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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Wondering a) if “quality-control” is a verb b) if it is, should the hyphen be used or not - two instances are found on the “About” page of this website - one with, one without:
“As long as we quality-control questions, we should not have to quality control comments.”
I was challenged by a colleague of mine with the subject question to me the other day.
I turned to several resources but failed to find a satisfactory and convincing answer and PainIntheEnglish is my last hope.
Can anybody help me?
Thanks a lot!
When completing forms that ask for my personal information, I find that many forms ask for “Street Address.” I dutifully fill in my home street address. When I do this I find that, a couple of weeks later, I get a phone call asking me if I’ve moved because a mailing addressed to me was returned marked “unable to deliver.” I explain that I don’t receive mail at my home address, and that I have a Post Office Box for that purpose. The frustrated caller then corrects the information that I provided on the form. I calmly explain that I provided the correct information that was asked for. But this wins me no points with the caller.
On other occasions, I have been able to ask someone, “Do you really want my “street address,” or would you rather have my “mailing address?” On many of these occasions I have been told, “No. We have to have your physical street address.”
So it appears that when a form says “street address,” sometimes they really want a “mailing address,” and at other times they really do want a “street address.”
Is there a general rule of thumb to decipher what people really want?
I’ve seen some writeups around the internet where they use the word “con-cum” or “con cum with”. I know “cum” means with in Latin like “suma cum laude” or transformation like “bus cum green house (bus converted to green house). Can anyone tell me how to use “cum” correctly, or should I avoid it as much as possible?
When writing, “the below changes will take place tomorrow” followed by a bulleted list of changes, would it be more correct to use the phrase “the following...”? Or, is this a matter of personal style? In the above context, what is the phrase “the below”, an adjective?
Question; are you going to the game? If I am, I say yes. Sometimes the question is framed “You’re not going to the game, are you?” If I’m not going I maintain the response is YES. as in yes, I’m not going. This has been a source of friction with a friend for some time. Comments please over this picayune dribble.
I am designing an answer form for multiple choice and true-false examinations. The form has also an instruction how to fill it out. I would like to know if the English is correct and if it is clear what I mean. The students have to fill in the box of their choice for every question, that is to “blacken” the box as they say.
Here is the instruction as I formulated it:
INSTRUCTION TO FILL OUT THE FORM
1. Use a blue or black ballpoint for filling out the requested information at the top of the form and for encoding your student number in the designated boxes.
2. Use a pencil (preferably HB) when giving the answers. Use an eraser for corrections. Do not use correction fluid or tape.
3. Answer every question by filling in the box of your choice (fill in one box only!).
At first I wrote regarding point 2 “Use a pencil (preferably HB) for filling out the answers.”, but someone told me that “when giving the answers” would be better English. Further I would like to know what the correct place of “only” is. Should one write “fill in one box only!” of “fill in only one box”?
I would appreciate your comments. Thanking you in advance.