104 votes
Accepted

What does "To die quietly of old age would be to go there on foot" mean?

Here is the rest of the quote in a letter by Van Gogh: So it doesn't seem impossible to me that cholera, gravel, pleurisy & cancer are the means of celestial locomotion, just as steam-boats, ...
David M's user avatar
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60 votes
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"Why does paper cut so well?", ambiguous question?

This kind of construction has been called an "internal argument as subject" construction, but is more broadly known as a "middle construction," as in between active and passive. It strikes me as not ...
Azor Ahai -him-'s user avatar
22 votes

"I am really not into it" vs "I am not really into it"

Suppose Chuck is really not into baseball. If you turn up baseball one more time in front of him, he just might hit you with the baseball bat! Now, if Chuck were not really into baseball, you could ...
niamulbengali's user avatar
17 votes
Accepted

Meaning and interpretation of Bilbo's "half as well" quote

I think changing the halves into "many or some" gets past the math. More than half means many and less than half means some. And then the phrase "half as well" is "not as much" or "less than". Both ...
Drew's user avatar
  • 186
16 votes

What does "If you are playing the Yankees, you don’t want the umpires to show up wearing pinstripes" mean?

In American Major League Baseball, the New York Yankees traditionally wear pinstripes on their uniforms. https://ftw.usatoday.com/2013/04/yankees-pinstripes-origin-babe-ruth 1 Thus, for the umpires, ...
drewhart's user avatar
  • 3,106
12 votes

"I am really not into it" vs "I am not really into it"

If all you are lacking is knowledge, then actually neither of those sentences is appropriate. Being "into" something, in this context, means being interested in it. For instance: Q: "...
Mark Foskey's user avatar
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11 votes

Meaning and interpretation of Bilbo's "half as well" quote

It means I don’t know some of you very well, and a few of you I ought to like better. And he said it that way because he wanted to make it difficult for his guests to quite work out what he was ...
tchrist's user avatar
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9 votes
Accepted

Is this just an error or am I missing something?

I suspect the intended meaning is, "As the farmers, we provide all our teas with a Tea Passport..." The producers are saying that they have farmed the tea themselves, rather than bought it ...
The Photon's user avatar
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8 votes
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Meaning of a sentence in "Aurora Leigh"

I will add all the words which were intentionally left out by the author, and simplify the fancier phrasing, to make its meaning plain: It would be as easy to pluck the stars from heaven (in order ...
Hellion's user avatar
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8 votes

"Why does paper cut so well?", ambiguous question?

It might have to do with the describing construction that exists in English in the form of: Object + Applicable action + Adverb In this case, let me change the verb cut to shred. Consider this ...
psosuna's user avatar
  • 2,775
8 votes

"I am really not into it" vs "I am not really into it"

If you want to be more polite, you would want to say I am afraid I do not possess enough knowledge in the field in order to be able to help. If you want to be less formal, you could say I am sorry ...
fev's user avatar
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7 votes
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Why does "There was little pretense of objectivity." mean "there is almost no objectivity"?

The sentence "The papers were highly partisan" has already told you that the papers weren't objective. The sentence you're asking about is expressing an additional detail: not only were they partisan, ...
Green Grasso Holm's user avatar
7 votes

What does this bit of Cockney mean?

So, from the other question about this fragment and some helpful comments with unsourced but plausible explanations, I think it is as follows: "1955, Saturday night, off to Tottenham Royal."...
SQB's user avatar
  • 421
6 votes
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They have some background strong

Pakistani here. The usual phrase is "strong background", but can be used as: His background is strong. It's used fairly commonly across the border here in Pakistan as well. He didn't use the exact ...
Amin Shah Gilani's user avatar
6 votes
Accepted

"The box contains, at most, one marble." Can the box contain no marbles?

Yes. 'At most' means means 'not more than' So, the sentence: "The box contains, at most, one marble.", naturally means that the box would have one marble or less than that(zero).
Sumanta's user avatar
  • 102
5 votes
Accepted

Meaning of the sentence from Rudyard Kipling's "The Man Who Was"

Without is used here in the intransitive sense “outside”. Within, correspondingly, may be used for “inside”. Today these are obsolescent if not downright obsolete uses, but ...
StoneyB on hiatus's user avatar
5 votes

"Why does paper cut so well?", ambiguous question?

As somebody who also got the wrong meaning of your question. There is another reason: how expected a concept is. As the other posters have said your sentence is constructed in a way that was ...
WendyG's user avatar
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5 votes
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What does "If you are playing the Yankees, you don’t want the umpires to show up wearing pinstripes" mean?

It's an illustration of the rule expressed in the preceding sentence. If you want to be (or appear) impartial, do not wear the uniform of one of the teams. The [Yankees] home uniform is white with ...
michael.hor257k's user avatar
5 votes
Accepted

love vs like, His mother loves him vs His mother likes him?

In many contexts, love is just an intensive form of like ("I love going to the seaside"). But when we are talking about the emotional bond between people (especially parent and child) they are ...
Colin Fine's user avatar
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5 votes
Accepted

What's the meaning of this sentence? "Don't grind your pearls"

To Grind your pearls is a casual reference to grinding one's teeth. The man is telling his friend to pay no attention to the ladies as it would make him frustrated and likely to grind his teeth, ...
Elliot's user avatar
  • 5,331
5 votes

"I am really not into it" vs "I am not really into it"

They mean slightly different things: I'm not really into it -- It's not something I hate, but it doesn't really excite me either. I'm really not into it -- I intensely dislike it.
Hot Licks's user avatar
  • 27.4k
5 votes

Is this just an error or am I missing something?

I think this may be a case of a misplaced modifier. Consider the part As the farmers, all our teas... It seems to suggest that teas are the farmers. Equivalently, if you use the participle phrase ...
user405662's user avatar
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5 votes
Accepted

'laid out on three levels of elevation 20 feet in height' Help me understand this phrase

The single-storey building is constructed on ground of different height or elevation, and so the sections needed to be connected by stairs. elevation NOUN Height above a given level, especially sea ...
Weather Vane's user avatar
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5 votes

What does "Espresso yourself! Ad gets latte love" mean?

It's an unsubtle play on words. "Espresso yourself" is, indeed, used to mean "express yourself" and "ad gets latte love" is similarly used to mean "advertisment gets ...
BoldBen's user avatar
  • 17.2k
5 votes

What is the negative form of "As soon as I saw her, I recognized her"?

There are two clauses, separated by a comma, in As soon as I saw her, I recognized her. The second clause is the main clause. The negative of the main clause is *As soon as I saw her, I didn't ...
John Lawler's user avatar
5 votes
Accepted

A binge is on its own

Yes, the sentence There was a binge yesterday is both grammatically correct and clumsy and I'd venture so far as to say that few native speakers (certainly BrE speakers) would put things that way. OED ...
High Performance Mark's user avatar
4 votes
Accepted

Meaning of excel

No, it does not mean that anyone failed to excel at football. The sentence seems a bit garbled, but I would parse it as follows: Wenger fell instantly for a sport associated with ( (the ...
oerkelens's user avatar
  • 36.6k
4 votes

Please untangle the logic of this for me

Apologies for the weak resolution, but below is what sentence-diagramming software yielded from a simplified version of that sentence. In short, I would describe the phrase as this: According to ...
RaceYouAnytime's user avatar
4 votes

Meaning and interpretation of Bilbo's "half as well" quote

I think Cogitative is on the right track in breaking the statement into two parts for simpler analysis, but I'm not sure that I agree with half as much of his or her interpretation half as much as I ...
Sven Yargs's user avatar
  • 163k

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