “following”

When I reference to the next sentence or sentences using the term following, is the preferred way to use a colon or a full stop? An example: Consider the sentence 'I wash the clothes'. Replacing ...
8
votes
3answers
8k views

Should contractions be avoided in formal emails?

In a formal email of the kind where you begin with "Dear Mr. Surname" and finish with "Best regards", for example, should we use the following contractions? Or are the non contracted forms more ...
46
votes
4answers
773k views

When is it necessary to use “have had”?

I have read few sentences which has "have had". I would like to know in what kind of situations we will have to use this?
7
votes
1answer
540 views

What does “blow a dismount” mean?

I heard it in a recent TV episode. Someone walks with a limp (probably a ruptured Achilles' heel), and the doctor mentions that he had the accident “blowing a dismount on a keg stand”.
6
votes
2answers
1k views

Why is there so much diversity in how English nouns are pluralized?

Where did English get all its plural forms? Why are there so many nouns that are outside the rules? Most nouns get an "s" when pluralized: Pass me a cup. The store has a sale on cups! Some nouns ...
17
votes
5answers
21k 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 ...
8
votes
4answers
8k views

“Just” versus “simply”

To which extent is just interchangeable with simply, as in the example? It's becoming more than just annoying. It's becoming more than simply annoying. Is just synonym of simply in just any case ...
30
votes
5answers
191k views

What is the difference between “Have you seen this?” and “Did you see this?”

What's the difference between these two phrases?
15
votes
2answers
177k views

“all of you” vs “you all”

All of you are sitting here with me in my den vs. You all are sitting here with me in my den And a general form: you all vs. all of you Which is the proper usage?
3
votes
2answers
1k views

How to express a group suggestion? “I would like for us all to …”

I am writing an email to my work colleagues regarding a current project. I am the lead for the project, and also one of the workers. I want to describe an activity that I think the whole group should ...
10
votes
5answers
28k views

What does the word “rich” mean in the reactionary sarcastic phrase “That's rich!”?

What does the word "rich" mean in the reactionary sarcastic phrase "That's rich!" (Google shows 67M hits). I take it to mean "rich" as in "rich in irony". What it is the source of the phrase and how ...
2
votes
1answer
352 views

Verb agreement in the sentence

I suspect my verbs do NOT agree =) In the following sentence, I'm trying to say that I've asked this girl out for drinks in the past. However, every time I'd ask, she would agree at first and later ...
9
votes
3answers
5k views

History: Relationship between happy and lucky

Why are the words happy and lucky so closely related, historically? Looking at the etymology, the hap in happy is the same as in happenstance, happen, hapless, etc. The etymology, according to ...
4
votes
1answer
3k views

Comparative and superlative adverbs?

I'm a native speaker of English, and I don't know how many times I've wanted to say "happilier" instead of "more happily", or "happiliest" instead of "most happily". Is there any record of such ...
4
votes
4answers
2k views

A word for the meaning of “over-constrained”

I want to express that I constrained something too much such that it is contradictory now. At first sight, over-constrained seems to fit, but I am not sure whether it is fine to use in a scientific ...
13
votes
4answers
88k views

Comma in compound/complex sentences

Is there a rule, which states that one must or must not use comma before "then" in a sentence like this: If you can read this, then you might want to answer this question.
6
votes
5answers
1k views

How can I deliver the meaning of “within a specified range”?

I am writing a manual for user to use a web application. One of the function requires user to key in the date, and then the number of weeks before that date, the number of weeks needs to be smaller ...
63
votes
8answers
8k 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?
24
votes
4answers
85k views

Is the word “wotcher” British slang? What does it mean?

I was reading a Harry Potter book the other day and one of the characters, Nymphadora Tonks, greets Harry by saying "Wotcher, Harry". What is "Wotcher"?
20
votes
3answers
84k views

Why is “guinea pig” used as the colloquial term for test subjects?

Why do we refer to people as guinea pigs when discussing the subjects of an informal experiment? Surely mice, rabbits and rats are much more common experimental subjects. Indeed, it's rare that you'll ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

Where can I find a list of ways to get rid of the preposition “of”?

I'm learning English. Unfortunately I have some obstacles in writing and speaking. In particular I often note that there are too many "of"-s in my sentences. For instance I want to get rid of them in ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

When can a redundant “respectively” be dropped?

Over the years I've stuck fast to a possibly self-invented rule that enumerating pairs of things in an out-of-order fashion requires a "respectively": …where x, y, and z are "ecks", "why", and "zed"...
6
votes
7answers
7k views

Is the phrase “Like many another” correct in standard English?

I've come across "like many another" in a GMAT question. Its use is similar to "Like many other" e.g. "Like many another in his class, John is thirteen years old." It has 1M hits in google (compare ...
6
votes
1answer
904 views

Correct Usage of Capital Letters

Suppose there is a Department of English (note: the name is not English Department) at Abc University. I want to know the correct use of capital letters in these sentences: The Department of ...
35
votes
7answers
98k views

“Focussed” or “focused”? Rules for doubling the last consonant when adding -ed

Initially, my question was: is "focussed" or "focused" the correct past tense of "focus", but since this applies to a lot of words, I would like to generalize and ask: is there supposed to be a rule ...
1
vote
1answer
3k views

“the best you could say” vs “the best you can say”

One want to ask a question in regard to a person's suggestion to contribute: Tina: "You should get laid more than once a year" Tom: "the best you could say? should I use can or could?
9
votes
2answers
8k views

Using “who” for things (nonliving beings)

On an online typing tutor site I came across the following phrase: We're now going to move on to words who's first letter originates on the top row. Can "who" normally be used in this way (to ...
11
votes
2answers
47k views

Is there a comparative form of “well”?

Is there a word that means "more well", in the same way that "better" means "more good"? In common parlance most people just use "better" for this purpose, but this sounds wrong and is a nagging ...
17
votes
2answers
25k views

Where does “Santa” in Santa Claus come from?

Santa Claus is a man, right? In this case, he may not be fine with the fact that people call him Santa, which is the Spanish and Portuguese word for female saint names. For example, Santa Barbara and ...

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