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628 votes
20 answers

How do you quote a passage that has used '[sic]' mistakenly?

The usage of '[sic]' is well defined for quoting a passage that you believe has an error in it: nearest to the mistake you place '[sic]' within the quotes. For example, suppose I write a letter from I ...
Mitch's user avatar
  • 71.8k
474 votes
6 answers

Did English ever have a formal version of "you"?

Off the top of my head, Danish "De" (practically never used), German "Sie", Chinese "您", French "vous", Spanish "usted" are formal ways of addressing ...
Carlos's user avatar
  • 5,925
424 votes
17 answers

Which word begins with "y" and looks like an axe in this picture?

My 1-year kid has a plastic ball that is decorated with all 26 letters from the English alphabet and besides each letter is an image. I suppose the images are of words in English that begin with each ...
gmauch's user avatar
  • 2,917
372 votes
22 answers

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 ...
Nulldevice's user avatar
  • 3,887
316 votes
1 answer

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 (—)?
apaderno's user avatar
  • 59.4k
308 votes
10 answers

What is the correct way to pluralize an acronym / initialism?

For example, if I wanted to write the equivalent of There are many automated teller machines in this city. Would it be There are many ATMs in this city. or There are many ATM's in this city. (...
JohnFx's user avatar
  • 7,494
303 votes
6 answers

What is the rule for adjective order?

I remember being taught that the correct order of adjectives in English was something along the lines of "Opinion-Size-Age-Color-Material-Purpose." However, it's been a long time and I'm pretty sure ...
RegDwigнt's user avatar
  • 97.5k
294 votes
41 answers

Is there a phrase that means sleeping with someone without sex?

The phrase "sleeping with someone" often means "having sex." What is the origin of this sexual connotation? Is there a non-sexual equivalent of this phrase to express sleeping with someone without ...
284 votes
16 answers

How many spaces should come after a period/full stop?

In the past — or at least, when I was in elementary school — periods/full stops were followed by two spaces. Lately, it's become more and more common to see just one space. In the modern ...
Pops's user avatar
  • 5,985
272 votes
11 answers

Is there a word or phrase for the feeling you get after looking at a word for too long?

Sometimes after looking at a word for a while, I become convinced that it can't possibly be spelled correctly. Even after looking it up, sounding it out, and realizing that there's simply no other ...
J.T. Grimes's user avatar
  • 6,855
266 votes
7 answers

How are "i.e." and "e.g." pronounced?

How are i.e. and e.g. pronounced?
Lenik's user avatar
  • 5,155
263 votes
10 answers

Do you use "a" or "an" before acronyms / initialisms?

99% of the time, I'm clear on when I should use "a" versus "an." There's one case, though, where people & references I respect disagree. Which of the following would you precede with "a" or "an," ...
Dori's user avatar
  • 3,966
259 votes
7 answers

What is the plural form of "status"?

What is the plural form of "status"?
Am1rr3zA's user avatar
  • 2,785
244 votes
11 answers

What is the factual basis for "pirate speech"? (Did pirates really say things like "shiver me timbers"?)

The "pirate speech" we hear/see/read, for example, on the website Talk Like A Pirate Day consists of a rhotic dialect characterized by phrases like "shiver me timbers," "ooh arh me hearties," and so ...
user avatar
239 votes
5 answers

"log in to" or "log into" or "login to"

When writing an instruction about connecting to a computer using ssh, telnet, etc., I'm not sure what spacing to use in this familiar spoken phrase: "Log in to" "Log into" "Login to ...
John Siracusa's user avatar
232 votes
13 answers

Which words in a title should be capitalized?

Are there any concrete rules that say which words (parts of speech) in a title should start with a capital letter? What would be a correct capitalization for the title of this question?
serg's user avatar
  • 5,101
229 votes
21 answers

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 ...
Mitch's user avatar
  • 71.8k
218 votes
7 answers

When "etc." is at the end of a phrase, do you place a period after it?

Example: It's all about apples, oranges, bananas, etc. VS. It's all about apples, oranges, bananas, etc.. Update What happens if the abbreviation is inside parentheses, do you place a dot ...
Shimmy Weitzhandler's user avatar
213 votes
5 answers

Are "whores" and "horse" homophones?

I’m Spanish but sometimes see TV shows in English. My question is whether the words horse and whores sound exactly the same, because in many English language TV shows it seems like they are, which ...
Jose Javier Garcia's user avatar
210 votes
12 answers

"Unregister" vs "Deregister"

The concept of "undoing a registration" is widely used in my line of work. While most dictionaries define unregister as the proper verb for it, several widely used and highly considered sources also ...
Laurent Pireyn's user avatar
206 votes
15 answers

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). ...
alf's user avatar
  • 2,171
205 votes
1 answer

What's the difference between "requester" and "requestor"?

Both are in dictionaries. I've heard people insist "requester" is correct for a person who requests something, and that "requestor" is wrong there, leaving me to wonder how it is ...
aedia λ's user avatar
  • 10.7k
189 votes
15 answers

Do most languages need more space than English?

I saw the following statement on User Experience: Supporting multiple languages can break the user interface, because most languages need more space than english This seems to be a gross ...
Antony Quinn's user avatar
  • 5,233
187 votes
7 answers

How do the tens­es and as­pects in English cor­re­spond tem­po­ral­ly to one an­oth­er?

Non-na­tive speak­ers of­ten get con­fused about what the var­i­ous tens­es and as­pects mean in English. With in­put from some of the folk here I've put to­geth­er a di­a­gram that I hope will pro­...
Robusto's user avatar
  • 152k
187 votes
10 answers

"Status" vs. "state"

Can anyone explain what the difference between status and state is when I talk about the condition or situation of an object? Here's what I got from Longman English Dictionary. status: a situation ...
Raymond's user avatar
  • 1,973
187 votes
6 answers

What is the origin of ZOMG?

I have looked in a number of places, with contradictory results. The Urban Dictionary provides a whopping 73 "explanations", of which I will quote just a few. (Original spelling and punctuation ...
RegDwigнt's user avatar
  • 97.5k
185 votes
3 answers

Where were "should", "shall", and "must" in the 18th Century?

According to the following Google Ngram, in the U.K. the modals should, shall, and must were virtually missing from English writing during the 18th Century (I've added will for a comparison modal ...
Peter Shor 's user avatar
182 votes
12 answers

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?
KV Prajapati's user avatar
  • 2,051
180 votes
7 answers

What the #$@&%*! is that called?

Is there a name for the use of symbols in place of curse words, for example #$@&%*!?
LarsTech's user avatar
  • 2,873
174 votes
2 answers

Is it "a user" or "an user"? [duplicate]

Since "user" starts with a vowel, shouldn't we use "an"? I've seen many cases of using "a".
William shekspeare's user avatar
174 votes
3 answers

"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 ...
ntoskrnl's user avatar
  • 1,843
173 votes
7 answers

Is it "front-end", "frontend", or "front end"?

Which is correct? front-end engineering frontend engineering front end engineering I looked over, referenced in this answer, and I'm still not sure ...
Mike M. Lin's user avatar
  • 1,865
172 votes
4 answers

What is the plural form of "zero"?

I tried looking on Google, but there are some fairly contradictory results. I thought I'd ask you guys so we could get an authoritative answer on the subject!
Doctor Jones's user avatar
  • 1,841
170 votes
12 answers

When is it appropriate to end a sentence in a preposition?

Like many others, I commonly find myself ending a sentence with a preposition. Yes, it makes me cringe. I usually rewrite the sentence, but sometimes (in emails) I just live with it. To, with... ...
Brian Kelly's user avatar
  • 1,835
166 votes
4 answers

"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 ...
Mysterion's user avatar
  • 7,348
163 votes
10 answers

Should I always use a comma after "e.g." or "i.e."?

It seems that "e.g." is always followed by a comma but "i.e." is not. Why is that?
evergreen's user avatar
  • 3,325
163 votes
7 answers

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
161 votes
8 answers

"Username", "user name" or "user-name"

In computer science, you should have a username or a user name or a user-name and a password to be able to log into the system. Which one is the correct spelling?
Saeed Neamati's user avatar
159 votes
16 answers

Should I put a comma before the last item in a list?

Should I put a comma before the last item in a list? I would like crackers, cheese and some soda. I would like crackers, cheese, and some soda.
Chris's user avatar
  • 12.4k
158 votes
6 answers

"My wife and I's seafood collaboration dinner"

I just stumbled upon a Reddit post titled: My wife and I's seafood collaboration dinner. How does it look? Sure enough, the top comment immediately points out that it should be "my wife's and my". ...
RegDwigнt's user avatar
  • 97.5k
157 votes
2 answers

Why are the vowels in Christ and Christmas different? (and other strange diphthong behaviour)

Why are certain words pronounced with diphthongs on their own but with monophthongs in compounds? For example: Words pronounced with diphthongs on their own: Michael, Christ, wise, drive Their ...
Vun-Hugh Vaw's user avatar
  • 5,401
157 votes
4 answers

"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"?
Muhammad Hasan Khan's user avatar
156 votes
10 answers

What’s the rule for using “who” and “whom” correctly?

I can never figure out whether I should use who and whom. Most people use who for both colloquially, but some people say this is not correct. What’s the rule for using who and whom correctly?
mouche's user avatar
  • 2,112
156 votes
12 answers

What do you call a disk with a hole in the middle?

Compact Discs, washers and Aerobie frisbees are all disks with a hole in the middle. Is there a word (either mathematical or not) to describe this shape? I mean the specific case of a round hole in a ...
Fillet's user avatar
  • 1,732
156 votes
6 answers

Why is “cannot” spelled as one word?

Why is “cannot” spelled as one word whereas other similar constructions such as “do not,” “will not,” “shall not,” “may not” and “must not” are spelled as two words (unless they are contracted as “don’...
Tsuyoshi Ito's user avatar
  • 6,399
150 votes
11 answers

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?
Nobody's user avatar
  • 1,609
150 votes
14 answers

Why do English writers avoid explicit numerals?

The junction has a stop sign on each of the four entrances. The junction has a stop sign on each of the 4 entrances. The first is preferred, for some reason, by many English texts. Why? I haven't ...
Pavel Radzivilovsky's user avatar
147 votes
8 answers

Plurals of acronyms, letters, numbers — use an apostrophe or not?

When I was in high school back in the 1970s, I was taught that to make a plural of an acronym, a letter, or a number, one should add an apostrophe and "s". Like I would have written this sentence, "......
Jay's user avatar
  • 36.7k
145 votes
17 answers

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 ...
Caleb Hearth's user avatar
  • 5,000
145 votes
3 answers

Why does "quadratic" describe second power when "quad" means "four"?

In mathematics, quadratic means "involving the second and no higher power of an unknown quantity or variable". But the prefix quad- usually describes something that has to do with four, such as quad-...
Dapeng Gao's user avatar
  • 1,655

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