February 16, 2004  •  goossun

Pronounciation of TH+S

I’ve been always wondering how I must pronounce: months, mouths etc. How the S after TH sounds? Z or S or what?

February 12, 2004  •  guriko

Writer or Author

I’ve always wondered about the difference between “writer or author” - I heard someone (not a native speaker either) say “I want to be an author.” Wouldn’t it be more natural to say she wants to be a writer, since she’s (attempting to) write a novel? What if she was compiling a cook book? would that be an author or a writer?

January 28, 2004  •  chuck

Is it A or An?

I’m a graphic designer and a customer wants the sentence: “I’m a M&M peanut.” I say it should be an because even though vowels preceed consanants, the sound dictates. It’s not mother or mouth, but “EM” the sound of the letter. That makes it a vowel to me.

January 20, 2004  •  slo

“Proper” Diction?

Hi all; first time here. I could probably ask questions till everyone is blue in the face, but I’d just as soon be able to research them myself. At this point, my English is much more intuitive than intellectual; what “seems” right to me usually flies, but I’d like to know the “proper” way, so that when I “break” a rule, I am doing so consciously. The gist of the above is that terms like grammar, diction, and usage are blurry. I just know this is not a spelling/punctuation query; those types of answers I can find in my dictionary. Is there a recognized “bible” for word usage? Here is a typical question I would look for in said source: Which is more correct, “I have a watch that runs slow,” or “I have a watch which runs slow,” or I have a watch that runs slowly,” or “I have a watch which runs slowly”? I noticed some time ago that substituting “which” for “that” often yields results which I don’t find disagreeable, and it drives me nuts. I would appreciate any responses directed to: slo11@mail.com Thanks for your time!

January 19, 2004  •  Dyske

The Flu and a Cold

Why does “flu” get “the”, while “cold” gets “a”? It appears that you never say “a flu”. Here is a good example.

December 5, 2003  •  Dyske

The Americans

When you say “Americans” to mean the American people, do you need “the”? What is the difference between with and without “the” for any nationality? E.g. “The Germans” vs. “Germans”, “The French” vs. “French”.

November 24, 2003  •  mitch

Love, In Love with, etc..

Ok, I hope I phrase this correctly to be understood well enough to elicit an answer. What is the difference between, being “in love” with someone, and telling someone “I love you.” Because to my understanding, you can be In Love With someone while not directly being involved with them (stalker, adoring fans etc...). But to tell some one that you love them or “I love you” would require a prior relationship. Are there two different connotations attached, or am I just an idiot?

November 20, 2003  •  fangrl

Advanced vs. Advance

When I hear things like “advance care” or “Game Boy Advance” it always makes me cringe. Is this really correct? Shouldn’t it be “Advanced care”, because it connotates a superior level of, well, care?

October 27, 2003  •  jude

age vs. aged

Is there a preference of any sort? As in “John Smith, aged 45, was awarded the city’s highest honor at a luncheon . . . ” or “John Smith, age 45, was awarded the city’s highest honor at a luncheon . . .”

October 22, 2003  •  joachim


Does anyone know anything about the etymology of the word “broad”, used to denote a woman?

July 29, 2003  •  Dyske


“I’d like to be friends with you.” Why “friends”? It seems to make more sense to say, “I’d like to be a friend with you.” The “I” is singular, not plural. “We are friends,” makes sense. “I’d like to be your friend,” too makes sense.

June 5, 2003  •  Dyske

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?

June 5, 2003  •  Dyske


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”?

June 5, 2003  •  Dyske


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?

May 23, 2003  •  Dyske

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.

May 8, 2003  •  Dyske


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.”

March 18, 2003  •  Dyske

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.).

January 11, 2003  •  Dyske

Social vs. Societal

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

December 10, 2002  •  Dyske

Motives vs. Motivation

What is the difference between these two questions? “What is his motive?” “What is his motivation?”

November 27, 2002  •  Dyske

Two Weeks Notice

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

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