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?

October 21, 2008  •  elainekoh

reported speech

John said, “My birthday fell on last Friday.” If the above is reported, which verb should I use? John said that his birthday fell/had fallen on the previous Friday.

October 19, 2008  •  kangnamgu

Find the error

Working from a textbook, one exercise requires students to find the error in different sentences. Can anybody find the error in the following sentence? *The painting of the Buddha, that has nine figures, made the religion more concrete to believers in 13th-century Tibet.* The sentence refers to a picture in the book of a painting of a Buddha with several other figures (bodhisattvas) around it. Sections of the sentence is underlined. I will use square-brackets to indicate the underlined sections. The error should be with one of these underlined sections. Here is the sentence again: The painting of the Buddha[, that has]{A} nine [figures,]{B} made the religion more [concrete]{C} to believers in [13th-century Tibet.]{D} The Teacher’s Edition of the textbook says that the error is with {A}. If this is correct, what is wrong with it? Thanks!

October 14, 2008  •  magicrin

be of some help / be of any help

1. which one is correct? “i am glad to be of some help or i am glad to be of any help?” 2. what`s different between them?

September 30, 2008  •  sushant

Evident/Evidenced

“The liquidity is high, as evident/evidenced from the Reserve Bank of India’s reverse repo auctions.” Which one of these two words would be more appropriate here? How do we decide that ?

September 24, 2008  •  phyllis

“dis” vs “un”

Ok I am always coming up against the following with non-native speakers: disinterest vs uninterested dissatisfied vs unsatisfied disorganised vs unorganised Any simple rule of thumb or guideline?

September 16, 2008  •  chris

Aritcle or no article - that is the question.

“In this letter, we describe a practical method for sense tagging of Korean unit words in nominal compounds.” In the above sentence, I’m curious if “sense tagging of” requires an article, as in “the sense tagging of”. Because of the “of” after “tagging” my instincts say yes, an article is necessary. But am I just adding unnecessary clutter into the sentence? Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks!

September 2, 2008  •  davidh

Meet monday v Meet on Monday

Why do Americans not use a preposition when talking about days of the week? “We’ll meet Monday” has an “on” “before” “after” or “during” missing. You can’t meet Monday unless it is a person or a thing; as it is a unit of time there should be a preposition; One doesn’t “meet 4 o’clock” but one may “meet at 4 o’clock” and so you do “not meet Monday” but “on Monday”.

September 1, 2008  •  jakemontero

con cum with

I’ve seen some writeups around the internet where they use the word “con-cum” or “con cum with”. I know “cum” means with in Latin like “suma cum laude” or transformation like “bus cum green house (bus converted to green house). Can anyone tell me how to use “cum” correctly, or should I avoid it as much as possible?

August 28, 2008  •  michelle

“the below” vs “the following”

When writing, “the below changes will take place tomorrow” followed by a bulleted list of changes, would it be more correct to use the phrase “the following...”? Or, is this a matter of personal style? In the above context, what is the phrase “the below”, an adjective?

August 27, 2008  •  dickrommelmann

You’re not going to the game, are you?

Question; are you going to the game? If I am, I say yes. Sometimes the question is framed “You’re not going to the game, are you?” If I’m not going I maintain the response is YES. as in yes, I’m not going. This has been a source of friction with a friend for some time. Comments please over this picayune dribble.

August 21, 2008  •  nomad

Usage of ‘I have doubt that’

“Some people may have doubt that why invest in these sectors during the economy slump?” Is the above phrase grammatically correct? Is it grammatically correct to use ‘doubt that’ when the ‘doubt’ is a NOUN? For example: 1) VERB: I doubt that Fred has really lost 25 pounds ... 2) NOUN: Some people may have doubts that .....

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