This is a forum to discuss the gray areas of the English language for which you would not find answers easily in dictionaries or other reference books. You can browse through the latest questions and comments below. If you have a question of your own, please submit it here.
Search Pain in the English
Am I alone in despairing when I hear phrases like:
- “We played brilliant.”
- “He did it wrong.” (or more commonly “He done it wrong.”)
- “He behaved stupid.”
Some people think that there is a difference in meaning between “in that regard” and “in that respect”, some believe that a lot of phrases using “regard” or “regards” are in fact making inappropriate use of the word, and of course some think there is nothing wrong with such usage.
Does anyone else think that the phrase “In that regard” is overused and misused?
Is there any defense of capitalizing after a semicolon? This reads well to me:
We do not sell tricycles; We sell velocipedes.
Learn the difference.
Not capitalizing the first word of the second clause diminishes the perceived parallelism:
We do not sell tricycles; we sell velocipedes.
The store around the corner sells bicycles.
With a period between them, the first two clauses read like the premises of a syllogism:
We do not sell tricycles. We sell velocipedes.
Do we sell unicycles?
I will continue, of course, to pen as I please, but, in this instance, wonder if I can confidently publish as I please.
Is separating two coordinating-conjunction-linked sentences, the former having a comma(s), with a semicolon instead of a comma logically justified?
In GrammarBook.com’s Semicolons category, Rule 5. reads:
Use the semicolon between two sentences joined by a coordinating conjunction when one or more commas appear in the first sentence.
Examples: When I finish here, I will be glad to help you; and that is a promise I will keep.
If she can, she will attempt that feat; and if her husband is able, he will be there to see her.
The AP Stylebook today announced that electronic mail is now spelled without a hyphen: email. Finally. I personally haven’t used “e-mail” in about a decade. We have a thread here on this topic of how to properly spell email.
At the time, I commented that it may take another 10 years for this to settle, but it took less than a year!
Onamography is a writing technique that involves creatively incorporating proper nouns (company names, celebrities, etc.) in regular English sentences.
A few examples to clarify the concept:
Onnicle 1: The man at the bar acknowledged that he found the job amateurish. Onnicle 2: The SMS said..Bob ill. The rag ate sick shellfish!
The first sentence has ‘Barack Obama’ embedded in it and the second one has Bill Gates. The concept can be extended to include multiple names in a paragraph.
I’ve been trying to find out if there is already a technical name in English to describe it. Onamography is a coined word (Greek origin: onuma --> name, graphe --> writing) as I couldn’t find anything else that comes close to describing the concept.
Have you noticed that, at trendy cafes, more than half of the laptop computers you see are the new MacBooks? (Well, at least in New York City.) I don’t mean any MacBook; I’m talking about the latest MacBook (”the brick”). In fact, I believe seeing the older versions of MacBooks is rarer than seeing PC laptops.
If these people are deciding to work at cafes for practical reasons, then the laptop demographic should be much more diverse, with a lot more PCs and older versions of MacBook, but this is not what I see. The demographic is heavily skewed towards the latest models of MacBook. So, I would have to conclude that the reason why these MacBook owners come out to cafes is because they want to show off their brand new MacBooks.
It would makes sense, therefore, to coin a term for showing off your MacBook at a cafe. I’ve struggled with this for a while, and this morning, I decided that it should be “Mac off”.
“Hey, honey. I’m gonna go Mac off at the Starbucks for a few hours, OK?”
“At a cafe in Williamsburg, I saw about a dozen people sitting in a row Mac’ing off.”
“I bought the new MacBook Pro last week, but I haven’t Mac’ed off yet.”
If you have a kid and a stroller, I’m sure you’ve experienced this many times. You hang a lot of stuff from the handle of the stroller, and when the kid jumps out of it, the whole thing topples over.
One of my friends wants a word for this (a verb). I tried to think of one, but I couldn’t come up with a good one. (”Stropple”, for instance, isn’t so good because the sound of it lacks the impact of the actual event.) Can anyone think of one?
Is there a word to describe a Twitter user who follows everyone in an attempt to get them to follow him? Now, I’m getting a regular stream of them. When you look at their profiles, they have hundreds of followers. It’s just not possible or practical to read that many tweets every day. Obviously they are not reading anything; they just want you to read their tweets. It’s a marketing ploy.