All Questions

23
votes
4answers
8k views

Are split infinitives grammatically incorrect, or are they valid constructs?

Mark's generosity in this crisis seems to more than make up for his earlier stinginess. Should those sentences always be avoided, or are there cases where they are valid?
281
votes
1answer
361k views

When should I use an em-dash, an en-dash, and a hyphen?

I generally know how to use a hyphen, but when should I use an en-dash instead of an em-dash, or when should I use a hyphen instead of an em-dash?
6
votes
1answer
614 views

When did modern punctuation emerge?

Medieval punctuation was different from the one we use now; for example, Medieval punctuation included punctus, punctus versus, and punctus flexus. When did their equivalent in modern English ...
68
votes
2answers
1.3m 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 ...
18
votes
3answers
1k views

Why is “definitely” so frequently typoed?

Definitely seems to be one of the most frequently typoed words in written English on the Internet, enough to bring somebody to create d-e-f-i-n-i-t-e-l-y.com. Simon Google says, in a completely ...
3
votes
3answers
8k views

Why do you write “occurred” but “listened”?

The past tense of to occur is occurred (not occured), but the past tense of to listen is listened (not listenned). Why? What is the general rule that is applied to make the past tense of a verb?
4
votes
3answers
517 views

Should we use past tense in “Lugo admitted he is the father”?

In this sentence, should the is be a was? On April 13, 2009, Lugo admitted he is the father of a child conceived with Viviana Carrillo.
9
votes
2answers
4k views

Whatever happened to “what ever” and whenever did it happen?

I am curious to know when whatever, whenever, wherever and whoever first started being used as interrogative words. Merriam-Webster, etymonline and dictionary.com offer no hints. Wikipedia doesn't ...
5
votes
11answers
8k views

What's a word similar in usage to “diatribe,” but not as harsh?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a diatribe is defined as a forceful and bitter verbal attack against someone or something. I had previously understood it to mean something more along the ...
26
votes
5answers
9k views

Why do we use the object instead of the subject pronoun in constructions like “stupid me”?

I'm trying to find out how come we say lucky me and stupid us rather than lucky I and stupid we. My understanding is that this is not a recent invention, but a relic from the distant past where it was ...
18
votes
13answers
36k views

Why are movies so hard to understand (and what can you do about it)?

I have been learning English for many, many years now and think I have acquired quite some mastery. Yesterday I saw just another English (American) flick and thought it was a different language, but ...
5
votes
2answers
15k views

When should I use “is” and when should I use “are”?

I always mixed them up, and use the wrong one on other sites on StackExchange. And the questions is edited by another person. When should I use "is" and when should I use "are"? Sometimes I write "...
10
votes
7answers
507 views

Is the word “yearling” appropriate for a recurring event?

The Stack Overflow / Stack Exchange sites all have a "yearling" badge. Active member for a year, earning at least 200 reputation. This badge can be awarded multiple times. So each year, if the ...
2
votes
2answers
101k views

“Will discuss the matter” vs. “will discuss on this matter”

I received an email with the following sentence: The meetings will be discussing on this early next week. I have two questions: Should we use will discuss rather than will be discussing? I don't ...
11
votes
5answers
12k views

When do I have to use 'will' instead of 'going to'?

Does going to only express an intention and will some kind of prediction that doesn't necessarily happen? EDIT: Thanks for all your answers. I asked this question because I always fail to complete ...
60
votes
7answers
30k views

Are there any simple rules for choosing the definite vs. indefinite (vs. none) article?

I can’t for the life of me figure out where to use a and where to use the — and where there is no article at all. Is there a simple rule of thumb to memorize? The standard rule you always hear: “...
8
votes
4answers
7k views

“So long as” vs. “as long as”

Which phrase is more formal — "so long as" or "as long as"? Example: So long as Google Voice allows free long distance in North America, I will use it. As long as Google Voice allows free ...
12
votes
5answers
13k views

“high rate of speed” or “high speed” to mean going fast

Why do reporters (and sometimes police officers) say that somebody was going at a high rate of speed when they actually mean high speed? In physics, speed is already the rate of distance over time, ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

What does the phrase “on to” mean?

The following sentence is the context. Accordingly, in the next few chapters, which deal specifically with the tags, we’ll spend a lot more time on the OGNL expression language. On to chapter 6! ...
21
votes
8answers
84k views

Do “in future” and “in the future” imply different meanings?

Do in future and in the future imply different meanings? If so, using which one is grammatically correct?
20
votes
1answer
21k views

Logging in or on?

There are a plethora of words for user accounts, like logon, login, signon, and also the action of logging in (or logging on) or signing in. Are there any usage guidelines here?
35
votes
16answers
12k views

Words with opposite meanings in different regions

I can't recall it, but there is a word in American English which now means the opposite of itself in British English. What words are there that have opposite (not just different) meanings in different ...
6
votes
3answers
5k views

What is the story behind the word “hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia”?

Was someone just trying to be funny by being ironic?
16
votes
4answers
2k views

If I invent a word, what language is it?

I invented a word using medical terminology, Latin and maybe a bit of Greek. (I'm not honestly sure of the etymology of all the morphemes.) Considering that this word is primarily not of English ...
4
votes
1answer
4k views

What does the phrase “Go Tiger!” mean?

I am learning the Java struts 2 by reading a book titled "struts 2 in action" and I encountered the phrase "Go Tiger!". I can't figure out what it means; can anybody give me the answer? If you have ...
3
votes
6answers
3k views

Is “facebook” as a verb different from “google” or “photoshop”?

I understand that any term, grammatical or not, becomes valid if there is common usage. I'm not concerned about that. Google and Photoshop are both commonly used as verbs. Given that the terms map ...
3
votes
4answers
2k views

In a project, what is the relationship between dependent tasks called?

If I have two tasks, called "Design" and "Development", what are the relationships between the two called? Clearly, this is a type of dependency, but I need to be more specific. That is, I need to ...
12
votes
8answers
5k views

Identifying British accents

Are there rules of thumb for pinpointing British accents regionally? What other accents do Americans tend to mistake for British? Are there good online resources that can help with this? Audio samples ...
12
votes
2answers
2k views

Rhyming conventions of Early Modern English

I was reading the poem "To His Coy Mistress" by Andrew Marvell when something struck me as odd. Let me quote two passages: Thou by the Indian Ganges' side Shouldst rubies find: I by the tide Of ...
7
votes
5answers
11k views

Word meaning the reverse of 'Xenophobia'

Xenophobia refers to the irrational fear or hatred of foreigners. But recently I've seen people displaying (in newspaper articles and other places) an irrational fear or hatred of their own countrymen....
3
votes
2answers
1k views

“Pardon me French”

Even though the phrase pardon my French is used much more often, I do constantly run across pardon me French as well. What's the deal with that? Wikipedia does have an entry on Pardon my French, but ...
5
votes
5answers
14k views

What's the difference between “regime” and “regimen”

The title says it all, really.
26
votes
7answers
73k views

When is it appropriate to use “Yeah” and “Yep” as variants of the word “Yes”?

As a learner of English I know that yes is a standard variant and other two are informal, spoken words. I know nothing more about it, and try always use the yes variant, just not to sound ...
1
vote
1answer
342 views

Question about proper use of “pedantic”

Would the following sentences be correct? You were more concerned with being pedantic. I felt you were being pedantic. You wanted to have a pedantic conversation.
4
votes
3answers
13k views

What is wrong with “I don’t like these kind of things”?

The New Oxford American Dictionary has the following note for kind. (Notice the sentence I highlighted.) The plural of kind often causes difficulty. With this or that, speaking of one kind, use a ...
2
votes
3answers
19k views

“The Midwest of the U.S.”

The New Oxford American Dictionary reports the following definition for Middle America: Middle America |ˈˌmɪdl əˈmɛrəkə| noun 1 the middle class in the U.S., esp. when regarded as a ...
3
votes
3answers
4k views

“There do not appear to be any comments to delete.”

In a CMS I am using, when a user with the right permission tries to delete a comment that is not found, the CMS outputs the following warning message: There do not appear to be any comments to ...
51
votes
4answers
110k views

“There are no comments” vs. “There is no comment”

Which is correct? There are no comments. There is no comment. Which would you use for a web application, i.e. what to display when a blog post or an article has no comment attached? Actually, ...
99
votes
14answers
79k 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 ...
11
votes
4answers
5k views

Are the acronyms FYI, BTW, LOL, WTF now considered “normal” words?

Are these "words" moving out of the elitist slang stage and into popular usage? It is hard for me to tell, because in the techie culture I work in they are ubiquitous. However, I've tried them out ...
6
votes
5answers
22k views

What is a West Coast (U.S.) accent?

I've seen references to the American Midwest as being the home of the least accented form of American English. I always think of the Northern Midwest as having an accent that I associate with ...
15
votes
5answers
46k views

Is there a 1950's American accent?

Listening to old recordings, there is a distinct accent that radio and television announcers used that is different from a modern-day "Standard American" or neutral accent. It seems that over the ...
1
vote
4answers
1k views

Is it correct to speak of New York dialect?

Is it correct to speak of New York dialect, or should I use a different term when referring to the particular pronunciation used in New York?
4
votes
3answers
985 views

Questions containing “or”

Do you prefer to stay home, or do you want to come with us? Should I prepare dinner, or are we going to go to the restaurant? Are the questions correctly written? Is there a preferred way to write ...
7
votes
2answers
2k views

Is there a difference between the pronunciation of a teenager, and the pronunciation of an adult?

In my travels in the USA (on Long Island), I noted that the pronunciation used by a teenager sounds different from the pronunciation used by an adult. Does such difference exist, or is it just my ...
13
votes
5answers
14k views

Where is standard American English derived from?

I have a book that explains how to speak in standard American English (American Accent Training — Barron's). What does the term standard American English refer to? Is there a region in the United ...
77
votes
9answers
297k 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 ...
15
votes
5answers
6k views

Please explain “I Am America (And So Can You!)”

As a non-native speaker, I found Stephen Colbert’s book title I Am America (And So Can You!) a little hard to dissect. Why so can you? Why isn’t it So Are You? What’s the full phrase that And So Can ...
13
votes
6answers
2k views

“Literally” and “Decimate” misuse

Recently I've heard American TV commentators say "[a person] was literally decimated" and "[a Senator] was literally thrown under the bus". In the first case I think the person was not actually 10% ...
1
vote
2answers
704 views

Adjectives and nouns: which modifier should be written first?

If I am writing a sentence where both a noun and an adjective are used as modifiers, shall I write first the adjective, or the noun? It's a nice C code snippet. (?) It's a C nice code snippet. ...

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