March 31, 2006  •  stevem

Reference, refer.

Does anyone else find it annoying that reference is being used, more and more, as a verb? When people say things like “He’s referencing our trip to the mall” it really annoys me. It seems like they simply do not know that reference already has a verb form “refer.” Does anyone else have any thoughts on this?

February 27, 2006  •  sara

Title vs. Entitle

I like to think I’m pretty swell at English grammar, punctuation, and usage, etc. But there’s at least one thing I have never gotten down, and that is, when do you use “title” versus “entitle.” For example, would I write: “She read a book titled ---”? Or is it “She read a book entitled ---”? In what circumstances would either one be used?

December 18, 2005  •  Dyske

First Generation vs. Second Generation

When speaking of American people with respect to immigration, I had always assumed that “First Generation” meant the people who were born elsewhere and immigrated to this country. “Second Generation” in this sense means those who were born in the US from these “First Generation” parents. But recently I started hearing people use them the other way around. They call those who were born in the US, “First Generation”, because they are the first generation to be born in this country. Which is correct?

December 14, 2005  •  gandalf

____ and he?

Just now someone asked me if it was proper, in her essay about Prospero, to say that “He and Ariel . . .” Her question was about whether to use ‘he’ or ‘him’, but it made me wonder. In formal writing I might intuitively switch the order to “Ariel and he . . .” to parallel “___ and I”, but is it actually any more formal? In less formal writing, I prefer to ignore the I rule altogether and list whoever comes to mind first or is most important. It’s a silly rule anyway. ^_^

December 4, 2005  •  joannaceleftheriou

Much different

Since returning to the US, the phrase “much different” has come to my attention by grating on my ear. The way I see it, different is not a comparative adjective like “better” or “taller” and you can’t use “much.” “Really” and “very” only. Comments?

September 30, 2005  •  katden

subconscious vs unconscious

I have always been taught that subconscious was used when talking about the parts of your psyche that you are not aware of - “the subconscious mind” and that unconscious was a physical condition - “knocked unconscious” Lately I have been hearing people interchange the two; most of the time it is someone using “unconscious” in place of “subconscious”. Am I confused here? Are they interchangable?

September 28, 2005  •  sam

“Big of a”

This has always irked me, as prior to communicating with Americans on the internet, I’d never heard expressions such as “it’s not that big of a deal” - what is wrong with “it’s not that big a deal”? What is the extra “of” there for? It just sounds so awkward and out of place... is there a good reason for it? Is it even correct English?

September 28, 2005  •  joe2

Idea Vs. Ideal

Why do people say they have an Ideal instead of an Idea, which is correct?

September 28, 2005  •  dan

website or web site

Websters says it’s two words.

September 28, 2005  •  steve

Do not induce vomiting

Often poisons, and certain drugs give directions to NOT induce vomitting. Indeed, I don’t ever remember reading directions that did advise you to induce vomiting. So, this begs the question, are they saying go ahead and vomit but don’t do so by sticking your fingers down your throat, or are they saying avoid vomiting altogether... take some gravol or something?

September 28, 2005  •  steve

The Toronto Maple Leafs

Shouldn’t that be “The Toronto Maple Leaves”? They’re a hockey team in case you never heard of them.

September 26, 2005  •  kitty


My boss always says “irregardless” when I believe he should be saying “regardless.” Is irregardless even a word? Since I know what he means and more importantly, since he IS the boss, I refrain from correcting him, but this misusage always makes me cringe. Any insight? I’ll hang up and listen!

September 26, 2005  •  martin2

How many “ands” in a row

How can you put the word “and” 5 times in a row in the same sentence? I need to tell a story. The landlord of a pub called The Pig And Whistle asked a signwriter to make a new sign. When he saw it he thought that the words were too close together so he said to the signwriter “I want more space between Pig and And and And and Whistle”.

September 7, 2005  •  seankelly

Past tense of “text”

Now that text messaging has become a normal method of communication, “text” appears to have become a verb, as in “Text your vote in now”. Once that vote has been sent, what is the past tense? I don’t think that I can bring myself to use “texted”, but always saying “sent a text message” seems to be a contrived way to avoid “texted”.

July 20, 2005  •  ivaylotivanov

Mileage for kilometers

Can you help me find the best word that covers the same concept as ‘mileage’ but for kilometers: mileage (mileages) 1. Mileage refers to the distance that you have traveled, measured in miles. Most of their mileage is in and around town. N-UNCOUNT: also N in pl Are such neologisms as ‘kilometerage’ or ‘kilometrage’ used in English?

July 12, 2005  •  jiri

Assimilation /d/ + /j/

Hi I’m a non-native English teacher. We did recently some work on assimilation of /d/ + /j/ as in ‘Could you...’ or ‘Did you...’ I was trying to elicit some other examples from my students and I got back this sentence: There is a dead yak. Clearly, the two sounds meet here but I wonder if native speakers would really use any assimilation at all. To me, ‘dead Jack’ sounds odd..

June 30, 2005  •  scott


Can I replace smaller with littler always, sometimes, or never. Is the use of littler ever proper?

June 10, 2005  •  erik

I versus Me

I could have sworn that someone told me once that the proper use of one self when combining with one other was “me” and not “I”. For example, if I want to state that: “Jim and I discussed the proposal that was sent.” really should be: “Jim and me discussed the proposal that was sent.” Can you clarify?

May 26, 2005  •  ivaylotivanov

North or northern

Hi all! It’s a wonderful blog. Congratulations! I’m in this predicament: What is the rule for using north/south/east/west and northern/southern/eastern/western with geographical names? For example, why is it called “Eastern Europe” instead of “East Europe” and “North America” instead of “Northern America”. In this regard, which collocation is more acceptible - “Southern France” or “South France”. Why? What’s the rule? Thanks!

May 4, 2005  •  fishslapper

Everybody doesn’t say it like that...

It might seem a bit nit-picky but I was wondering about how people say... oh this is hard to word for me. Take for instance, a whiny kid who wants to go the park. His mom takes him to the side and says, “Timmy(or something like that), everyone doesn’t want to go to the park.” That’s a really bad example... But I’m wondering if that’s wrong, or if it’s any better at all to say, “Not everyone wants to go to the park.” It’s just that when someone uses Everyone + Negative verb it seems like “Nobody” instead of “Only a certain few”--I think they mean. Of course if no one wanted to go they would just say, “Nobody wants to go”, not “Everyone does not want to go”... it’s weird the second way. It grates my nerves to hear someone say “everyone can’t do it...” instead of “Not everyone can do it”. Maybe they don’t want to have a negative outlook. gyahhh. Am I making sense? (no).

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