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20 votes
2 answers
6k views

"did shoot" vs "shot"

This morning I read this sentence (see story): On July 24th and again on July 29th, Egyptian police did shoot dead unarmed African migrants attempting to cross that border. Why "did shoot" ...
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11 votes
2 answers
32k views

What alternative would you suggest to "in/with regard(s?) to"?

I see in many of the "corporate emails" I receive the expression: "in regard to". Sometimes, it is also written "in regards to". First, to be sure: "in regards to" (with an extra 's') is incorrect, ...
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  • 14.4k
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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  • 7,118
69 votes
9 answers
268k views

When do I use "I" instead of "me?"

From some comments in the answers for common English usage mistakes (now deleted, 10k only), there's confusion around the usage of I vs. me: While the sentence, "the other attendees are myself and ...
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  • 1,844
42 votes
2 answers
32k views

What does the phrase "Begging the question" mean?

What does the phrase "begging the question" really mean? And does it even matter if I use it correctly? Almost everyone just uses it as a synonym for "posing the question" these days.
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  • 53.6k
41 votes
11 answers
97k views

What is the most professional name for "squiggly bracket"?

I am creating a software training video and need to refer to these brackets: { } I usually call them "squiggly brackets" or "curly brackets". Is there a more professional name?
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9 votes
5 answers
2k views

Recommendations for non-native English speaking bloggers [closed]

What if someone who is not a native English speaker wants to write for a blog in English, but is not sure about the correctness of his writings? How could one ensure that the article won't annoy ...
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  • 9,973
36 votes
8 answers
635k views

Is it appropriate to use the salutation "Dear All" in a work email?

I have observed that in my work place, whenever a mail is sent to more than one person( like an information, meeting request or a notice etc.), the mail starts with the salutation "Dear All". This, ...
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  • 3,892
66 votes
4 answers
13k views

"Toward" or "towards"?

Which one should should I use? For some reason I have always used "towards", but I see some people saying "toward", like here: A great deal of his work in economic theory has been directed toward ...
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  • 1,407
44 votes
4 answers
19k views

Why does "orange" rhyme with (almost) nothing in English?

Joel Spolsky asked what rhymes with orange. The official answer is, "Nothing," although a creative poet can get close by using half words, just the -nge part or resorting to place names and foreign ...
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20 votes
5 answers
98k views

Which is correct: "standing on line" or "standing in line"?

I'm curious to hear from folks in the the Northeast United States (or anyone, really) an explanation of why "standing on line" seems preferable to "standing in line" in the US northeast. I imagine ...
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  • 3,366
65 votes
6 answers
169k views

What is the correct plural of "octopus"?

What is the correct plural of octopus: Octopi? Octopodes? Octopuses? Something else?
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  • 1,705
11 votes
3 answers
4k views

What is the correct way to write "God bless America"?

I've seen people write "God bless America", and it drives me nuts. Shouldn't it be "God, bless America"?
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17 votes
2 answers
37k views

Is there any difference between "color" and "colour"?

What is the difference between color and colour?
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  • 1,838
25 votes
17 answers
173k views

Shortest comprehensive sentence in English [closed]

What is the shortest comprehensive sentence in English?
35 votes
8 answers
276k views

What is the difference between "as per" and "according to"?

See the following two sentences. As per my knowledge it is right. According to my knowledge it is right. Are both the sentences right? What is the difference and use of "as per" and "according ...
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  • 1,838
19 votes
4 answers
28k views

Origin/reason for the expression "on the bus" instead of "in the bus"

This is sort of a follow up to my question here. I was told a while ago that the reason why we use "on the bus" instead of "in the bus" is because back in the day buses were open, that is, they didn'...
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  • 1,407
30 votes
2 answers
34k views

When should I use "in" or "on"?

As it is common with people from my country, I have an immense difficulty with prepositions in English, especially with the use of in and on. When the preposition indicates the position of the ...
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  • 1,407
5 votes
7 answers
4k views

Why do some people pedantically cling to dying word forms (e.g. die, oxen)?

The only times I have ever heard the word "die" to refer to one dice are from my mother, and from my primary school English teacher. Every person I ever hear always says, "give me a dice" if they want ...
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27 votes
4 answers
4k views

Why do written English vowels differ from other Latin-based orthographies?

Written English vowels differ from other Latin-based orthographies. Consider what the written vowels in the romance languages represent. Also, for example, consider this simple comparison between a ...
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  • 6,017
4 votes
2 answers
1k views

Genetic Relatives

In the vein of historical linguistics, what languages (modern or dead) are considered genetically related to English? Also what differences mark a language as a genetic relative vs a language that had ...
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  • 6,017
51 votes
4 answers
460k views

Is "everyone" singular or plural?

Which is correct? Everyone were convinced that he would go to the game. Everyone was convinced that he would go to the game. I think it's "was", because "everyone" is singular, but I just wanted ...
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12 votes
1 answer
9k views

In what ways is Appalachian speech closer to Elizabethan English than contemporary British?

I read this question in the sample questions section. It hasn't been asked yet, now I'd like to know. I have heard that regional dialects of English are often more closely related to provincial ...
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43 votes
9 answers
86k views

Is it correct to say "on accident" instead of "by accident"?

There is a great chasm on these phrases in the US. The great divide seems to be currently centered at the age of 40. The younger generation has began shifting to "on accident" for unknown reasons. ...
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  • 1,705
11 votes
4 answers
10k views

"Well" and "good" as applied to the quality of photographs

These photos came out well. or These photos came out good. According to the proper usage of well and good, the former would be describing the quality of the taking and developing of the photo; ...
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  • 12.2k
15 votes
24 answers
3k views

Favourite untranslatables [closed]

What are your favourite words and idioms in other languages that don't have good, succinct equivalents in English? (The issue of whether there is, or could be, a sentence on one language whose meaning ...
6 votes
2 answers
5k views

Is the usage of "speaks to" new? Is it American?

Two examples from Google: Doris McCarthy exhibit speaks to the artist as lover of life and A scribble that speaks to wild nature of art Is this use of 'speaks to' new? I seem to have only ...
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  • 5,849
12 votes
1 answer
1k views

What manual of style should I use for technical writing for US Federal Government documents?

For a lot of the questions I'm seeing on ELaU, it seems the answer is ultimately arbitrary and unlikely to be resolved by poll. Since style guides exist to settle the question for people who care not ...
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76 votes
8 answers
231k views

Is it correct to use "their" instead of "his or her"?

Is this sentence grammatically correct? Anyone who loves the English language should have a copy of this book in their bookcase. or should it be: Anyone who loves the English language should have a ...
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7 votes
3 answers
74k views

I thought "spare me with ..." means "don't bother me with the details of ...". Does it?

But according to my friend I am wrong. What do you think?
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  • 173
40 votes
4 answers
355k views

Should I write "that being said" (vs. "that's been said" or "Having said that")?

I often write what "sounds" right (being not a native English speaker/writer), and I believe the expression "that being said" to be fairly common, as opposed to a more complete form like "that's been ...
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  • 14.4k
24 votes
4 answers
13k views

What are some of the better English reference grammars?

What is your favorite English reference grammar, particularly in terms of accuracy and completeness? Please note: I am not asking for usage guides. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the best ...
8 votes
1 answer
4k views

Why would you write "ain't"? Isn't it a contraction only used in spoken English?

I often hear in English conversation or movies the contraction "ain't" (for "isn't"), but I am more surprised to see it in writing (and I am not referring to a novel, where I can understand its usage: ...
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  • 14.4k
22 votes
7 answers
10k views

Is there software that can determine whether I speak with a neutral accent?

I have a query regarding enhancing my accent. I am searching for software in which I speak a paragraph and it compares my speech to find out whether it is accent-free or not.
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23 votes
5 answers
3k views

Should you always use the accent in foreign words like "résumé"?

You can see in the aboutCV page of Stackoverflow Careers site that the word resumes is mentioned — not résumés or résumés. What should be the common practice here? What about other words like ...
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  • 14.4k
40 votes
7 answers
51k views

Is it alright to use lowercase "i" or should you always use "I" (uppercase)?

I frequently edit questions on StackOverflow, and I always fix the "i" into "I". See this edit revision for instance. When i I start my tomcat, i I am getting this problem. How could i I resolve ...
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  • 14.4k
11 votes
2 answers
6k views

Was the usage "Spaghetti were" ever acceptable or common?

In W. Somerset Maugham's The Moon and Sixpence, there is a line about Dirk Stroeve which goes His spaghetti were …. Spaghetti is plural in Italian, but is this ever a normal usage in English? ...
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15 votes
3 answers
3k views

How much punctuation is appropriate when ending a sentence with a full-sentence quotation?

When you end a sentence with a quotation that is itself a full sentence, do you use the quotation's punctuation? The containing sentence's? Both? Something else? I think this might be best ...
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  • 5,867
32 votes
7 answers
15k views

What does "great good" mean in the tutorial title "Learn You a Haskell for Great Good!"?

There is a site learn you a haskell with the title "Learn You a Haskell for Great Good!". Does "Great Good" mean "very very good"? Does the whole phrase mean "learning Haskell is good for you" or "...
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  • 1,095
11 votes
3 answers
498 views

What proposals have been made to give the apostrophe some relief?

The apostrophe has a lot of jobs. It makes things possessive, it indicates the omissions of letters in contractions and numbers in dates, it is used to indicate strange accents in dialog, and it ...
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9 votes
3 answers
4k views

Are actors taught to roll their "r"'s?

A particularly prominent example of a rolled r user is the actor Jeremy Brett, who played "Sherlock Holmes" in the 1980s Granada adaptations. I've noticed that several other actors, especially from ...
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140 votes
17 answers
187k views

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 ...
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  • 4,900
12 votes
6 answers
73k views

Is it wrong to start sentences with "in which case"?

I read a few things someone wrote and for the first time I saw a sentence starting with "in which case". This person does that very frequently, and it seemed really wrong to me. Some time after that ...
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  • 1,407
11 votes
4 answers
2k views

"Employee" in the phrase "employee ID" is a determiner, not an adjective—right?

I am a software developer with a bit of a linguistic slant. We were recently given some training on how to name database fields and were told to avoid adjectives in names. Then we were given an ...
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  • 220
33 votes
4 answers
50k views

How does the phrase "used to" work, grammatically?

It is common to hear people say "used to" to indicate that they did something in the past but no longer do; for example, "I used to play basketball." How would "used to," used in that context, fit ...
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  • 5,867
52 votes
3 answers
201k views

When should "into" be used rather than "in to," and vice versa?

"Into" (one word) and "in to" (two words) are frequently confused. In what situations should the former be used? The latter?
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  • 5,867
30 votes
5 answers
61k views

Difference between "ability" and "capability"

What is the difference in usage between ability and capability?
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  • 1,297
11 votes
5 answers
705 views

When referring to a noun, when does the gender matter? [duplicate]

In most languages, gender plays a much more important role than in English. Nevertheless, it is possible to refer to a noun using its gender. The ship was launched on 4 October 1853. Tayleur left ...
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62 votes
6 answers
134k views

Should I use a semicolon or a dash to connect two closely related sentences?

When you want to connect two closely related sentences, you can use a semicolon or a dash. (You can also use a dash for other kinds of non-sentential relations). How would you choose whether to use a ...
user avatar
  • 67k
38 votes
5 answers
26k views

What is the difference between "lay" and "lie"?

How do I know when to use lay and when to use lie, and what are the different forms of each verb? I'm always getting them confused.
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  • 67k

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