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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When I first heard the lyrics, “Wake up to reality, use your mentality” I thought that Cole Porter was joking. You don’t use your mentality. You use your mind.
Here’s a list:
Medicine » Medication
Document » Documentation
Reason » Rationality
Mind » Mentality
Transport » Transportation
The list is seemingly endless when one starts looking. My point is that ‘document’, for example, is an official piece of paper. ‘Documentation’ is the furnishing or provision of that piece of paper. ‘Medication’ is the application of medicine.There are those who think it is classy to say “I took the medication” Oh dear me, no. Words have meanings.
Americans tend to believe that the British dislike of ‘transportation’ to mean ‘a bus’ is based on our guilty consciences about shipping convicts to Australia. Actually no, that was a pretty good policy. Where better to send them? ‘Transportation’ was the policy, not the ships.
No doubt there are, legitimately, grey areas but...no, I take it back. I’m not weakening.
So there we are, fellow-pedants. The battle-lines are drawn.
May I finally say how pleasant it is to find this forum, the only place I know of where one can sound of on such subjects without being told to take an aspirin and lie down in a darkened room.
When speaking about wish statements, why is it okay to give the short answer form for an action verb (e.g. snow), but not for be + adjective (e.g. to be sunny).
For example, we say “It won’t rain tomorrow, but I wish it would.”
But, “It won’t be sunny tomorrow, but I wish it would be.”
What is the distinction we make here, or is it just an arbitrary rule that we use be?
The phrase “liquid water” seems to have become very much in vogue with science correspondents in the media. Does the fact that most of us probably view water as being liquid not render this particular neologism redundant, and reveal it as another example of members of the fourth estate, or perhaps the people they interview, trying to be ultra clever? Shall we all now be required to start referring to ice a “solid water” and steam as “gaseous water”?
English (other than American English) has a clear differentiation between the two words. Both are about moving something. In “bring” the something of somebody is moved to where the speaker is currently situated. “Take” is used to indicate moving something or somebody to a place that the speaker is not currently at. I have heard and read examples of these two verbs being confused in a number of American movies and TV shows, and in a number of books by American authors. Jeffrey Deaver is one author guilty of this along with other flaws like misuse of perpendicular, another is George R R Martin in his Song of Ice and Fire series.
For example, in the UK a boy will say to a girl, “May I take you home”. Meaning “may I escort you to your home”, not “would you like to come back to my place”. Whereas in the US “May I bring you home” would be be more common. Similarly, a UK girl might say “Would you take me home please” as opposed to “Would you bring me home please”. Why does this confusion exist and persist?