September 2, 2010  •  meghan

Use of obscure words like “ebulliate”

What do you think about using obscure and out-of-use words, such as “ebulliate”? You won’t find it on dictionary.com or even if you google it, but it is in the OED and appears to be a verb-form of “ebullient,” which, of course, is a commonly used word today. My vote was to use it because, hey, it is a word, why confine myself to commonly used words, if we don’t keep up or revive the more obscure words then we’ll lose them forever, and worse, we’ll be overrun by new words being invented not in a smart Joycean fashion but rather inspired by the world of texting and internet chatting fashion. This thought works for phrases like “might could,” too, which I used even though some of your commenters had negative things to say about it. But my question really is whether it is ok to use obscure words when it’s likely no one knows it/them and unless the reader has access to the OED, which most people don’t, and won’t be able to define it/them, but can probably figure out the meaning from the context of the sentence.

August 30, 2010  •  fred2

Comparisons and Superlatives of Colours

In English, there are comparisons and superlatives for some colours. Take for example: black, blacker, blackest; blue, bluer, bluest. How about other colours like silver and gold/golden?

August 12, 2010  •  egon

Interrogative use of perhaps/maybe

Is it technically incorrect to use “maybe” in an interrogative sentence? Or to make an indefinite statement (with “maybe” or “perhaps” in it) interrogative? ‘Maybe we just need to add some more salt?’ -- Is it incorrect to use a question mark here? Technically, I guess, it’s a statement, so it shouldn’t take a question mark, but in natural speech it can come across as a question (you’re *asking* if we should use more salt) and a question mark at the end can reflect this. But maybe that’s just plain wrong? (← Like this.) Actually, that’s not a great example... What I really want to know is whether or not it is always incorrect to use “maybe/perhaps” interrogatively in formal written English. Any thoughts?

August 9, 2010  •  shaunc

Canadian pronunciation of “out and about”

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?

August 5, 2010  •  melania

anything vs. everything

What is the difference between writing “Find anything again” and “Find everything again”? My feeling is that “everything” has a more positive connotation.

July 24, 2010  •  donnahansen

It is you who are/is ...

I was talking with someone via Facebook. I thought she was wrong, and she wrote back to me: “No, Donna, it is you who are wrong”. Had she left out the word “who” then I believe “are” would be correct, but since she included the word “who” then it changes to singular “you” which would require the word “is”. I believe it shoud read “No, Donna, it is you who is wrong”. Please help me on this grammatical issue.

July 22, 2010  •  alant

He and I, me and him

I know that the proper order for a nominative series of nouns including the speaker is “John and I,” but what about for the objective? “Mrs. Smith taught me and John,” or, “Mrs. Smith taught John and me”? The same goes for prepositions, “Mrs. Smith taught chemistry to me and John,” vs. “Mrs. Smith taught chemistry to John and me.” Also, does whether one uses the objective pronoun or the reflexive pronoun affect the order? “I taught John and myself,” vs, “I taught myself and John.”

July 21, 2010  •  demisty

Really happy or real happy

I think when used as an adverb or adjective, the word should be really, as in “She is really happy.” Real is equivalent to true, or genuine, or actual whereas really is equivalent to the word very. Is it correct to use real as an adverb or adjective in this way?

July 20, 2010  •  barnes

Plural of Yes

How do I correctly write YES as a plural. Example: # of Yes’s.

July 20, 2010  •  mike3

Team names — singular or plural

Watching the World Cup recently has prompted me to ask: Why do the announcers refer to teams as if they are plural? For instance, “England are on the attack.” I think it should be “England is on the attack,” as we are referring to the English team which is a single unit and therefore singular?

July 14, 2010  •  shaunc

“Anglish”

Has anyone come across “Anglish”? Anglish or Saxon is described as “...a form of English linguistic purism, which favours words of native (Germanic) origin over those of foreign (mainly Romance and Greek) origin.” Does anybody have an opinion or thoughts on “Anglish”...

June 28, 2010  •  devind

Oh it’s... “Free”?

While on vacation during the first week of summer, I came across an advertisement for the H1N1 Vaccine on the back of a coach bus. It stated “Get your ‘free’ H1N1 vaccine today!” This begs the question, does putting quotation marks around “Free” (but not as a quotation, of course) serve any function or purpose? Such as: All these hot dogs are “free”.

June 27, 2010  •  dan2

Origin of insincere “oh wait”

I’ve noticed the phrase “oh wait” being used insincerely/sarcastically, to make a point. For example: “DOW 10,000!!!! Oh Wait, Make That 7,537.” What is the origin of this sort of usage of “oh wait”?

June 23, 2010  •  debbied

The following is... vs. Following is...

In the interest of being concise, is it acceptable to use “Following is a complete list of tags...” instead of “The following is a complete list of tags...”

June 19, 2010  •  elizabethingram

“she” vs “her”

I was speaking to my administrator and explaining how I met another person in our company. I said “her and I traveled to Kansas together”. She stopped me and said it should be “she and I traveled to Kansas together”. I feel both were appropriate, but she disagreed. Could we both be correct?

June 17, 2010  •  penguin

There was/were a pen and three pencils...

There was a pen and three pencils on the table or There were a pen and three pencils on the table. In this example, the singular noun must precede the plural noun. Which verb is the correct one?

June 11, 2010  •  kathleen

“sources of” vs. “the source of”

Consider a scenario where a bloodstain was discovered and analyzed. It was determined the blood came from a single source. Joe is not the source of the blood. Jack is not the source of the blood. Which of the following statements is correct and why? Joe and Jack are excluded as SOURCES of the blood. Joe and Jack are excluded as THE SOURCE of the blood.

May 30, 2010  •  laichensiang

“His being chosen” vs. “His having been chosen”

“His being chosen as a headmaster have surprised us.” Is the sentence above right? Do I have to change the gerund to: “His having been chosen as a headmaster have surprised us.”

May 24, 2010  •  suzelp

spay, not spade

When one has rendered a female animal unable to bear young, one spays the animal. If it happened last week, the animal was spayed. Over and over, including in vets’ offices, I have seen references to “getting an animal spade,” and even worse, “We had our cat spaded.” I don’t know what that would be: Hit over the head with a small shovel-like object?

May 5, 2010  •  devind

A piece of irony

I find myself lately having to resist the compulsion to correct those around me when I hear the term ignorant used in the wrong, ever-persisting way. Example: “What a loser: he just tripped himself playing soccer!” “Uggh, jerk, don’t make fun of him! You’re ignorant.” (sometimes pronounced “ignert” in my local area) Anyone else happen to run into this problem as frequently as I do?

  9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17  

Recently Discussed

Victorian Era English  —December 18, 2014, 1:57am

Who/whom, copular verbs, and the infinitive  —December 17, 2014, 5:34pm

“Anglish”  —December 17, 2014, 12:42pm

“I’ve got” vs. “I have”  —December 16, 2014, 4:36pm

Quotation Marks in Parenthetical Statement  —December 16, 2014, 9:23am

3 Laning?  —December 13, 2014, 5:11pm

“Zen” as an Adjective  —December 12, 2014, 12:04pm

deliberately mispelled (sp!)  —December 6, 2014, 1:54pm

“Watching on”?  —December 6, 2014, 10:31am

God only knew  —December 4, 2014, 10:55pm