105

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, omnibuses and railways are the terrestrial means. To die quietly of old age would be to go there on foot. Basically, Van Gogh is saying that it's very possible ...


59

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 particularly unusual, if maybe a little bit literary. For example, from Massam (1991), where "_" marks the empty structural object: This article analyses ...


16

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, who are supposed to be impartial judges, to "show up wearing pinstripes," would suggest they were, in fact, favoring the Yankees.


8

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 to pin them on the earth) as it would be to make you poor again, thank God. So yes, 'pluck' is being used as a verb (in the infinitive form) here, and the ...


8

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 passage, then: Paper shreds well. Glass, however, doesn't. It shatters before it can be shred, when run through a shredder. Here, it's not very ambiguous that ...


6

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 phrase in the audio, though but that's what he meant. "Strong background", when applied to a person, means that they either wield influence, belong to an ...


5

To spare someone means to exercise discretion in making someone's punishment more lenient. Few were spared his wrath, etc. So if being called "liar" is a type of punishment, then it's saying that being called "deluded" is not a lesser punishment.


5

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 ambiguous, so people use their experience to asses what you are asking. It is much much much more common to discuss cutting paper than being cut by paper*, so people ...


5

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 distinctive pinstripes and a navy interlocking "NY" at the chest. Wikipedia


5

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 different in kind, not just in degree. Liking somebody does not imply that there is any amount of love there. The reverse is more problematic. It's certainly ...


4

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 were quite common from Middle English into the early years of the twentieth century.


4

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 the court, there is nothing that overrules an agency's decision except for [absent] when there is a disagreement between a hearing officer and a reviewing ...


4

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 working classes) and (kids in school that failed to excel) ) "Kids in school that failed to excel" would probably be easier to read as Kids that failed to ...


4

John I believe Sally said Bill believed Sue saw. is a transform of the grammatical (though complex) sentence I believe Sally said Bill believed Sue saw John. via the Left Dislocation transformation. This sentence in turn is a transform of I believe that Sally said that Bill believed that Sue saw John. which is much clearer, though longer, with all ...


4

The meaning is pretty much what he writes. A short paraphrase is If a person can do something better than others, then other people will seek them out. Specifically: If a man can write a better book or preach a better sermon or make a better mousetrap... Those are just examples. He means in general if someone can do something well. than his ...


4

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, they didn't even try much to look neutral. ("Little" here modifies "pretense", not objectivity or the lack of objectivity.) Your second interpretation would ...


4

This is an interesting case. The difficulty is often spotting such things in your own writing, or when editing work from someone with the same viewpoint. This is just as true for native speakers, in fact we may be more likely to pick up on a second meaning with a slang or idiomatic background. It is of course easily avoided. You can rewrite the sentence &...


4

Suppose that you'd instead asked "Why does paper tear so well?" It would be completely obvious that you meant "Why is it so easy to tear paper?" and not "Why does paper tear other things so well?" In that case, the second parsing doesn't really make sense. However, in the case of "cut", both parsings make sense and some people picked the wrong one. Also, ...


4

It certainly could be more clearly said, but I would read this as the "savage" has been stabbed, resulting in their "doubling up." The actions "stabbed," and "snarling, with the spear," are a list of the things Ralf did after "launch(ing) himself like a cat."


4

Crust in English slang means impertinence, according to Collins English Dictionary. You have to scroll quite far down to find this meaning. YourDictionary.com gives the slang meaning as 5.Slang audacity; insolence; gall In my comment, I said that crust of a rhino probably meant a thick hide that was impervious to subtlety or nuance; that one would have ...


3

I can see why child makes no sense in the given context - it seems unlikely he was selling government bonds to young kids. Luckily, urban dictionary gives us an alternative meaning, indeed referring to a nationality: a demoralizing racial slur used to put down people of Japanese background. equal to calling an asian person a chink or a black person a ...


3

I believe that you are confusing the word stringent with the closely related but somewhat different word strict. Oxford Dictionaries Online says that stringent is a word used specifically for “regulations, requirements, or conditions”. As such, it is not a good fit for use on people. They prove many, many examples, including these few: ‘For this ...


3

Dear Professor Zoom, I am studying psolimestry, and my research has revealed that you are an expert in this field. I would be very grateful if you could find the time to resolve some of my doubts. The first matter I find difficult to understand is . . . I am also struggling with a contradiction between . . . I do hope you can ...


3

leaping into saddle as she ran aka running mount, valulting mount and galloping mount! As she ran, she mounted the moving horse - a quick get-away! Some equestrians call this a running vault. It is still found in Am rodeos. 2 short videos to demo: running mount 1 slow running mount 2 fast My sense is the construction is to aid a visual image of speed ...


3

I think there's a nuance of difference. "You can be a singer or a dancer." doesn't seem to specifically exclude the possibility of being both. "You can either be a singer or a dancer." does, in my opinion, exclude that possibility.


3

There was a similar question five years ago: https://ell.stackexchange.com/questions/11611/what-do-you-care The answer from that question pointed out that "Why Do You Care?" is a genuine question while "What Do You Care?" is more of a dismissive way to talk to someone, saying they don't or shouldn't care about something. In the case of the Feynman book, I ...


3

10 feet long = ten feet in length 10 feet high = ten feet in height 10 feet wide = ten feet in width 10 feet deep = ten feet in depth 10 inches thick = 10 inches in thickness a million strong = a million in strength And the "strength" of a group is normally expressed in how many individuals it contains. An army 10,000 strong marched on the city. ...


3

"rather affected" - somewhat pretentious or fake "my literary parents" - well-educated, but probably snobbish, parents "christened" - given a Christian name, old-fashioned way of saying given a name "never...all the use" - the negative never lets us know that the name is not used Translated to more modern English it might read: "My smarty-pants parents ...


3

In this sentence, "step back" is the third of three actions listed - the first being "block investment" and the second being "police it rigorously". In the final context of this sentence, it means that regulators, or whoever is controlling this investment, will "step back" from the controls it is placing in the other two actions listed in the sentence. ...


3

'How come' and 'why' basically have the same meaning, and mainly differ in their use in set phrases and quotes. The nuance is the same for both however, but 'how come' is slightly more informal How come John isn't coming Why isn't John coming? Same nuance for both 'How is it that' is often used when expressing frustration at something E.g. How is it that ...


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