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.
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This is one of the most common errors people make, and I frequently come across people arguing about it. The explanations of how to use them properly are easy to find, but the conceptual difference between the two does not seem to stick in people’s mind. The confusion comes from the fact that “effect” can be used as a verb, although it’s rare. If it didn’t, there wouldn’t be any confusion (i.e. “effect” = noun and “affect” = verb). To make it worse, “effect” used as a verb is pretty close in meaning to “affect”. And, if that’s not confusing enough, “affect” can also be used as a noun, and it’s also similar in meaning to “effect” as a noun.
So, the only way to get the hang of using them properly is to see actual examples. While I was arguing about this with a friend of mine, I came across this quiz that tests your ability to use “effect” and “affect” properly. I’m curious how well or badly everyone does on this quiz.
So I frequently write headlines such as “Manchester United are in the quarter-finals” but I always wonder if it should actually be “Manchester United is in the quarter-finals”. I think I actually use them interchangeably depending on what mood I’m in. I guess the question is whether a soccer team is a group of players (”are”) or if it’s an entity (”is”). Which is it?
I cannot stand when people say “sleep” instead of “asleep”. For example I’ve heard, “When I got home, he was sleep on the couch”. What is this laziness of not saying ASLEEP?? I have lived in the North all of my life, and most recently moved to the south. This must be some sort of “southern dialect”, annoying to say the least....Has anyone else encountered this?
My wife is a non-native speaker and came up with the phrase above. Rightly or wrongly - I gently suggested that I’d use OR instead of AND ie
“I didn’t sleep last night AND the night before”. --> “I didn’t sleep last night OR the night before”.
That’s based on the sound of it (I’m no expert). The second sentence sounds better to me, but makes no sense really. Why is it “OR”.
In fact I’d probably use a slightly difference sentence in written English (after multiple hacks), and don’t really care re verbal use.
But that’s not my my question. I’ve been wondering about the use of ‘AND’ and ‘OR’ in similar contexts. For example:
“I don’t like chocolate OR ice-cream” “I don’t like chocolate AND ice-cream”
“I don’t like chocolate OR vanilla ice-cream” “I don’t like chocolate AND vanilla ice-cream”.
I think there’s two issues here... the grouping of words, and the way in which OR somehow acts like AND.
The AND vs. OR bit particularly bothers me... Can somebody explain this? In math/logic they are opposite terms.
How do pronouns function with a collective noun? Today I was in my College Prep class and we read a sentence that used the pronoun “they” after the word class. The sentence was “The teacher, who was angry, told the class to do whatever they wanted to.”
Would ‘it’ be a better pronoun than that and if not, why?