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This is a forum to discuss the gray areas of the English language for which you would not find answers easily in dictionaries or other reference books. You can browse through the latest questions and comments below. If you have a question of your own, please submit it here.

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I recently saw the trailer of “Anne of Green Gables”, and the Marilla character can clearly be heard saying that she is expecting an orphan boy from “Nova Scotia”, but she pronounces that “ti” inn a very strange way. It sounded like “Scothia” or “Scozia”, I couldn’t tell. Is this an alternative pronunciation for the usual “SCO-SHA”?

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Since ye is you’s plural, are yer, ye’re and yers respectively your, you’re and yours pluralized, and/or do they have other plural counterparts?

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Is there an English word that means ‘to fall asleep’? Since there’s a word, ‘awaken’, that denotes ‘to wake up’, I’m wondering if ‘awaken’’s antonym exists.

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Can every letter in the English language be used in a silent way? Like the b in numb? But at least one example for all 26 letters. Kind of a nerdy question but has anyone succeeded? I have tried and failed... Don’t ask why!

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Americans typically make fun of Canadians, claiming that “out and about” is pronounced as “oot and aboot” (personally I can’t hear it). So if that is the case, what do Americans hear when Canadians actually say “oot and aboot”? What does Canadian “boot” sound like to an American?

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Is conversate a word? Many people use it and some people claim it’s not a word but I found it on online dictionaries.

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I want to write as follows, but it is confusing.:

This modern society, which is increasingly being globalized and opening to the world, demands the attitude of understanding different countries and respecting different culture on the basis of broad knowledge of various places of the world of students of this era.

The above ‘s structure is as follows:

The modern society demands something of somebody.

Here, something is [the attitude of understanding different countries and respecting different culture on the basis of broad knowledge of various places of the world], and somebody is [students of this era]

The setence structure can be simplified as follows:

This modern society, which is increasingly being globalized and opening to the world, demands [the attitude of understanding different countries and respecting different culture on the basis of broad knowledge of various places of the world] of [students of this era].

I am not sure in such a case, how I should write it. One solutin may be this?

This modern society, which is increasingly being globalized and opening to the world, demands, of [students of this era], [the attitude of understanding different countries and respecting different culture on the basis of broad knowledge of various places of the world].

Please help me, thank you very much.

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Heard this in park: Whose car is it? It is one of his girlfriends.

If it were just: It is one of his girlfriend’s, or: It is one of his girlfriends’, it might be easier to interpret this sentence.

As it was said, there are several degrees of uncertainty involved. Can you guess how many?

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I’m trying to apply a consistent style to a teacher training website and am battling the Capital Letter Police on a few issues.

I’ve culled capital letters for nouns such as “teacher” and “headteacher” unless we refer it as part of a job title.

Now I am left with names of meetings and forms that have traditionally been capitalised, but I’m not sure they need to be. Should such things be capitalised if they are being discussed generally? Eg:

“You should undertake three observed teaching sessions each year and keep a record of the feedback received on a teaching feedback form.”

or

“You should undertake three Observed Teaching Sessions each year and keep a record of the feedback received on a Teaching Feedback Form.”

And: “Download a teaching feedback form (link to PDF).” or “Download a Teaching Feedback Form (link to PDF).”

Any advice?

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How is the past tense of text PRONOUNCED? “Texted” It is said as “text-ed” in a bank’s TV commercial and sounds so inappropriate to me. Why wouldn’t it be pronounced “texted”? Does anyone know the rule on this one? Why would one say “they just text-ed me back...” sounds like ill use of the verb to me!

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eat vs. have breakfast

To " have " breakfast is to " eat " and "drink" something.
To " eat" breakfast is to only eat something.
Thus, have is more convenient and makes more sense to use, especially when you're teaching ESL students.

@jtu
I rest my case.

@HS I don't recall being taught anything about collective nouns plus singular verbs at school; perhaps it was taught and I was so busy daydreaming about our French conversation mistress at the time and worrying about my sinful thoughts that I missed it. Presumably your syllabus was different or you were more attentive.

@jtu
I just have one more question:
Do you, and those who share your thoughts on issues like this, believe that those of us who attended schools and universities prior to 1965 should forget all that we learned about the English language in that time and adopt the various fads and errors that have become commonplace since then?

@jtu
That is a typical descriptivist cop out.
Your use of "different to" illustrates that you are firmly in the camp of those who just like to be different for the sake of being different and who have absolutely no respect for the language.
No doubt you will soon be advocating the use of "should of" as a correct alternative to "should have" and that perpendicular just means at right angles with no regard to plane.
How do you stand on mixing up past tense and past participle?

Whether it is "correct" or not would hinge upon the criteria used. However if "people who are apparently reasonably well educated" persistently and knowingly use words such as "family" with a plural verb, despite "what has been taught for decades in schools in the UK and elsewhere", there must be a good reason, they must feel comfortable doing so, and editors do not automatically edit such constructions out. If you feel uncomfortable with this, then your eduction or background or thinking must be different to theirs.

@jtu
"@HS It's not just Jane Austen:
http://www.google.co.nz/search?q=%22the+family+...

Does that makes it correct?

@jtu
Are you saying that Jane Austen could not have been wrong?

You know, it really surprises me that people who are apparently reasonably well educated seek to gainsay what has been taught for decades in schools in the UK and elsewhere.
It's a bit like the old lady watching troops marching past and exclaiming, "They're all out of step bar our Willie".

@HS You have not actually explained Jane Austen's use of 'family' - a "collective" noun - with a plural verb, which seems contrary to your opening post: 'Despite arguments to the contrary, "family" is a collective noun, and I don't care how many family members there might be, it therefore gets a singular verb.'