May 11, 2008  •  howardthornhill

“pi the type”

I have now found the phrase “pi the type” in two different books and have an idea of the meaning from the context. I would hope to learn more about the meaning and how it might have originated.

May 8, 2008  •  mareen

Possessive when abbreviated letter is plural

If our organization is called Help for Kids and we want to use the abbreviation HFK . . . is this correct usage in this sentence: HFK’ activities will start in the summer. With the K standing for Kids and Kids being plural, would this be correct use of the apostrophe at the end of HFK’?

April 28, 2008  •  perplexed

semi-colon and colon in one sentence

I have a sentence with which I am struggling because I am not sure if I can use both a colon and semi-colon in it. However, I want everything in one sentence and cannot figure out what other punctuation I should use. Here’s the sentence with names and details altered for anonymity. “I am indebted to my family, especially my cousins: Jane Smith, my first teacher, without whom I would not be where I am today; and John Smith, my second teacher, who taught me more than he could have possibly imagined.” The colon is setting up a list and the semi-colon is separating items in the list that contain commas. Thoughts? Thanks in advance.

April 27, 2008  •  joseph

“as long as” vs. “so long as”

Am I correct when I teach my students that “as long as” means you’re measuring time, and “so long as” means you’re using it as a conditional? Hence, “I was here as long as he was” (meaning we were there for the same length of time) and “I will love you so long as you don’t cheat on me” (used for cause and effect situations)

April 27, 2008  •  joseph

Reason Why

Isn’t it redundant to say That is the REASON WHY I am here. Isn’t the ‘reason’ the ‘why’ as well? But how come many people use it?

April 24, 2008  •  uip

Believe as a noun

It seems like I’m seeing, more and more, “believe” and similar words being used as nouns. At first I thought that it was an ESL issue; perhaps in other languages, the same word is used for both “believe” and “belief”. But that explanation is looking less and less plausible. Is it just me, or are other people baffled by this? I don’t understand how any native speaker can confuse the two words. Perhaps there are accents in which they are pronounced the same?

April 24, 2008  •  corinne

Can “meantime” and “meanwhile” be used interchangeably?

I often hear television announcers say “Meantime” when I would say “meanwhile” or “in the meantime.” This seems to be a recent usage. Any comments?

April 20, 2008  •  rfw

Let’s you and me/I

Is it correct to say “Let’s you and I” or “Let’s you and me”?

April 17, 2008  •  Rob

Inch vs. Inches

I’m editing a technical manual. The engineers I’m working with have regularly typed amounts which are under one as “.05 inches” or “.67 inches.” I’ve been of the opinion that this is to be typed “.05 inch” and “.67 inch,” as the amounts are less than one, but I can’t find anything to support either opinion. Please advise.

April 1, 2008  •  nickbrock

Big, red bull vs red, big bull

Why is it more appropriate to say the big, red bull was running fast, rather than the red, big bull was running fast?

March 18, 2008  •  sarah4

Spelling with mixed cases

I recently gave a class of six year olds a spelling test and saw that many of the children were spelling words with the correct letters but had used capital letters at the beginning, middle or end of a word. Is a word that has the correct letters but some of them are in capitals still considered to be correctly spelled?

January 31, 2008  •  mightyredpen

perpetrating or perpetuating?

The Boston Globe today ran an op-ed with the headline “Perpetrating the Autism Myth.” But on the homepage, they referred to the op-ed with a link that said “TV shows perpetuate the autism myth.” What is the difference between perpetrate and perpetuate as they are used here?

January 15, 2008  •  monkey

Shall have done?

Do we use “shall have done” followed by second and third persons? I understand that if ‘shall’ comes after second and third persons, it is employed to indicate an obligation or a warning, etc. How about ‘shall have done’? for example: Company A shall have contributed 50 million dollars to the joint venture. Is such usage correct? I feel somewhat strange. I understand that if we want to use future perfect tense, we will use “will have done” and in case of first persons “shall” could be adopted instead of “will”. If we want to use subjunctive mood, we will use “should have done”. “[third persons] shall have done” looks neither future perfect nor an indication of obligations. I think it is wrong. Am I right?

January 7, 2008  •  george

When to use verbs with an s or without

My teacher says the sentence “It is urgent Molly prepare a revised copy of the file.” is correct. I think it should be “It is urgent Molly prepares a revised copy of the file.” Molly is singular so it needs a verb ending with a s. Can someone help me?

January 1, 2008  •  dredsina

Try and

I’m wondering about the phrase, “try and.” (Used like this: “I’m going to try and stop him.”) I know that it’s technically grammatically correct, but is it okay to say it? Would it be better to say, “I’m going to try TO stop him” instead?

December 22, 2007  •  cheripetraitis

Younger vs. youngest

My husband and I disagree on the use of these two words. I say, since we have three children, two girls and a boy, that I can say that “Rebecca is the younger daughter, and the youngest child”. He says that since she is the youngest of all three children, that he can say she is his youngest daughter. I feel that it should be she is the younger daughter since there are only two daughters and of course, she is the youngest child. HELP!

December 19, 2007  •  niskys

As it were

I’ve heard people say “as it were” quite often. It doesn’t even sound wrong to me anymore. But shouldn’t it really be “as it WAS” instead, for proper subject verb agreement?

December 18, 2007  •  janine

Sings like a canary

Where does that phrase come from and what does it mean?

November 27, 2007  •  legaltranslator

obliged or obligated?

I am puzzled by the usage of ‘obliged’ and ‘obligated’. What’s the difference between the two words, which seem to share the same noun form “obligation”? I could think of two sentences as below: (1) John Doe is not obligated to do this. (2) Experts felt obliged to investigate. What if obligated and obliged are exchanged in the examples? any difference meaning? Thanks

November 19, 2007  •  offwiththeirheads

Origin of the saying “off with their heads”

I know the saying was popularized from the movie Alice in Wonderland. Did the expression “off with their heads” have it’s origin in England or France?

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