August 19, 2011  •  Nancy Resnitzky

Proper use of st, nd, rd, and th — ordinal indicators

Is writing “the August 1 card” correct, or should it be “the August 1st card”? I know July 23rd, 2011 is incorrect but when it comes to the “st”, I’m a confused Canadian. Can you help?

August 1, 2011  •  Hairy Scot

Stood down

In the antipodes it is common to use “stood down” as a synonym for suspended, eg - “The Commander of a Navy vessel has been stood down from his position following allegations of “inappropriate” behaviour on a recent port visit.”. But somehow this does not sound right. A person can stand down, ie: resign or give up a post, but I am not sure that it is correct to say a person was stood down. Why not just say “suspended”?

July 20, 2011  •  isis

“council” vs. “board”

What is the difference between “council” and “board”?

July 8, 2011  •  Ken Jr

Use of “he” for your father

This has become very aggravating for me. I have searched the internet and can find very little about this in a quick reference way. When I was growing up I was taught that when I spoke about a third person and they were present, that I should use their name or their proper reference title (such as Dad, Mom, Grandpa/Grandfather, and especially elders in general) to refer to them at the very least in the first sentence that involves them. For example as a child if I picked up the phone and my Dad was calling, after I spoke with him he would ask me to pass the phone to my Mom. Knowing full well that my father could hear what I was saying, I would say “Dad is on the phone.” to my mother, NOT “He is on the phone.” as I pass the phone to her. Even though my Mom knew that it was “Dad” whom would be on the phone should I have said “He is on the phone.”, I would never have referred to my Dad as “he” in the first sentence referring to him. I was taught that is very disrespectful. I think the tone taken in such an instance is disrespectful and exclusionary in a sense, but I’m not sure what grammatical rule applies or what it’s called. Can someone help me with this? Thank you for your help.

May 16, 2011  •  Pam Kline

wrong, incorrect, bad

I am currently teaching English in Spain and one of my students asked me a question that has left me dumbfounded. How would someone explain the differences between: Wrong/Right Incorrect/Correct Bad/Good I know what sounds good, but I haven’t been able to find a hard and fast rule.

May 3, 2011  •  Thảo

Common vs. Commonplace

What is the difference between “common” and “commonplace”? In which situation can I replace “common” by “commonplace”?

April 24, 2011  •  sigurd

Is “nevermore” a real word?

Is “nevermore” a real word? Can it be used in “ordinary” writing? I’m wondering because it seems to be the only word that means ‘never again’, and it would be nice to have a concise word.

April 11, 2011  •  lef

and so...

I seem to have developed a writing tick of using “and so” rather than “therefore” or “accordingly.” I like the flow of “and so,” but I have been discouraged from using it. I’m curious about what others think of “and so.”

February 10, 2011  •  alysondraper

gifting vs. giving a gift

When did we stop “giving” presents, and instead started to “gift” presents?  I was taught that “gift” was a noun and not a verb, but it appears it is now used as the preferred verb to indicate the giving of a gift.

February 10, 2011  •  alysondraper

“graduated high school” or “graduated from high school”?

Is it really proper to say “I graduated high school,” or should it not be, “I graduated from high school?” Previously, I thought only rednecks were able to “graduate high school.”

February 9, 2011  •  cancuckft

Use of “Referenced”

Am I the only person in the world who finds the ubiquitous misuse of the verb “reference” to be incredibly annoying? Where did the use of “reference” rather than “refer to” start? I realise that the definition can skirt close to this usage, but I maintain that it is a misuse.

February 8, 2011  •  Hairy Scot

Signage

The word signage seems to keep popping up more and more and it would seem that in the majority of cases it is being used as the plural of sign and increasingly is perceived as a “clever” alternative to that plural. The OED states: Chiefly N. Amer. Signs collectively, esp. public signs on facia boards, signposts, etc.; the design and arrangement of these.

February 1, 2011  •  sigurd

Is there a gustative equivalent to the olfactory “malodour”?

Is there a gustative equivalent to the olfactory word “malodour”? Is there a lexical, not imaginary, word that means anything that tastes bad just like “malodour” means anything that smells bad?

October 8, 2010  •  therambler

Rules for “do” or “make” followed by a noun

Any regular rule applicable for those words “make” and “do” while using with some nouns? make war do the homework make a new plan doing my own business Any rule ladies and gentlemen, or just memorize every case one by one?

October 3, 2010  •  lys

thus, therefore and hence are different

A simple way of distinguishing and using these words accurately: 1. ‘Thus’ means ‘in this/that way’ - it relates to ‘HOW’ - the manner in which - this or that happens or comes about. It has a practical flavour. eg.Traditionally, you arrange things thus = Traditionally, this is how you arrange things 2 .’Therefore’ means ‘for this reason’, or ‘because of this or that’ - it relates to deductive reasoning, it tells WHY this or that is so, or happened. eg. He was late and therefore missed the bus = he was late and for this reason missed the bus 3. ‘Hence’ means ‘from this/that’ - it relates to WHERE - position, or point in time; it tells from where or what, or to where or what, something comes, derives, or goes eg. -i. Get thee hence! = Get yourself away from here! -ii. Henceforth all entrances will be guarded = From now on all entrances will be guarded -iii. She got the job - hence her good spirits = She got the job and her good spirits derive from that fact. (Note the different slant to ‘therefore’, which would also fit, but would say ” her good spirits are due to (’because of’; ‘for that reason’) that”.

September 2, 2010  •  meghan

Use of obscure words like “ebulliate”

What do you think about using obscure and out-of-use words, such as “ebulliate”? You won’t find it on dictionary.com or even if you google it, but it is in the OED and appears to be a verb-form of “ebullient,” which, of course, is a commonly used word today. My vote was to use it because, hey, it is a word, why confine myself to commonly used words, if we don’t keep up or revive the more obscure words then we’ll lose them forever, and worse, we’ll be overrun by new words being invented not in a smart Joycean fashion but rather inspired by the world of texting and internet chatting fashion. This thought works for phrases like “might could,” too, which I used even though some of your commenters had negative things to say about it. But my question really is whether it is ok to use obscure words when it’s likely no one knows it/them and unless the reader has access to the OED, which most people don’t, and won’t be able to define it/them, but can probably figure out the meaning from the context of the sentence.

August 12, 2010  •  egon

Interrogative use of perhaps/maybe

Is it technically incorrect to use “maybe” in an interrogative sentence? Or to make an indefinite statement (with “maybe” or “perhaps” in it) interrogative? ‘Maybe we just need to add some more salt?’ -- Is it incorrect to use a question mark here? Technically, I guess, it’s a statement, so it shouldn’t take a question mark, but in natural speech it can come across as a question (you’re *asking* if we should use more salt) and a question mark at the end can reflect this. But maybe that’s just plain wrong? (← Like this.) Actually, that’s not a great example... What I really want to know is whether or not it is always incorrect to use “maybe/perhaps” interrogatively in formal written English. Any thoughts?

August 5, 2010  •  melania

anything vs. everything

What is the difference between writing “Find anything again” and “Find everything again”? My feeling is that “everything” has a more positive connotation.

July 21, 2010  •  demisty

Really happy or real happy

I think when used as an adverb or adjective, the word should be really, as in “She is really happy.” Real is equivalent to true, or genuine, or actual whereas really is equivalent to the word very. Is it correct to use real as an adverb or adjective in this way?

May 5, 2010  •  devind

A piece of irony

I find myself lately having to resist the compulsion to correct those around me when I hear the term ignorant used in the wrong, ever-persisting way. Example: “What a loser: he just tripped himself playing soccer!” “Uggh, jerk, don’t make fun of him! You’re ignorant.” (sometimes pronounced “ignert” in my local area) Anyone else happen to run into this problem as frequently as I do?

  1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9  

Recently Discussed

Friendly - adjective and adverb?   —December 20, 2014, 12:29pm

issue as problem  —December 20, 2014, 3:10am

Victorian Era English  —December 18, 2014, 6:55pm

Difference between a release and a waiver  —December 18, 2014, 3:57pm

Who/whom, copular verbs, and the infinitive  —December 17, 2014, 5:34pm

“Anglish”  —December 17, 2014, 12:42pm

“I’ve got” vs. “I have”  —December 16, 2014, 4:36pm

Quotation Marks in Parenthetical Statement  —December 16, 2014, 9:23am