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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Is there any defense of capitalizing after a semicolon? This reads well to me:
We do not sell tricycles; We sell velocipedes.
Learn the difference.
Not capitalizing the first word of the second clause diminishes the perceived parallelism:
We do not sell tricycles; we sell velocipedes.
The store around the corner sells bicycles.
With a period between them, the first two clauses read like the premises of a syllogism:
We do not sell tricycles. We sell velocipedes.
Do we sell unicycles?
I will continue, of course, to pen as I please, but, in this instance, wonder if I can confidently publish as I please.
My evening of horror transpired as follows:
While sharing a bottle of wine with my girlfriend I was stupid enough to posit why it was that I had taken such a huge interest in blues music.
“Why, because it’s accessible to your mediocre guitar skills,” she said, “and when your skills improve you switch to real music, like classical guitar”.
“Well then, I hope, once your skills improve in belly dance you’ll switch to real dance,” I responded, “besides it is a misnomer that blues is ‘simple music’!”
Now, my meaning here was that blues music has been historically labeled and designated as “simple music” in order to mislead people into thinking that African-Americans, from whom the music generated, are not capable of anything complex and so somebody will say, “I love blacks because they play ‘simple music’!”
My girlfriend claims English superiority because she went to college and has been told she has a greater grasp on the language than it’s inventors, so she informed me that I had incorrectly used the word “misnomer”. According to her, what I should have said was that ‘simple music’ was a ‘misconception’ and not a ‘misnomer’. I can see the angle she is coming from and, in all honesty, I barely graduated high school, but I am sure that in this instance I am correct. My point was that blues was “misnamed” or “mislabeled” in order to mislead and not if it is actually simple music (I obviously believe that it is not and I am improving at guitar, so hopefully one day I will be able to tell).
In any case, I am currently sleeping on the couch. Is she correct or is it my “belly dance isn’t real dance” that has me on the couch?
Please help me.
Mr. On the Couch Blues
I beg you not to yell at me about any grammar mistake I may have just made. I finished the bottle of wine by myself and I really just want to be right about this one thing.
Can clauses be misplaced because I always thought that they were superordinate of that. While searching for math accuplacer questions, I was given a set of problems, which I did not want, and, in boredom, did the first one and was wrong. The question was this:
Select the best substitute for the parenthesized parts of the following ten sentences. The first answer [choice A] is identical to the original sentence. If you think the original sentence is best, then choose A as your answer.
Although she was only sixteen years old, (the university accepted her application because of her outstanding grades).
A. the university accepted her application because of her outstanding grades.
B. her application was accepted by the university because of her outstanding grades.
C. her outstanding grades resulted in her application being accepted by the university.
D. she was accepted to study at the university after applying because of her outstanding grades.
I chose A, but it said D was the correct answer on these grounds:
The clause Although she was only sixteen years old describes the characteristics of the female student. Remember that clauses always need to be followed by the name of the person or thing they are describing. Therefore, “she” needs to come after this clause.
So, to reiterate, is there such a thing as misplaced clauses?
What would be the preferred form of each of these:-
a) “in hopes of” or “in the hope of”
b) “a change in plans” or “a change of plan”
c) “apprise” or “inform”
d) “envision” or “envisage”
I favour the second of each of the above, but no doubt there will be different opinions.
“I intend on doing something about that”
Just came across this in the latest Baldacci novel.
First time I’ve seen this particular form so I’m not sure if it was a slip by author, editor, proof-reader, typesetter, or all of the above; or is it common in some parts of the English speaking world?
I’d think that “I intend to do ...........” or “I am intent on doing .........” would be the normal form.
I’d like to go back to an old question which was discussed here in 2011. What is the correct preposition to use with “different?”
Every time I hear the BBC’s “different to” it grates on me. I distinctly remember my 6th Grade teacher, Mrs. Murphy, explaining to us that “different” takes “from” because in arithmetic, when you subtract one number from another you obtain a difference. Her analogy was faulty, of course; but her grammar was correct. The abuse she was trying to correct was “different than.” I never heard “different to” until relatively recently, on the BBC World Service.
The consensus of the 2011 discussion seemed to be that “different to” is British usage and “different from” is American.
Well – yes and no. I’ve gone through some quotation websites looking for 19th and early 20th century British examples and could find not one “different to.” They all use “different from.”
I did also find this, however, from the 1908 edition of Fowler’s “The King’s English.”
“. . .’different to’ is regarded by many newspaper editors and others in authority as a solecism, and is therefore better avoided by those to whom the approval of such authorities is important. It is undoubtedly gaining ground, and will probably displace ‘different from’ in no long time; perhaps, however, the conservatism that still prefers from is not yet to be named pedantry.
Well, that was prescient – if you concede that 100 years counts as “no long time” when it comes to the English language.
(In response to some of those 2011 posts which mentioned “more different than” as an acceptable use of “different than”: in that case “than” refers to “more” not “different.”)
Since when did “concerning” become an adjective meaning “causing concern?” I first noticed it in the New York Times sometime earlier this year. Now it’s being used both in the media and in everyday conversation as if it had been around forever. Yet the usage is not mentioned in either my 1971 abridged edition of the OED or my trusty 1980 New World Dictionary. Should we just accept this new word as an example of the English language moving on? Or is it concerning?
Why, in English, do we say ‘hey’ as a conversation starter? Why not hello? According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, hey is “used especially to call attention or to express interrogation, surprise, or exultation”. It does not mention any connection to the word hello. Why then, do we so often hear hey substituted for hello? Whether talking on the phone, texting, or just trying to make small talk in person, everyone always seems to begin with hey, even when you are already talking to the person and you don’t need their attention. My best guess is that is probably another development in our ever-changing language that came about over time, but does anyone know how this connotation came to be?
I watched some movies over the weekend, and by doing so some questions arose regarding the use of who and whom.
In the movie “Prometheus” one of the main characters is describing the reason of traveling to a planet so far away from earth, and a suporting character says: “We are here because of a map you two kids found in a cave?” - “Not a map, an invitation” - “From who?”
Now, I think the guy is asking for the object. Is he not? Also, I understand that whom must be used after a preposition. Then shouldn’t it be “from whom”?
In the movie “X-Men: First Class” two CIA agents are conversing and the following dialogue takes place: “A war is about to begin.” - “I know. But a war with who?” Same as the other one: Shouldn’t “whom” be used here? “with” is also a preposition, and he is also asking for the object.