Submitted by gerrymerchant  •  March 8, 2005

you all

Why do most Americans say “you all” instead of just the second person plural “you”? When and where did this originate. I am expecting answers from you all.

Submitted by ericguyer  •  March 7, 2005

affectatious

Is this a real word? Can’t find it in dictionaries, but commonly used as found by web search.

Submitted by martine  •  March 5, 2005

partner

Recently a guy introduced his significant other (a female who was present) to me by saying “this is my partner”, and it took me some time (and after seeing them together) to figure out that she was a significant other instead of any other forms of “partner” - a business partner, a tennis partner, etc.

My understanding of the term is that “partner” is often used to refer to a homosexual partner, which is apparently not the case here; or, when the partner being mentioned is not present, I guess one could say “my partner and I went shopping”, in which case, the “partner” could be taken as either male or female.

But when the person herself is there, isn’t “partner” too general a term to use? would you have figured out right away that he meant a significant other? Or is this an accepted usage within any specific region? (this is in the U.S.)

thanks, Martine

Submitted by megan  •  March 2, 2005

Comprise

Does anyone know the correct way to use “comprise”? I’ve often seen it used like this:

The conference comprised of a number of lectures...

I don’t think it would be right to say “the conference comprised a number of lectures” but I’m really not sure about using “of” with “comprise”.

Submitted by tedswedock  •  February 26, 2005

Worst

Are the following sentences proper and correct?

“The weather is getting worst.” “The ten best clients and the ten worst clients.”

My wife insists that it should be worse and not worst.

Thanks.

Submitted by eduardo  •  February 17, 2005

eat vs. have breakfast

I came across a question as I was writing some ELT material. What are the pragmatic implications when choosing between the verbs “to eat” or “to have” (breakfast)?

I might be off base here, but it seems to me that when choosing 1. “to eat breakfast” the real question is whether or not one had breakfast. While 2. “to have breakfast” seems to evoke the act and time of having breakfast itself and everything that goes with it.

For instance:

1. Did you eat breakfast today? 2. I always have breakfast before lunch.

What do you all think?

Submitted by eduardo2  •  February 11, 2005

DOUBT vs. QUESTION

As a non-native teacher of English as a Foreign Language, I have always frowned on my students’ use of the sentence “I have a doubt”.

Judging it a typical case of language transfer, I promptly tell them that they should instead say that they “have a question”.

After coming across the sentence “if students have doubt” in a teacher’s guide, I don’t feel so self-assured as to jump on my students’ phrase anymore.

Any comment on this usage will be greatly appreciated.

Eduardo

Submitted by joachim2  •  January 29, 2005

Indian English: “reach”

Overheard (frequently) in India:

“When will we be there?” “We will reach in a few hours.”

Eh? In America, the verb “to reach” always takes an object. “We will reach our destination in a few hours”. Is this usage limited to the subcontinent, or is it used in the UK as well?

Submitted by tealee2  •  December 23, 2004

Shade & Shadow

I’m puzzled recently by the words ‘shade’ and ‘shadow’. I know the word ‘shade’ can mean the darkness created by leaves. But besides this what other differences between the two words. Waiting for your help, thanks a lot.

Submitted by marta  •  December 14, 2004

According to ME, you, him....

Heyah everybody there! Does a phrase like ‘according to me,...’ really exist in English? Technically speaking, it’s seems possible to have such phrase but as a university student I was told that nobody speaks like that. Also, none of my English dictionaries gives any examples of that kind. Well, we do often hear the instances of ‘according to her/him/reports/Peter/the minister’ ...etc. but not ‘according to me’? Is that so or am I wrong?

Submitted by Dyske  •  December 3, 2004

Murphy’s Law

I thought I’ve always used the expression “Murphy’s Law” correctly, but now a native English speaker cast doubt on my usage. This happens a lot with me. I thought I had been using certain terms correctly for years, and one day, someone tells me that it’s wrong. I correct it, then years later, someone else corrects me again.

The context I used “Murphy’s Law” was this:

In buying more storage space for a computer server, I said the Murphy’s Law is this: Whatever the amount of space you provide, that’s how much people end up using it, because most people are too lazy to properly back up files and delete them off the server. So, the bigger is not always the better. If you provide too much space, you’ll end up with unmanageable amount of data to back up properly.

There are certain phenomena in life where things naturally incline towards the worst case scenario. File storage is one such case. If no one puts pressures on people to back up and delete, the servers usually get full no matter how big it is. Is this a wrong use of “Murphy’s Law”?

Submitted by eduardo  •  December 1, 2004

Water

I sometimes hear about American travelers having trouble ordering water abroad.

Some visiting Europe complain that they’ll get sparkling water or mineral water (!) for their order of... water. These people would then try ordering water “no gas” BUT would get a bottle of non-carbonated water (!?).

I am kind of at loss as to what words I should use when ordering water in the US. I take it that “sparkling” is the word of choice when ordering carbonated water. Are the words “club soda” and “soda water” just as popular?

I have been told that “bottled water” is the expression used to order non-carbonated water. But I am not sure. Do you use “still water” for non-carbonated? Also I don’t get why the people mentioned above 1. referred to carbonated water as mineral (!) and 2. complained that they got “non-carbonated water” for their order of “water ‘no gas’ “.

I’ve tried looking it up only to make matters worse. I know there are a dozen questions all bunched into one message, but could anyone help me set the record straight on this one? I appreciate it.

Submitted by cole  •  November 19, 2004

Usage of “come”

I read this in an article,

“Tape all your screws to your air conditioner, so you’ll have them ready come next season.”

How do you suppose that usage of the word “come” came about? I’ve heard it, but I don’t hear it often.

Submitted by stuart  •  November 11, 2004

The Term “Foreigner”

Is the term ‘foreigner’ still acceptable, if not (as I belive) do we have another word or phrase we can use to refer to people that don’t hail from the speakers home country?

Submitted by charlene  •  November 8, 2004

Different than

This sounds highly ungrammatical to English ears, yet seems to be an increasingly common US usage (cf Br Eng “different from”, “different to”). If it is indeed considered correct, surely this makes the use of the word “than” in this context uniquely non-comparative - in all other cases that I can think of it has a comparative function - eg “faster than an eagle” or even “Icelanders are even more different from average Europeans than the Danish”. American speakers, any comments?

Submitted by itasan  •  October 23, 2004

begin from page 10

Which is correct? 1. Let’s begin from page 10. 2. Let’s begin at page 10. (UK?) 3. Let’s begin on page 10. (US?) Thank you.

Submitted by itasan  •  October 23, 2004

@ mark

Which is correct? 1. ‘at’ mark 2. ‘at’ symbol 3. ‘at’ sign 4. any other? Thank you.

Submitted by elizabethmourer  •  October 15, 2004

Use of Firstly, Secondly, Thirdly, etc.

I have been wondering about the use of these terms, especially when they came up repeatedly in the Presidential Debates. I am taking a Linguistics Class and my Professor asked me to do some research. I don’t even know where to start, what are these terms referred to as, and what are the constraints on their use? They always sound awkward to me when I hear them, but I am starting to realize that that doesn’t mean anything.

Thanks in advance,

Elizabeth

Submitted by speedwell2  •  September 23, 2004

Taking the Name, in vain or in earnest

Thought of one. I’m aware that there is an area of controversy surrounding the capitalization of words in English pertaining to the Divine (What- or Whoever you may think Him, Her or It might be).

Most Christians write “God” and “the Supreme Being.” (Quakers write “the Divine Light.”) Entities worshipped by other religions are referred to as “gods” by Christians. Scientists also refer to the “gods” of various cultures and civilizations.

Modern Pagans write, for example, “the Mother Goddess” and “the Horned God,” or “the Green Man.” Islamic writers write “Allah (blessed be He),” Hindu writers sometimes write “the God” when they are referring to a member of the class of Entities that they worship. Atheists mostly insist on writing “god/goddess/gods,” although I am an exception; I think that usage is nothing more than defiant.

Any time I am asked, I say that it is customary in English to capitalize the name of God and all pronouns referring to Him, no matter what religion the writer happens to profess or not profess. It is no longer a question of respect, but of proper English capitalization.

Commenters, what is your view?

Submitted by jeudi2  •  September 19, 2004

Construction

Hi Everybody!

“The chances for my ever being interrogated were nil, but I nevertheless felt better that way.”

Sounds English?

PS: Ben! Now, I am really confused about future in the past and tense coordination!

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