Submitted by michelle  •  August 28, 2008

“the below” vs “the following”

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?

Submitted by dickrommelmann  •  August 27, 2008

You’re not going to the game, are you?

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.

Submitted by javid  •  August 9, 2008

Excess vs. Excessive

When excess is used an as adjective, are these words the same. Is there a case for using one over another?

Submitted by frans  •  August 3, 2008

Instruction for filling out an answer form

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.

Submitted by tom  •  June 18, 2008

“I haven’t known”

A friend and I were having a discussion. The question asked was: what is the meaning of “I haven’t known?” If it’s even correct to say such a thing, which I suspect it is. I have a vague notion in older English usage of “I have known various women” and the negative of that, etc.

My friend was trying to ask me if it’s possible with that statement to indicate that something was not known at a point in the past, but is known in the present.

The example: Person A: Did you hear that Henry’s car is broken? Person B: I haven’t known.

Does such a thing make sense? Why or why not?

Any help in the explanation of this would be appreciated.

Submitted by pirx  •  May 28, 2008

Resource (singular) used when referring to a person

I feel a bit offended when someone uses “resource” when referring to an individual. I find this use quite popular especially in the IT world. I know that American Heritage Dictionary defines, among others, a resource as:

[...] 2. resources The total means available to a company for increasing production or profit, including plant, labor, and raw material; assets. 3. Such means considered individually.

Is using “a resource” when referring to a person a bad style? Am I overreacting?

Submitted by joseph  •  April 27, 2008

“as long as” vs. “so long as”

Am I correct when I teach my students that “as long as” means you’re measuring time, and “so long as” means you’re using it as a conditional?

Hence, “I was here as long as he was” (meaning we were there for the same length of time) and “I will love you so long as you don’t cheat on me” (used for cause and effect situations)

Submitted by corinne  •  April 24, 2008

Can “meantime” and “meanwhile” be used interchangeably?

I often hear television announcers say “Meantime” when I would say “meanwhile” or “in the meantime.” This seems to be a recent usage. Any comments?

Submitted by mightyredpen  •  January 31, 2008

perpetrating or perpetuating?

The Boston Globe today ran an op-ed with the headline “Perpetrating the Autism Myth.” But on the homepage, they referred to the op-ed with a link that said “TV shows perpetuate the autism myth.” What is the difference between perpetrate and perpetuate as they are used here?

Submitted by george  •  January 7, 2008

When to use verbs with an s or without

My teacher says the sentence “It is urgent Molly prepare a revised copy of the file.” is correct. I think it should be “It is urgent Molly prepares a revised copy of the file.” Molly is singular so it needs a verb ending with a s. Can someone help me?

Submitted by legaltranslator  •  November 27, 2007

obliged or obligated?

I am puzzled by the usage of ‘obliged’ and ‘obligated’. What’s the difference between the two words, which seem to share the same noun form “obligation”?

I could think of two sentences as below:

(1) John Doe is not obligated to do this.

(2) Experts felt obliged to investigate.

What if obligated and obliged are exchanged in the examples? any difference meaning?

Thanks

Submitted by silver  •  November 16, 2007

Skilled or skilful?

What is the difference between ‘skilled’ and ‘skilful’? Is it just a matter of collocation - the skilled craftsmen, the skilful footballer - or is there something more profound to it?

Submitted by tessajoughin  •  October 13, 2007

Nauseous or nauseated

I have always said “I feel nauseous”. My daughter found out that we are supposed to say “nauseated” because nauseous means that we are making others nauseous! I have never heard anyone say they feel nauseated so has the rule changed through common usage?

Submitted by xiphos  •  July 26, 2007

Plurals in titles

I’m crossing my fingers in hopes that this question will be answered without any attacks on a person’s personal beliefs. Can it happen?

When carrying more than one book entitled, “Book of Mormon,” do you say you have three “Books of Mormon?” This has been a bit of a joke among people of the LDS faith, as some people are very insistent that “books” must be used. The book is made up of many sections called “books” (similar to how the Bible is set up), and Mormon is said to be the editor who compiled and abrigded the book (hence the title). Based on that, I could see how someone could think of it as a collection of books edited by Mormon, and decide that “books” makes the most sense. Personally, I see “Book of Mormon” as a title that is handled like a complete unit, and so the plural would be Book of Mormons - which still sounds funny.

So, is there any set way to pluralize a title with the word book in it? Like “Books of the Dead” compared to “Book of the Deads?”

Submitted by annie  •  July 3, 2007

Merchandises as a word

I was wondering if it is alright to use merchandises as a word. I am reading a report where the author uses it frequently, e.g. delivery of merchandises. I think it should be delivery of merchandise rather than merchandises.

Submitted by barbara  •  March 13, 2007

troops vs soldiers

Listening to the news, I am wondering why there was a change of usage for troops and soldiers. Since the US involvement in Iraq, we are now sending “10,000 troops” over there, rather than 10,000 soldiers.

According to www.dictionary.com, a troop is Military. an armored cavalry or cavalry unit consisting of two or more platoons and a headquarters group.

Therefore, nothing has changed: troops still means a group. However, in the last few years it has come to be synonymous with “soldier.” Perhaps I missed something living abroad for so long.

Any clues would be helpful as I teach English and found this usage has changed.

Thanks. Barbara

Submitted by jonathan  •  March 5, 2007

Substantial vs. substantive

When I first heard someone use the word ‘substantive’ to mean ‘substantial’ three or four years ago, I assumed that they’d made a mistake. The next few times, which were in political speeches or academic contexts, I assumed it was pedantry or affectation. Now I hear it so much, that I’ve been forced (by my Chambers) to admit that it is probably a reasonable substitute.

Is there any substantial/substantive difference in the way one should use either form? And is there an explanation for the rise (if I am correct in perceiving it as a rise) in the use of ‘substantive’ over ‘substantial’?

Submitted by stal359  •  February 15, 2007

In actuality, actually

I hate the expression “In actuality, ... ” Is it correct or should one use “Actually,...”

Submitted by steven2  •  January 26, 2007

Ernest

I wonder whether anyone can clear something up for me. I have encountered a couple of times (once in a review of the play) the claim that the Victorian audiences for Oscar Wilde’s play “The Importance of Being Ernest” would have recognised in the word “ernest” a pun that relied on Victorian slang: one meaning of “earnest” was “homosexual,” roughly equivalent to the modern “gay.” Can anyone confirm or deny?

Submitted by susie  •  January 22, 2007

Everybody vs. Everyone

My mother and I were discussing the use of “everybody” and “everyone” at dinner this evening. Are these two words interchangeable? Is one more informal than the other? I have a B.A. in English, but oddly have never seen this topic, nor have I been asked about this. Any insight would be greatly appreciated!

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