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106 votes
3 answers

Difference between "delete" and "remove" [closed]

I am writing a mobile application that will, as a part of its functionality, display a list of recorded thoughts. Now I am deciding the textual content of the menus and that left me thinking whether ...
Maxim V. Pavlov's user avatar
106 votes
5 answers

Why is it "geometric" but "theoretical"?

I just came across a course name: Geometric and Theoretical Optics. The mismatched endings bug me. Why do we have both -ical and -ic endings? Is there any difference in meaning between, say, ...
Marthaª's user avatar
  • 32.6k
105 votes
12 answers

Why does "I was happy to do my homework" work, but "I was tired to do my homework" doesn't?

I'm teaching ESL, and I came across a question from one of my students that I don't know how to answer. Using the form "{subject} {verb} {adjective} {infinitive phrase}" we've been going over ...
Richard Winters's user avatar
104 votes
21 answers

How to say that food is hot (temperature) without the listener thinking that I mean "spicy"?

There is an excellent discussion of spicy vs. hot at this question. However, having read it, I did not see any answer that tells how to say unambiguously that food is hot (temperature) without being ...
Vivian River's user avatar
  • 1,881
104 votes
11 answers

What is the correct way to use infinitive after the verb "help": with or without "to"?

What is the correct way to use infinitive after the verb "help": with or without "to"? For example: Please, help me to understand this. or: Please, help me understand this.
rem's user avatar
  • 10.2k
104 votes
2 answers

Why is embassy spelled with E but ambassador with A?

It seems both words are related to each other through French roots (ambassade, ambassadeur), both of which are spelled with an "A" in the front. Why and when was the initial letter of "embassy" ...
dk2ax's user avatar
  • 821
104 votes
10 answers

Appropriate dash to use when attributing a quotation?

If I’m citing a poem or quotation, what kind of dash precedes the author’s name? For example: This Business of Printing; which I am heartily tired of, and repent I e’er attempted....  —John ...
GLM's user avatar
  • 1,041
103 votes
13 answers

Is there English counterpart(s) to Japanese old saying, “Present salt to your enemy.”?

We have a popular Japanese saying, “敵に塩を送る” — literally, “present (supply) salt to one's enemy”, meaning ‘play fair and square, not taking advantage of the weak point of your rival.’ It’s different ...
Yoichi Oishi's user avatar
  • 69.9k
103 votes
3 answers

Should I use a comma before "and" or "or"?

Is using a comma then an "and" or an "or" after it proper punctuation? Example: I fell over, and hurt my knee. Should I go, or not?
Nunya's user avatar
  • 1,033
103 votes
2 answers

Are the dual transportation and learning meanings of both "coach" and "train" just a coincidence?

In a learning context, you have one individual who "coaches" and another who "trains". In a transportation context, "coaches" and "trains" are both methods of transport. Is this just a coincidence ...
Kidburla's user avatar
  • 845
102 votes
3 answers

What is the correct possessive for nouns ending in "‑s"?

What is the possessive of a noun ending in ‑s? Are these both right, or is the second one wrong? the boys' books the boss' car
apaderno's user avatar
  • 58.6k
101 votes
12 answers

What is the difference between an Emperor and a King?

I was at a loss when I was asked recently by my grand-daughter who is a school girl about the difference between Emperor and King. She asked me why Great Britain has King and Queen, while Germany and ...
Yoichi Oishi's user avatar
  • 69.9k
101 votes
10 answers

How to pronounce "tuple"?

A recent question has reminded me of something I’ve been wondering about for a while: what is the correct way to pronounce tuple?
NPE's user avatar
  • 1,736
99 votes
23 answers

Idiom for someone who buys all the best gear to do something before they even have a basic proficiency?

I'm looking for an idiom to describe someone who decides to take up a new hobby, then buys an excessive amount of gear before they've even started. Perhaps they believe they need this gear to master ...
justinashleylawii's user avatar
99 votes
9 answers

"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 ...
grokus's user avatar
  • 3,654
99 votes
13 answers

Are collective nouns (and in particular companies) always given a plural verb form, or are certain ones treated as singular?

I'd say Microsoft have a way of bending the rules and I know that McLaren have won the championship. While this sounds strange, I believe it is correct English (sorry, I'm not native). But when it's ...
Abel's user avatar
  • 1,834
99 votes
14 answers

A word for a value between 0 and 1 (inclusive) [closed]

I'm a programmer. I'm so sick of writing documentation for things that should be explainable in a word. When you write a function in a programming language, you get to name its parameters. Most things ...
user81993's user avatar
  • 1,125
99 votes
6 answers

Should there be a comma after "i.e."? [duplicate]

If I remember correctly from English class, then one should put a comma after "i.e.", i.e., the Latin abbreviation for id est. But lately I've seen the comma after "i.e." dropped in books. So what is ...
Michael's user avatar
  • 1,237
98 votes
9 answers

History of "X is dead. Long live X"

What is the history of "X is dead. Long live X"? For example, Location is dead. Long live Location. JavaScript is dead. Long live JavaScript. I feel like I'm missing out on a joke.
tyndall's user avatar
  • 1,115
98 votes
3 answers

Why are names starting with a "J" common, while words starting with a "J" are uncommon?

There's a reason "J" is worth 10 points in Word feud, it's a quite uncommon letter. According to Lewand, arranged from most to least common in appearance, the letters are: ...
A. Kvåle's user avatar
  • 2,107
98 votes
7 answers

"Compared with" vs "Compared to"—which is used when?

Is only one of them correct? Are they used in different situations? Or are they interchangeable?
x3ja's user avatar
  • 1,119
97 votes
6 answers

What's the difference between a graph, a chart, and a plot?

A graph, a chart, and a plot can all refer to the same thing. Is there any even somewhat consistent distinction in these three words? (I mean, in this particular sense of the words; it is not ...
Kevin Reid's user avatar
  • 1,094
96 votes
4 answers

Is that an "r" in "worship" in a text from 1591?

I was trying to see how the Spanish word merced was translated into English in the 16th century, when I found this entry in a dictionary from 1591 by Richard Percyvall: I understand that the second ...
Charlie's user avatar
  • 2,555
96 votes
3 answers

How did English retain its non-Christian names of the week?

It amazes me that despite centuries of religion dominating almost every aspect of life in Britain or at the very least exerting a great deal of influence on the public and private sphere, the English ...
Nobilis's user avatar
  • 2,047
96 votes
9 answers

Why Third 'Reich'? Why is 'reich' not translated when 'third' is? What is the English synonym of reich?

Why is Nazi-Germany commonly referred to as "The Third Reich" in English? Why is reich not translated when Dritten ("third") is? And what is the English synonym of reich? Realm? Austria (Republik ...
d-b's user avatar
  • 1,295
96 votes
3 answers

Why does "Mickey Mouse Operation" refer to a poorly run company?

A phrase I commonly hear (and use myself) when a company (or individual, in some cases) does something that seems foolish or not planned is to ask What kind of Mickey Mouse operation are you ...
Skooba's user avatar
  • 3,873
95 votes
20 answers

Which expressions can be used to close an email? [closed]

At the end of written communication like emails and letters, it is customary to use a closing valediction or "complementary close". Which formal and informal expressions can be used to end emails?
Mehper C. Palavuzlar's user avatar
95 votes
3 answers

Is "believe you me" proper English?

I understand the phrase "believe you me" to be an emphatic version of "believe me" but how did it come to be? Is it a poor translation into English?
ChrisO 's user avatar
  • 1,504
94 votes
124 answers

What words are commonly mispronounced by literate people who read them before they heard them?

Quite a few words are mispronounced by under-educated people, or people learning English as a second language. Some words are often mispronounced by quite educated people who read, and began reading ...
94 votes
10 answers

How do Americans refer to their non-metric system in everyday circumstances?

In Australian English, we'd refer to using feet, inches, pounds, ounces and the like as "imperial units". In everyday conversation, do Americans refer to their non-metric units as "imperial", even ...
Andrew Grimm's user avatar
94 votes
16 answers

"Soccer mom": why soccer?

...why not football mom, baseball mom, or basketball mom? Soccer mom, as far as I can tell, is an American term made popular during the 1996 presidential elections, used to describe a key demographic ...
congusbongus's user avatar
  • 3,601
94 votes
3 answers

Why is there no "autumntime" or "falltime"?

Why is "autumntime" (or "falltime") not a word? wintertime => sure springtime => fine summertime => lovely But apparently autumn/fall has no equivalent. Why?
CupawnTae's user avatar
  • 1,295
94 votes
13 answers

Is "data" treated as singular or plural in formal contexts?

My non-native English speaking friend just asked me: "Data is..." or "Data are..."? I said both but that's because I've been desensitized from reading/writing both (especially from writing code and ...
glenneroo's user avatar
  • 1,321
94 votes
3 answers

"Maximum" vs. "maximal"

What is the difference in usage between maximum and maximal? When would you use one or the other? Maximum can be a noun or an adjective: This is the maximum it can be set to. This is the ...
nickf's user avatar
  • 1,979
94 votes
13 answers

Which is correct: "could care less" or "couldn't care less"?

What's the deal with the phrase "could care less"? Whilst growing up, I've always known people (parents etc) to use the phrase "couldn't care less", but I've also come across people who use the ...
Mark Embling's user avatar
  • 1,531
94 votes
7 answers

Is it acceptable to nest parentheses?

Is it acceptable to nest parentheses (for example, if I (meaning myself) write like this)?
Brad Cupit's user avatar
  • 1,043
93 votes
7 answers

Is there a gender neutral equivalent of “manspreading”?

Who knew that the term manspreading is considered deeply sexist? I didn't A nameless user proposed to delete the term from an answer of mine. His explanation was “remove misandry”. I had written ...
Mari-Lou A's user avatar
  • 88.4k
93 votes
29 answers

Is there an American English equivalent of the British idiom "carrying coals to Newcastle"?

I'm an American living in the Netherlands who is learning Dutch. There's an idiom in Dutch that describes performing a needless/futile activity, "water naar de zee dragen," which literally translates ...
FAE's user avatar
  • 902
93 votes
5 answers

What does 'TL;DR' mean and how is it used?

I do my best, at my advanced age, to come to grips with the apparent acceptability of such widely used words/expressions/abbreviations as lol/LOL, IMHO, AFAIK, etc. However, TLDR/tl;dr defeats me. ...
tunny's user avatar
  • 4,720
93 votes
5 answers

Which is correct, "dataset" or "data set"?

I write dataset instead of data set, in the same way I write database instead of data base. Looking at some English dictionaries, I don't find dataset. Does that mean dataset isn't correct and I ...
apaderno's user avatar
  • 58.6k
93 votes
2 answers

Is there a single term for "nieces and nephews"?

I find it handy when talking about my sons and daughters I can just say my children. It's nice to say nieces instead of sibling's daughters. I wonder if there is a similar term for nieces and nephews ...
Paul Hildebrandt's user avatar
92 votes
14 answers

Is there really no English equivalent to German's “Fachidiot”?

There was the following paragraph in the article that came under the title, “GOP and the rise of Anti-knowledge” written by Mike Lofgren in (October 29, 2015): “English ...
Yoichi Oishi's user avatar
  • 69.9k
92 votes
12 answers

Is "I'd've" proper use of the English language?

While reading a book, I came across the word I'd've, as in: I'd've argued against it. While it was obvious what it meant, it left me puzzled. Is I'd've a proper word?
Kobi's user avatar
  • 1,613
92 votes
1 answer

Is there a name for this type of sentence structure: "She looks as though she's been poured into her clothes, and forgot to say 'when'"?

Comedians seem to use phrases that employ this type of sentence structure - is there a name for it? Examples of Groucho Marx's one liners seem to fit this pattern — and if memory serves, Emo Philips. ...
user avatar
91 votes
5 answers

"Consist in" vs. "consist of"

I would like to clarify this once and for all: What is the correct use of "consist in" vs. "consist of"? "Meditation consists in/of attentive watchfulness." "The ...
Shivadas's user avatar
  • 1,340
91 votes
8 answers

Is -1 followed by a singular or plural noun?

Do we say "-1 thing" or "-1 things"? I am interested in both two things minus one thing(s) and minus/negative one thing(s)
moinudin's user avatar
  • 921
91 votes
10 answers

Equivalent of "both" when referring to three or more items?

What would be the correct word to use when referring to three or more items, in the same manner as the word both? For example, using two words, with the word both: "There are several ...
Wipqozn's user avatar
  • 1,176
91 votes
5 answers

Why is the word "pants" plural?

We wear a shirt, a jacket but a pair of pants. Why is pants plural?
glenstorey's user avatar
  • 1,029
90 votes
10 answers

Is "denigrate" a racist word? [duplicate]

A few years ago I was told not to use that word because, in addition to its negative meaning, it comes from Latin denigratus, past participle of denigrare, which means to blacken. Therefore, "to ...
Centaurus's user avatar
  • 49.5k
89 votes
25 answers

How to read “E = (mc)²” so as not to mistake for “E = mc²”

According to one of the questions already asked on EL&U, “E = mc²” is read as E equals M C squared. How do we read “E = (mc)²” so that it is not mistaken for “E = mc²”?
B Faley's user avatar
  • 4,215

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