Submitted by sarah  •  July 15, 2005

“gain by”

Is it true for others that you lose all logic and sense after editing too much in one sitting? Hope I’m not alone!

I want to switch “from” to “by,” but then when I asked myself if you could really gain “by” something, I wasn’t too certain of my answer. Some reassurance or recommendations would be terrific! Thanks to all of you as always! ~s

“I gained expertise in effective communication as a project director in Ecuador and in Mexico, from negotiating in professional settings, meeting with my staff, and presenting to volunteers.”

Submitted by goossun  •  June 19, 2005


What does this joke mean? “Utility knickers - one Yank, and they’re off.” I’ve heard it in the movie, Enigma by Michael Apted and have no idea what that refers to. There was nothing in the context that could help either. By the way, the story takes place during the World War II (if you haven’t seen the movie.)

Submitted by naokimurahashi2  •  June 16, 2005


“Suddenly he heard something that was not imagination.”

If I add “could hear” to this sentence instead of “heard”, how do you feel? Is it strange? I would like to ask your opinions and reasons.

Submitted by degustibus  •  June 15, 2005

“I am so not XYZ”

Anyone got an idea about the way this expression originated?

eg, “I am so not going there.”

Others googled: I am so NOT looking forward to that! I am so not a man. I am SO not surprised. I am so not prepare[d] for this Exams. I am so totally dead. [sic]

There’s a discussion here

Is “I am so not prepared for this meeting” functionally equivalent to “I am unprepared for this meeting.”

Perhaps it’s a matter of informal (or slang) vs formal expression.

Submitted by matthammond  •  June 5, 2005

The Only One I Ever Wanted

Why does it sound correct to say or hear “the only one I ever wanted”, but sound incorrect when saying “the one I ever wanted”? What is the secret of this little four letter word, “only”? There was a pop song out a few years back that used the latter phrase, and although it sounded so awful to my ears, I couldn’t really think of any reason that it was technically incorrect.

Submitted by naokimurahashi  •  May 16, 2005

Questions for native speakers

I am university student, and take a seminar in a third grade. In the class, we were given assignments, which is we check on how native speakers feel or think about the following questions. So I would like to ask your opinions. Could you answer the following questions?

1. “The plane must land in a few minute.” When you read this sentence, what kind of situation do you imagine? I’d like to know the meaning of “must” in this sentence. So what kind of meaning does the “must” include?

2. In the same way, how about “He can seem so sane.”?

3. What is the difference among Look, See and Watch?

4. “He could hear the phone ringing on the other end but no one answered.” In this sentence, do you think the phone rang straight? Does “can/could + feeling verb” mean an instant or a moment situation.

Thank you very much for your time, and I’m looking forward to your opinions.

Submitted by ccourt  •  May 13, 2005

You Joking Me?

I have a friend insistent on saying the phrase “You gotta be joking me” when I think he should be saying “You have to be kidding me”.

Does anyone know anyone else who says this and can you tell me how wrong it is?

Submitted by enkida  •  May 4, 2005

“Sic” or “Sick” something on someone?

There’s a slang expression in English which I don’t know how to spell correctly. The phrase would be used (phoentically) like this:

“I’m gonna sic the cops on you for doing that!”

meaning “I am going to report to the police what you did, and you will presumably be punished for doing it.”

Now I’ve seen internet kids using this phrase left and right, and I have seen it consistently spelled

“SICK” --> “I’m gonna sick the cops on you!”

It’s slang, so I’ve looked, but I can’t find the answer in a dictionary anywhere. But it’s driving me nutty, because I always thought it was spelled “sic” and not “sick.”

Is there a proper answer to this question, and if so, does anyone have it?


Submitted by ely  •  April 27, 2005

me or I

A group of us were discussing the use of “me” and “I”. Which of these sentences is correct? “My mother bought some sweets for me and my sister.” or “My mother bought some sweets for my sister and I.” thanks for your help in advance.

Submitted by marta  •  March 18, 2005

politics in the kitchen...

Could any cooking expert explain to me what the phrase: “goulash communism” might mean?

Submitted by marta  •  March 15, 2005

tv + video + dvd = ?

Is there any nice and succinct word for the audio-video set that comprises of a tv, video and/or dvd and which people often have at their homes?

Submitted by Dyske  •  March 9, 2005

We, I, or my wife had a baby?

As a father of a newborn, do I say:

1. We had a baby. 2. I had a baby. 3. My wife had a baby.

Which one is it?

Submitted by slemmet  •  February 19, 2005

my being vs me being

I have never understood why people say stuff like “Can my car be repossessed _without my being warned_?”. In my ears it should be “without me being warned”. Heck I would even prefer “without I being warned”. The only explanation I can come up, given that “my” is possessive, is that “being” is a noun which refers to you as a mortal being. But that doesn’t make much sense in the sentence since “being” is used as the verb. For it to work it would have to be “without my being getting warned”, or “without my being being warned”.

Am I right that this is just badly evolved english (although seemingly legitimate today) or am I missing something here ?

Submitted by eduardo2  •  February 9, 2005

Sunday best

Is the expression “Sunday best” (=one’s best clothes) still used currently?

Submitted by joachim2  •  January 29, 2005


I’ve heard the word “immediately” used in British English in a way that sounds quite strange to my American ears. I wonder whether anyone has any insight about why it’s used differently.

I believe it is considered grammatically correct in the UK to say something like “I left immediately I got the address”. In America you might say “I left as soon as I got the address” or “I left immediately AFTER I got the address” but in any event, a preposition would be required. Why not in England? And what do the Australians have to say about this?

Submitted by marco  •  January 27, 2005

Worst Case or Worse Case

Anyone have an explanation on this expression? The proper english indicates it should read “Worst-case scenario”. However the vocal sound is “Worse-case scenario”. Is there a proper way?

Submitted by apey  •  January 3, 2005

Fair Enough

Is there any meaningful difference between “fair enough” and “good enough?” Is “fair” in this context a degree of quality (good-fair-poor-bad) or does it denote fairness in a judicial sense?Thank you!

Submitted by olga  •  December 23, 2004

Jigsaw evidence

Hallo, Could you please explain to me the meaning of the expression “jigsaw evidence” as I really don’t have a clue what it can mean. It is apparently a figurative expression, but its meaning is all vague to me. The sentence runs as follows: Adopting the cost–benefit analysis technique could be a useful analytical framework for presenting the final jigsaw of evidence.

thank u :)

Submitted by johnson  •  December 21, 2004

State of the Art

I know that the expression “State of the Art” means “the best or most up to date” but does anyone know how this phrase ended up with this meaning ?

If you break down the words within the phrase it seems to have no bearing on its current usage ie it could be reconstructed to say “what state is the art in”, as in what condition is the art in but there is no word within the phrase that implies good quality or the best of ?

Any suggestions ?

Johnson, Samuel

Submitted by marta  •  December 21, 2004

Zorbing? What’s that?

Has anybody ever heard of ‘zorbing’? It’s supposed to be the name for a new type of an extreme sport. Could any x-treme sport lover explain to me what it is and where this kind of sport is done, please? It must be a sort of a neologism, I guess, as it’s not listed in the majority of dictionaries.By the way, does anyone know where this word comes from?

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