Submitted by Dyske  •  June 5, 2003

Sweet and Savory

Once I used the term “savory” to mean the opposite of sweet, i.e., pizza as opposed to ice cream. I used it in a sentence similar to: “In the savory genre, the pizza was the best thing they had.”

My friend, who is a professional writer, told me that he had never heard the word “savory” used to mean something not sweet, and therefore to avoid using it in that sense since many people may get confused. But then I keep hearing it used everywhere around me. So, how common is this usage of “savory” to mean something not sweet?

Submitted by Dyske  •  June 5, 2003


I use “shrewd” to mean smart but in a negative, cunning way. One native English speaker told me that this is wrong. According to her “shrewd” is just as positive as “smart”. But another native English speaker told me that I am right. What is your impression of the word “shrewd”?

Submitted by Dyske  •  June 5, 2003


The word “commodity” seems to have contradictory meanings. In one sense a commodity is something valuable, precious, desired, and/or expensive, but in another sense, it is something common, ubiquitous, dime-a-dozen, cheap, and undesirable. In my head, the former definition is more dominant, but is that normal? When you hear the word “commodity”, which association do most people have?

Submitted by Dyske  •  May 23, 2003

Dual Purpose or Dual Purposes?

“This knife has dual purpose.” Do I need to pluralize “purpose”? After all, the statement is saying that it has more than one purpose, namely two purposes.

Submitted by Dyske  •  May 8, 2003


Someone told me that “email” does not have a plural form “emails” because it is used in the same manner as “mail”, which means that “an email” is wrong also. So, I suppose I should be saying: “I received a piece of email from John.” as opposed to: “I received an email from John.”

Submitted by Dyske  •  March 18, 2003

The Reality

“The sun” gets the article “the,” because there is only one sun. Anything that we have only one of, we put the article. How about “reality”? When we use the word “reality,” don’t we imply its absoluteness? If there are many realities, then the word loses its meaning, i.e., it is no longer reality but an interpretation. If I mean by “reality” something there is only one of, couldn’t I put the article? For example:

“Joe is out of touch with the reality.”

(with that, I mean one and the only reality; not a specific one.).

Submitted by Dyske  •  January 11, 2003

Social vs. Societal

How do you properly distinguish them? In what context do you use one, and not the other?

Submitted by Dyske  •  December 10, 2002

Motives vs. Motivation

What is the difference between these two questions?

“What is his motive?”

“What is his motivation?”

Submitted by Dyske  •  November 27, 2002

Two Weeks Notice

There is a movie out called “Two Weeks Notice”. Shouldn’t this be “Two Week Notice”?

Submitted by Dyske  •  November 21, 2002


Some people say “emotionality” is not a word. It is in Webster. What is the difference between emotion and emotionality? What is my emotion? And, what is my emotionality?

Submitted by Dyske  •  November 16, 2002

lack of “a”

“a lack of” vs. “lack of” What is the difference?

Submitted by destabilizer  •  November 14, 2002

How old am I?

Am I 38 years old, or 38 year old, and why.

Submitted by Dyske  •  November 13, 2002


“I have a full control” Or “I have full control”

Which is correct? In what situations you say “controls”?

Submitted by Dyske  •  November 10, 2002

A position followed by a company name

In Wired magazine: “Kinsella and AS&E chief technology officer Joseph Callerame usher me into ...”

If the company name weren’t there, one would say “the chief technology officer” but if the name of a position is prefixed by a name of a company, then can you lose the article “the”? Wouldn’t you say “The IBM chief technlogy officer” ?

Submitted by Dyske  •  November 2, 2002

What Rhymes?

OK, I was talking to Roxy about rhyming, and she tells me that “purple” does not rhyme with “people”. They sound similar enough for all intents and purposes. Just why are they not considered rhyming words?

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