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627 votes
20 answers
53k views

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
  • 70.8k
438 votes
6 answers
155k views

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

From the top of my head, Danish "De" (practically never used), German "Sie", Chinese "您", French "vous", Spanish "usted" are a formal way of addressing someone, especially if one isn't familiar with ...
Carlos's user avatar
  • 5,519
424 votes
17 answers
117k views

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
374 votes
22 answers
132k views

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
  • 3,907
315 votes
1 answer
388k 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 (—)?
apaderno's user avatar
  • 58.9k
307 votes
10 answers
227k views

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
  • 7,434
300 votes
6 answers
143k views

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
  • 97.1k
293 votes
41 answers
146k views

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
58k views

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
  • 5,967
270 votes
11 answers
107k views

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
  • 6,813
266 votes
7 answers
107k views

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

How are i.e. and e.g. pronounced?
Lenik's user avatar
  • 5,145
258 votes
10 answers
252k views

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
  • 3,906
250 votes
7 answers
410k views

What is the plural form of "status"?

What is the plural form of "status"?
Am1rr3zA's user avatar
  • 2,695
243 votes
11 answers
19k views

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
233 votes
5 answers
575k views

"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 host.com" "Log into host.com" "Login to ...
John Siracusa's user avatar
231 votes
13 answers
496k views

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
  • 5,073
226 votes
21 answers
231k views

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
  • 70.8k
218 votes
7 answers
474k views

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
210 votes
5 answers
31k views

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
207 votes
12 answers
218k views

"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
205 votes
1 answer
666k views

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
203 votes
15 answers
162k 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). ...
alf's user avatar
  • 2,141
189 votes
15 answers
46k views

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
  • 5,205
187 votes
6 answers
35k views

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
  • 97.1k
186 votes
7 answers
78k views

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
  • 151k
185 votes
3 answers
9k views

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
181 votes
12 answers
1.0m views

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
  • 2,041
180 votes
10 answers
198k views

"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
  • 1,903
179 votes
7 answers
304k views

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
  • 2,865
172 votes
3 answers
594k views

"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
  • 1,823
171 votes
4 answers
226k views

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
  • 1,831
170 votes
2 answers
310k views

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
170 votes
6 answers
165k views

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

Which is correct? front-end engineering frontend engineering front end engineering I looked over http://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/hyphens.asp, referenced in this answer, and I'm still not sure ...
Mike M. Lin's user avatar
  • 1,835
168 votes
12 answers
44k views

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
  • 1,815
166 votes
4 answers
848k views

"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
  • 7,288
160 votes
8 answers
105k views

"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
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
160 votes
16 answers
445k views

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
413k views

"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
  • 97.1k
157 votes
2 answers
13k views

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
  • 5,391
157 votes
4 answers
247k views

"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
56k views

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
  • 2,102
156 votes
10 answers
298k views

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
  • 3,245
156 votes
12 answers
36k views

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
36k views

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
  • 6,339
150 votes
14 answers
10k views

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
148 votes
11 answers
272k views

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
  • 1,589
147 votes
8 answers
286k views

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
  • 36k
145 votes
3 answers
28k views

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
144 votes
14 answers
20k views

When to use “that” and when to use “which”, especially in relative clauses

When is it appropriate to use that as opposed to which with relative clauses?
Caleb Hearth's user avatar
  • 4,980

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