Jon Purdy
  • Member for 11 years, 3 months
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Did English ever have a formal version of "you"?
120 votes

Yes. As far as I know, you actually is the formal, originally plural version (ye/you/your) and thou was the informal version (thou/thee/thy/thine). Over time, thou became impolitely informal and is ...

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Substitute X for Y
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94 votes

This is probably the source of the confusion you noticed: “Substitute…for…”—first replaces second. “Substitute…with…”—second replaces ...

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How do the tens­es and as­pects in English cor­re­spond tem­po­ral­ly to one an­oth­er?
79 votes

For the sake of presenting the information in another way: I eat habitually; in general. “I eat venison occasionally.” as a command “Now, we eat!” I am eating at this ...

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Is it "falsy" or "falsey"?
61 votes

I've always seen falsy and truthy. Falsey is a perfectly acceptable alternative and gives me just as many search results. The word is unfortunately too new to provide good sources. The ECMAScript ...

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Is "authentification" a real word?
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60 votes

Authentication is the preferred form in English. The variant authentification is acceptable, but less common—it’s often used by non-native speakers who aren’t aware that it’s less idiomatic in English,...

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Is there a word for this emotion? Resentment over someone's good fortune without wanting it - Not quite jealousy/envy
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58 votes

I don’t think you will find a better word than begrudge for “regard as ill-deserved”. I know I shouldn’t care, but I begrudge my ex his new partner a bit. Merriam-Webster agrees that it needn’t have ...

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Is there a rule about double negations that aren't meant as double negations (e.g. "We don't need no education")?
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53 votes

Doubled negatives are often used casually in certain dialects to indicate negative concord, an intensification of negation rather than an inversion of it. This typically happens when both words ...

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"you" versus "You" as polite form of writing
51 votes

No, it would be seen as unusual, perhaps archaic. The only reason I is capitalised is that i doesn't stand out visually, and needs added visual emphasis. He, Him, and His are capitalised when ...

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Is there a historical trend towards shorter sentences?
49 votes

Writing for an internet audience means writing short, easily-consumed sentences that can be rapidly skimmed for content, and which don't force the reader to continue slogging through a wordy ...

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Why "go off", as in "alarm went off"?
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45 votes

To go off in this sense is related to the expression to set off, meaning to start or to be started. It implies that the subject was in a state of rest, then moved off from that state into action. The ...

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What is "won't" a contraction of?
42 votes

Won’t actually has a pretty interesting and complex history. Ultimately it does come from a contraction of will and not, but it all happened in a rather roundabout way. It all started off with the Old ...

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What is the antonym of the prefix retro-?
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40 votes

Well, retro- comes from Latin, originally meaning backward, back, or behind. Antero- is used in some technical contexts (such as anterograde amnesia) but it's rather uncommon. It literally means ...

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The times they are a-changin'
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35 votes

The a- prefix is a reduction of Old English an/on, meaning on, used to express progressive aspect. English used to have more of a distinction between present simple and present progressive; what we ...

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Adjective for 'shite'
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34 votes

The adjective form of shite is shite: That was a shite film. I feel shite about it. Mondays are always a bit shite.

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What is a good, short, word to describe a software engineer?
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34 votes

In increasing order of formality: Coder refers to someone who engages in the act of writing source code, and has a very casual, possibly even negative connotation. Programmer refers to someone who ...

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Is employing hyperbaton correct in English?
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32 votes

Hyperbaton correct is indeed—from the Germanic side of the ancestry of English, a holdover must I'd wager it be—though usually archaic it is considered, and thus poetically and ...

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Is "there're" (similar to "there's") a correct contraction?
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32 votes

There're is common in speech, at least in certain dialects, but you'll rarely see it written. If I were being pedantic, I'd advise you to use there are in your example, because there is is definitely ...

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Meaning of "I'll make due"
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31 votes

The idiom is actually “to make do”, and it means to work with what you have, to continue somehow despite an impediment or non-ideal circumstance. It uses do in the sense of “suffice”, as in “That’ll ...

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Is there a name for the final section of a letter?
31 votes

It's called a valediction or a complimentary close. The opening phrase is called a salutation.

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Sentences beginning with "so"?
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28 votes

What is "so" when a sentence begins with it? It's a discourse marker, like oh, well, now, and many others. It can be used… To inform the listener that something is relevant to their ...

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Which is correct: "Filename", "File Name" or "FileName"?
28 votes

Filename is in my experience the most common and in my opinion the best looking. File name is also acceptable, but I would only use it rarely, perhaps in a parallel construction such as the file name ...

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An antonym for "shortcut"
24 votes

I don’t believe there is a single word in common use. The most common term I know of is long way or long way around. I have heard (and used) longcut in jest. Wiktionary indicates that longcut may be ...

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When to drop the 'e' when ending in -able?
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24 votes

The only situation that comes to mind where an -e- is absolutely required before -able is when it modifies the pronunciation of a consonant, typically g or c: Manageable (g as in giant) versus **...

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"Between A and B" or "from A to B"
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24 votes

Saying “between 1 and 10” is somewhat ambiguous; usually people will say “between 1 and 10 inclusive” or “between 1 and 10 exclusive” to clarify when there is no other context. Both “between…and…” and ...

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Spelling "Yeah" and "Yea"
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23 votes

They are differentiated by spelling: Yay [ jɛi ] (as opposed to, say, boo) is for joy and exultation; Yeah [ jæ ] (synonym of yes, opposite of nah) is for ordinary assent; and Yea [ jɛi ] (opposite ...

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What exactly does "fap" mean? [NSFW]
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22 votes

For the sake of giving this a fun answer in case you're asking in earnest... Fap is an internet neologism, an onomatopoeic intransitive verb referring to the act of male masturbation, whose sound is ...

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To gain insight into or on?
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22 votes

Into is correct here. I don't think there's any other preposition that works, except perhaps to, though that's much less common. All of the Google results I see for insight of have it as part of a ...

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Why do people pronounce "Naomi" as "Niomi"?
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21 votes

I think this is a mild hyperforeignism that comes from an attempt to pronounce “Naomi” more like the original Hebrew: nah-oh-mee [na.o.mi]. The [ao] sequence is uncommon in English—and because there ...

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Reason for different pronunciations of "lieutenant"
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21 votes

Etymonline indicates that spelling with lef- dates to the 14th century, but that the origins of that spelling (and presumably its associated pronunciation) are “mysterious”. The word comes originally ...

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Why is X used when we pronounce it Z?
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21 votes

Xylophone is from the Greek xylon, which is (or was—I'm not up on my modern Greek) pronounced with an initial [ks]. Many words borrowed from Greek via French developed a [gz] pronunciation along ...

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