April 9, 2009  •  amberb

Most-Populous vs. Most-Populated

For some reason most-populous just doesn’t sound right when used in a sentence. Most-populated makes more sense to me. Here is the sentence that it’s used in for context. “BLANK is the public health care system for the nation’s third most-populous county.” Any help on the usage of these 2 phrases would be much appreciated. Thank you in advance!

April 7, 2009  •  sara2

Wet vs. Whet

I know the difference between ‘wet’ and ‘whet’, but my question is about the idiom “to wet/whet one’s appetite.” I’ve seen it both ways, but ‘whet’, to me, seems to be the most appropriate word. Which one is it?

March 26, 2009  •  tom

Speaking with negations

What is the reason that I often hear educated people (and so much of the old research material I’m using) speak using negations. Many people also advise this style of speech/writing. I’m referring to things like “Not dissimilar from...” or “Not unfriendly...” Why? I can understand in some situations where a thing is not binary; if it is not A that does not mean it is B. However, I have heard it used for some things that just seem utterly stupid. I mean on the level of “The TV is not off...,” it can only be one other thing can’t it? Am I missing something?

March 10, 2009  •  biz

On Tomorrow

After moving from Chicago down to northeastern Georgia, I have noticed an extremely vexing trend among many of the native Southerners. The phrase “on tomorrow,” i.e. “We will have a staff meeting on tomorrow.” The first time I heard this spoken out loud I assumed it was a mistake; when I continued to hear the words spoken from several different, well-educated, people I assumed it must be dialectal. “On yesterday” has also found itself crept into everyday conversation... Has anyone ever heard (or spoken) such a phrase? Is this a Southern thing? It just sounds unnatural to me and I do not understand why it is deemed necessary to put the preposition in front of tomorrow (and sometimes yesterday). “We will have a staff meeting tomorrow” sounds just fine to me.

March 10, 2009  •  missmass

Defining a proper noun

I’m trying to apply a consistent style to a teacher training website and am battling the Capital Letter Police on a few issues. I’ve culled capital letters for nouns such as “teacher” and “headteacher” unless we refer it as part of a job title. Now I am left with names of meetings and forms that have traditionally been capitalised, but I’m not sure they need to be. Should such things be capitalised if they are being discussed generally? Eg: “You should undertake three observed teaching sessions each year and keep a record of the feedback received on a teaching feedback form.” or “You should undertake three Observed Teaching Sessions each year and keep a record of the feedback received on a Teaching Feedback Form.” And: “Download a teaching feedback form (link to PDF).” or “Download a Teaching Feedback Form (link to PDF).” Any advice?

March 5, 2009  •  maggiefisher

Texted

How is the past tense of text PRONOUNCED? “Texted” It is said as “text-ed” in a bank’s TV commercial and sounds so inappropriate to me. Why wouldn’t it be pronounced “texted”? Does anyone know the rule on this one? Why would one say “they just text-ed me back...” sounds like ill use of the verb to me!

February 25, 2009  •  mel

Sleep / Asleep

I cannot stand when people say “sleep” instead of “asleep”. For example I’ve heard, “When I got home, he was sleep on the couch”. What is this laziness of not saying ASLEEP?? I have lived in the North all of my life, and most recently moved to the south. This must be some sort of “southern dialect”, annoying to say the least....Has anyone else encountered this?

February 22, 2009  •  greenspark

There is/are progress and improvements.

Which would be correct? There ARE progress and improvements. There IS progress and improvements.

February 18, 2009  •  catherinecanadian

quality-control or quality control

Wondering a) if “quality-control” is a verb b) if it is, should the hyphen be used or not - two instances are found on the “About” page of this website - one with, one without: “As long as we quality-control questions, we should not have to quality control comments.”

February 10, 2009  •  alekseyvaneev

Using plural in the title

I’m still undecided on how to spell correctly: “Drum Track Recording Service” or “Drum Tracks Recording Service”. I’m personally voting for the second variant, but as I’m not a native English speaker, I’m not sure.

February 7, 2009  •  victoria

“it” after the word “known”

This is what I’d like to have engraved on a memorial brick, but the last line doesn’t look correct with the word “it” after “known”. I’m glad mostfolks let me knowthey’re religious.By their actions,I wouldn’t haveever known it.

February 3, 2009  •  legal

What’s the difference between “commission” and “committee”

I was challenged by a colleague of mine with the subject question to me the other day. I turned to several resources but failed to find a satisfactory and convincing answer and PainIntheEnglish is my last hope. Can anybody help me? Thanks a lot!

February 1, 2009  •  mike2

Acronyms, Abbreviations, and BBC News

I’ve noticed in the past that the BBC News Web site seems to be rather hit-or-miss with its use of acronyms and abbreviations. One I see repeatedly is its use of “Nasa” for “NASA,” and another I noticed today is “Farc” instead of “FARC” for the Colombian guerrilla group. At the same time, UK, TV, PM, US, and even BBC are treated as I would expect. Can anyone explain this beyond “the editors are twits”? The abbreviation which prompted me to post this, though, is their habit of abbreviating “Sri Lanka” as “S Lanka.” Why would anyone think it necessary to drop those two characters? By way of introduction, my name is Mike, and I was born and raised in southern California. I’m a survivor of public schools through high school graduation in 1978. I know full well that my command of the English language is far from perfect, and I do not attempt to correct errors in others’ informal writing or speech, but journalists, authors, and others who write for public consumption I hold to a higher standard, and are therefore considered fair game. :-)

January 30, 2009  •  richardg

I didn’t sleep last night AND the night before

My wife is a non-native speaker and came up with the phrase above. Rightly or wrongly - I gently suggested that I’d use OR instead of AND ie “I didn’t sleep last night AND the night before”. --> “I didn’t sleep last night OR the night before”. That’s based on the sound of it (I’m no expert). The second sentence sounds better to me, but makes no sense really. Why is it “OR”. In fact I’d probably use a slightly difference sentence in written English (after multiple hacks), and don’t really care re verbal use. But that’s not my my question. I’ve been wondering about the use of ‘AND’ and ‘OR’ in similar contexts. For example: “I don’t like chocolate OR ice-cream” “I don’t like chocolate AND ice-cream” “I don’t like chocolate OR vanilla ice-cream” “I don’t like chocolate AND vanilla ice-cream”. I think there’s two issues here... the grouping of words, and the way in which OR somehow acts like AND. The AND vs. OR bit particularly bothers me... Can somebody explain this? In math/logic they are opposite terms.

January 27, 2009  •  euniceng

Green eyes

Could you please tell me what it means if someone calls you “green eyes”, but you don’t actually have green eyes. We’re trying to figure out if it means envy/jealousy, being temperamental, or something else?

December 21, 2008  •  shefali

Curriculum Vita or Curriculum Vitae

I was wondering if Curriculum Vita is indeed the usage for a single CV. Is Curriculum Vitae not used in both the plural and singular formats?

December 1, 2008  •  gidgegary

Please be advised....

My local Public transport company has started delivering recorded messages on the train platform “Please be advised that patrons must wait till the train has come to a complete stop before crossing the yellow line”. I find this message completely grates on me, and I suffer it each time I wait on the train platform for my train. “Please” is a polite request for me to take some form of action. I have a choice. I can comply with the request or I can refuse the request. If an instruction is given to me with the precursor “Please be advised” then I am presented with a fait accompli and have no opportunity to decide whether I will comply with the request or not. It is not, in fact, a request in any form and does not provide the recipient with any capacity to dismiss or refuse the request. For this reason, I consider it to be manglish. Can you confirm that “Please be advised” is manglish?

November 28, 2008  •  anonymous21

Street Address vs. Mailing Address

When completing forms that ask for my personal information, I find that many forms ask for “Street Address.” I dutifully fill in my home street address. When I do this I find that, a couple of weeks later, I get a phone call asking me if I’ve moved because a mailing addressed to me was returned marked “unable to deliver.” I explain that I don’t receive mail at my home address, and that I have a Post Office Box for that purpose. The frustrated caller then corrects the information that I provided on the form. I calmly explain that I provided the correct information that was asked for. But this wins me no points with the caller. On other occasions, I have been able to ask someone, “Do you really want my “street address,” or would you rather have my “mailing address?” On many of these occasions I have been told, “No. We have to have your physical street address.” So it appears that when a form says “street address,” sometimes they really want a “mailing address,” and at other times they really do want a “street address.” Is there a general rule of thumb to decipher what people really want?

November 4, 2008  •  mary

Plural last name ending in “z”

How do you refer to two people with the last name Valdez. Is it “the Valdezes” or “Valdez’s” are coming for dinner?

October 22, 2008  •  jessicajames

Pronouns

How do pronouns function with a collective noun? Today I was in my College Prep class and we read a sentence that used the pronoun “they” after the word class. The sentence was “The teacher, who was angry, told the class to do whatever they wanted to.” Would ‘it’ be a better pronoun than that and if not, why?

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