January 24, 2004  •  max


I’m wondering why people write “men’s bathroom” and use possesive form here and “ladies bathroom” and use just plural noun without apostrophe. If “ladies’ room” (with apostrophe) is correct then why the apostrophe is so often omitted. I don’t think that it’s about laziness because if it were then everyone would write “mens bathroom” which is uncommon.

January 7, 2004  •  nancy

Ann Brashares

I ran across this expression in a novel by A. Brashares, “The cat...MADE MUFFINS on her stomach and curled in for a long stay.” What does “made muffins” mean?

December 21, 2003  •  andy

“Me neither.” or “Me either”

Speaker A: I don’t like going to the beach when it is cold outside. Speaker B: Me neither. According to an english grammar website, speaker B is wrong. “me neither” should be changed to “neither do I” or “me either” I see “me neither” used most frequently on the web. But I think I hear people use “me either” more frequently in speech. Which is correct? Why?

October 23, 2003  •  Dyske

At least, at the least

“At least” and “at the least”, are they identical? Or, do they have different connotations? Or, do they depend on contexts?

October 7, 2003  •  Dyske

Shame on You!

This is not exactly a language thing but when you say “Shame on you!”, you brush your index finger against the other. What does that mean? Where did it come from? What does that symbolize?

October 2, 2003  •  Dyske

Either Is or Am

Which one is correct? Either he or I am a fool. Either he or I is a fool

September 21, 2003  •  cynthia

Doofus vs. idiot

Although my husband, who is French, has spent more than twenty years in the U.S., he still sometimes asks for clarification of obscure linguistic issues. One that I have found to be especially elusive is “doofus.” What is the exact difference, my husband wondered, between a doofus and an idiot? It seems to me that “idiot” can be used to describe any old bonehead, but that a doofus is always male, white, fat, AND stupid. I would be interested in others’ points of view on this topic.

September 21, 2003  •  Dyske

A Jew and Jews

While we are at this racial slur thing: I was told that “He is a Jew” sounds offensive, but “He is Jewish” does not, because the former sounds like a Nazi trying to identify Jews from the rest, which is odd because he would not be speaking English in the first place. To make the matter more confusing, I was told that “They are Jews” is not offensive. Singular is offensive but plural isn’t? You would probably say, “He is American” instead of “He is an American”, but either way it does not sound offensive.

September 17, 2003  •  Dyske


Webster defines “chink” as “narrow opening”. However in California people seem to only think about its derogatory (bigotry) meaning, and only after you press them they recall that “Oh yeah, we actually say ‘chink in the fence’ so that probably makes sense”. Just curious, how widespread is its original meaning - is it only in the Golden State people react like that?

May 22, 2003  •  Dyske

Couldn’t Care Less

A pet peeve of mine is people incorrectly using the expression “I could care less”. I’m no grammar nazi as you can tell from this email, but it doesn’t make sense to say. Here is an example. Rooomate 1: “You suck at this video game. I always kick your butt in it.” Roomate 2: “I could care less.” Roomate 1: “Haha.” If you say you COULD care less then that means you care to some degree. However, if you COULDN’T care less (the proper way of saying the expression) then it means you absolutely don’t care at all, therefore properly expressing your apathy. From Brad Davis

May 8, 2003  •  Dyske

Sister Company

Why sister? Why not “brother company”?

April 29, 2003  •  Dyske

Ranks has or have

In the following sentence, which is correct: has or have. The ranks of the liberal weblog community (has or have) increased by one.

April 25, 2003  •  Dyske

Trouble with Trouble

When is “trouble” a countable noun? In what context, would you say “a trouble” or “troubles”? “He is trouble.” “He gave me a lot of trouble.” In both cases above, I’m tempted to say: “He is a trouble.” “He gave me a lot of troubles.”

April 20, 2003  •  Dyske

War in/on/with Iraq

Every media organization had its pick. The implication for each is quite interesting. 1. War in Iraq: This implies that it is a war that is happening in Iraq, almost as though it just happens to be happening IN Iraq. It manages to stay neutral on the political and ideological stance of the war. 2. War on Iraq: This sounds strong. It is almost equivalent to saying “war against Iraq.” It implies either that the enemy is Iraq as a nation or Iraq as the regime. The latter being the preferred implication of the Bush administration. 3. War with Iraq: Now, what does this imply? “With” is a funny preposition to use, because it makes it sounds friendly, like, “We are doing this together.”

March 20, 2003  •  savgpncl

New phrase with the onset of the Iraqi War

Journalists are now either “embedded with...” or “embedded”. Shouldn’t it be “embedded in a troop?” Not quite sure how this phrase should be used -- it is indeed a terrible replacement for simply saying: “so-and-so is with the 3rd Cavalry division.”

March 18, 2003  •  Dyske

20 Something

I was under the impression that “20 something” meant someone in his/her early 20s. Would a 29 year old be still considered “20 something”? When did this expression start?

February 18, 2003  •  Dyske


What is the difference between: “It has a value.” and “It has value.”

February 11, 2003  •  Dyske

ON the Lower East Side

The newspaper headlines read: “Dell Dude Arrested with Pot ON the Lower East Side” “The Lower East Side” is a name of the neighborhood. You would not say he was arrested ON Chelsea. Why would you use “ON”?

February 5, 2003  •  Dyske

Matching the tense

“I argued that McDonald’s is good for you.” Should it be: “I argued that McDonald’s was good for you.” Do I need to match the tense between “argued” and “Is” or “was”?

February 5, 2003  •  Dyske

Taking sides

It seems odd that you say, “take sides”. Wouldn’t it make more sense to say “take a side”? Why plural?

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