August 5, 2009  •  jayd

obstinacy vs. obstinancy

I’ve seen both of these words used to describe a person’s stubbornness. Obstinacy seeming to come from obstinate, and obstinancy seeming to derive from obstinant. Which is the correct form of the word, and is there some sort of subtle difference between the two?

July 31, 2009  •  franka

46 year old heated Caribbean debate

Good Day All, I live in Trinidad and Tobago and for the last 46 years there’s been an argument about a point of grammar in our National Anthem. The last line is (what we learn in kindergarden): “Here every creed and race FIND an equal place” Some say this is grammatically correct. Others argue that it should be, “Here every creed and race FINDS an equal place”. Thousands of Letters to the Editor have been written arguing about this issue. Anyone care to help us solve this dilemma?

July 30, 2009  •  johnkoh

a long sentence with the verb “demand”

I want to write as follows, but it is confusing.: This modern society, which is increasingly being globalized and opening to the world, demands the attitude of understanding different countries and respecting different culture on the basis of broad knowledge of various places of the world of students of this era. The above ‘s structure is as follows: The modern society demands something of somebody. Here, something is [the attitude of understanding different countries and respecting different culture on the basis of broad knowledge of various places of the world], and somebody is [students of this era] The setence structure can be simplified as follows: This modern society, which is increasingly being globalized and opening to the world, demands [the attitude of understanding different countries and respecting different culture on the basis of broad knowledge of various places of the world] of [students of this era]. I am not sure in such a case, how I should write it. One solutin may be this? This modern society, which is increasingly being globalized and opening to the world, demands, of [students of this era], [the attitude of understanding different countries and respecting different culture on the basis of broad knowledge of various places of the world]. Please help me, thank you very much.

July 26, 2009  •  mikesheehan

“on the day”

Normally, I would say “Williams had 4 singles for the day,” but many sportscasters use “ON the day” instead. Does anyone know the origin of this use? The editor of an online baseball encyclopedia had no idea, so I’m not sure where to go for an answer.

July 24, 2009  •  stan

Pled versus pleaded

Anyone notice the banishment of “pled” about 5 years or so ago? The newspapers used to say “The defendant pled not guilty.” Suddenly, everything became “pleaded.” I contend that this is an improper imposition of some kind of twisted “grammar correctness,” except it is incorrect. “Pled” is a less emotional word than “pleaded”. I plead when I am begging for something. Unless the defendant is on his knees weeping, he is not pleading, he is entering a plea. In the past tense, he pled, not pleaded. What do you think?

July 19, 2009  •  tracy

on “condition”

I’m a new editor and am confused about the use of “condition”. If it is used to describe a strict experimental condition, is only “on condition that” can be used, but not “under the conditions of”? A senior editor tells me that the latter can not be used to describe experimental conditions, and if one really wants to use it, he/she should change the prep. into “on”. However, there is no such saying as “on the conditions that” in a dictionary(Longman). Looking forward to correct explanation.

July 16, 2009  •  lisabedell

“The next stop will be...”

On the DC Metro, we are told: “The next stop will be X”. When will the next stop be x? I’m pretty sure the next stop *is* X!

June 29, 2009  •  Dyske

Word for Showing Off Your MacBook at Cafe — Mac off

Have you noticed that, at trendy cafes, more than half of the laptop computers you see are the new MacBooks? (Well, at least in New York City.) I don’t mean any MacBook; I’m talking about the latest MacBook (”the brick”). In fact, I believe seeing the older versions of MacBooks is rarer than seeing PC laptops. If these people are deciding to work at cafes for practical reasons, then the laptop demographic should be much more diverse, with a lot more PCs and older versions of MacBook, but this is not what I see. The demographic is heavily skewed towards the latest models of MacBook. So, I would have to conclude that the reason why these MacBook owners come out to cafes is because they want to show off their brand new MacBooks. It would makes sense, therefore, to coin a term for showing off your MacBook at a cafe. I’ve struggled with this for a while, and this morning, I decided that it should be “Mac off”. “Hey, honey. I’m gonna go Mac off at the Starbucks for a few hours, OK?” “At a cafe in Williamsburg, I saw about a dozen people sitting in a row Mac’ing off.” “I bought the new MacBook Pro last week, but I haven’t Mac’ed off yet.”

June 28, 2009  •  Dyske

Word for Stroller Toppling Over

If you have a kid and a stroller, I’m sure you’ve experienced this many times. You hang a lot of stuff from the handle of the stroller, and when the kid jumps out of it, the whole thing topples over. One of my friends wants a word for this (a verb). I tried to think of one, but I couldn’t come up with a good one. (”Stropple”, for instance, isn’t so good because the sound of it lacks the impact of the actual event.) Can anyone think of one?

June 15, 2009  •  Dyske

Word for Twitter Whores?

Is there a word to describe a Twitter user who follows everyone in an attempt to get them to follow him? Now, I’m getting a regular stream of them. When you look at their profiles, they have hundreds of followers. It’s just not possible or practical to read that many tweets every day. Obviously they are not reading anything; they just want you to read their tweets. It’s a marketing ploy.

June 10, 2009  •  chris2

Plural proper nouns ending in consonant-y

What about proper nouns as in team mascots? Our school mascot is a Grizzly. Would students be Grizzlies or Grizzlys? Since it’s a school’s mascot I’d like for it to be correct, but for the last 20 years it’s been spelled Grizzlies. I believe that spelling to be incorrect. Academic input please:o)

June 9, 2009  •  egkg

Plural of “insurance”?

I heard an ad on the radio recently for a company that performs medical procedures. At the end they said “We accept all major insurances.” That didn’t sound quite right to me, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard the plural of the word “insurance”. If it were me, I would’ve said “We accept all major insurance plans.” Am I right that there is no plural form of the word? On a related note, I’ve heard, mostly on TV news shows, “damages” a lot. I know that the word exists, meaning a monetary judgement awarded by a court, but they used it when they meant “damage”. For example, “Due to the ice storm, many damages were done to homes,” or “The car suffered severe damages from the accident.” This is improper usage, correct?

June 9, 2009  •  monkey

As of

I am wondering how to use the phrase ‘as of’ correctly. I learnt from my daily email communications with native English speakers that the phrase could mean “from”, “on/at” or “by the end of”. However, the last sense was not found in Oxford English Dictionary or Merriam Webster’s online edition. That made me quite puzzled. Examples may speak louder than theories. “As of yesterday, we had finished three tasks.” Is this usage correct and does it mean the same thing as “by the end of yesterday, we had finished three tasks”? Thanks.

June 4, 2009  •  Dyske

Someone else’s

Is “someone else’s” grammatically correct? Every time I type, the spell-checker reminds me that it’s wrong. There are a lot of discussions online about “passers-by” vs. “passer-bys”. The general consensus, from what I saw, is that the former is more correct. If this is true, shouldn’t it be “someone’s else”? I personally feel that “passer-bys” is more correct, especially when you remove the hyphen (”passerbys”). It’s more consistent with other words like “blastoffs” and “playoffs”.

May 26, 2009  •  richie

“independence from” or “independence to”?

I have a feeling I’ll look at this again in a while and find the answer screamingly obvious. Do these parallel the form of “independent” exactly? As “independence of” seems really wrong, though “independent of” seems ok. I’m confused.

May 23, 2009  •  karlb

My mother wishes my child be like me.

I heard this sentence on radio or TV and while it seems correct grammatically, I believe the verb be is in the subjunctive mode, somehow it did not feel colloquial. Any comments?

May 21, 2009  •  tomolonight

Infinitive without “to”

What is an infinitive without “to”? He need not wait. or He needs not wait. Can you explain more about this?

May 15, 2009  •  Dyske

Peter thins them out

This Japanese program claims that Peter Pan regularly killed children when they grew too old. Here is the paragraph from the original book by James Matthew Barrie: All wanted blood except the boys, who liked it as a rule, but to-night were out to greet their captain. The boys on the island vary, of course, in numbers, according as they get killed and so on; and when they seem to be growing up, which is against the rules, Peter thins them out; but at this time there were six of them, counting the twins as two. The controversial phrase here is “thins them out”. How would you interpret it?

May 14, 2009  •  Dyske

One of the most...

In one of the discussions here, Brian W. tells me that the following sentence is wrong: “This is one of the most common errors people make…” He says it should be: “One of the more common…” He explains: Proper use of ‘most’ requires the size of the set in which the subject is a member: “one of the 10 most.” Without a numeric qualifier, all but the last are potentially included in the set “one of the most.” That (unfortunately) makes it as meaningful as “up to 10… or more!” Now, is this a grammatical issue or stylistic issue? I see “one of the most” being used quite often. As a side note, in Japanese, “one of the most” would be an oxymoron because the concept of “most” implies that it is at the top of the list, that is, there is only one thing that could be “most” or “best”. I remember feeling awkward about the phrase “one of the most” when I was first learning English.

May 7, 2009  •  karlb

“It is one of his girlfriends.”

Heard this in park: Whose car is it? It is one of his girlfriends. If it were just: It is one of his girlfriend’s, or: It is one of his girlfriends’, it might be easier to interpret this sentence. As it was said, there are several degrees of uncertainty involved. Can you guess how many?

  13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21  

Recently Discussed

waiting on  —September 1, 2015, 9:06am

North or northern  —August 27, 2015, 7:06am

Resume, resumé, or résumé?  —August 25, 2015, 4:19pm

Word in question: Conversate  —August 17, 2015, 4:24am

“all but” - I hate that expression!  —August 14, 2015, 6:10am

Why do we have “formal” English?   —August 13, 2015, 9:21pm