My children frequently say they did something, or someone else did something “on accident,” where I would say “by accident.” The “on” version not only sounds wrong to me, but it makes no semantic sense (what about the normal meaning of “on” could make it appropriate here?), but despite my having corrected them many times, they persist in this usage, which suggests it is entrenched in their subculture (Southern California Public Schools). I also came across the “on accident” form on the web recently. Is this idiom taking over? Would anyone care to defend it, or to suggest how it might have originated? Also, as a college teacher in Southern California I have noticed a construction that might be related in quite a few student essays. This is “study on,” where I would just write “study.” For example: “Galileo studied on astronomy for many years.” Admittedly, this almost always occurs in essays that are poorly written in all sorts of other respects, but it is clearly not a simple mistake, as it occurs quite frequently, sometimes several times in the same paper. Clearly it is done intentionally. (Perhaps it is worth adding that many of my students are Hispanic and bilingual in Spanish and English. Could it be that “study on” reflects some construction or idiom in Spanish? Could that be the case for “on accident” too?)
I was wondering if it is alright to use merchandises as a word. I am reading a report where the author uses it frequently, e.g. delivery of merchandises. I think it should be delivery of merchandise rather than merchandises.
Let us say I received a box of apples from Joe Jones, Ltd. Would I write: “Joe Jones, Ltd., sent a box of apples.” or “Joes Jones, Ltd. sent a box of apples.”? Notice that the first example has one more comma. Thanks!
A coworker and I are arguing over the word “correspondence”. I say it’s already plural, therefore an “s” at the end is unnecessary and incorrect. She says that because she was working on multiple letters, it is “correspondences”. Who’s right?
I’m getting married and my fiancee (with a Harvard PhD) says that our vows should end as “until death us do part.” My priest (with a PhD equivalent who studied in Rome under the Pope) says that the traditional language is “until death do us part.” I’m just a Texas Aggie who thinks that perhaps we should use “for as long as we both shall live.” But just for grins, which of the “until death . . .” phrases is correct? Or are both correct?
I have a picture posted on a website and I was wondering if my caption underneath it is grammatically correct. I wrote “Greg and me” and he feels it should be “Greg and I.” Who is right?
The closest word I can think of is “semi-daily,” but that is too specific. I’d prefer to describe, using a single word, the frequency of a particular event that happens more than once per day, although the number times is not significant and is not always the same. If this is a rare opportunity for someone to make up a word, I welcome a suitable word from someone who is more qualified than I to create such a word. Any ideas?
The following are default extensions. The followings are default extensions. Which one of the above is correct?
The modal verbs, should and would, are different in meaning in that the former expresses the obligation or necessity on the part of the subject while the latter the intention or prediction in the future. There are a couple of examples I cite below and which I found by googling. “As a Southerner, how would I be received?” In this sentence, ‘would’ can clearly be seen to be used to express the prediction in the future. “How would I go about helping my brother get some help with his drug abuse and violent behavior?” In this sentence, ‘would’ seems to mean the necessity, so ‘should’ is more appropriate in this case. What do you think?
I’ve just come from a thread debating the relative correctness of “all of a sudden” vs “all the sudden” and would like to submit another evolving phrase that annoys me: Use of “a couple... ” in lieu of “a couple of...”. “A couple drinks”, or whatever. While I find the question of “all of a sudden” vs “all of the” merely interesting, with this one I am inclined to assume laziness. Any thoughts?
To me, “and how...” is one of those phrases that trails off when the responder doesn’t have much left to say about a certain statement (e.g. “times like these...”, etc.). I know it is to emphasize or strongly agree with a statement that has just been made, but when you think of it literally, it doesn’t make too much sense. Can anyone explain?
If Methodology means “they study of different methods” (in the same idea as Biology or Geology) then why do people always say “Let me explain our methodology” instead of just saying “Let me explain our methods”? Am I wrong or do I have the right to be annoyed!
Listening to the news, I am wondering why there was a change of usage for troops and soldiers. Since the US involvement in Iraq, we are now sending “10,000 troops” over there, rather than 10,000 soldiers. According to www.dictionary.com, a troop is Military. an armored cavalry or cavalry unit consisting of two or more platoons and a headquarters group. Therefore, nothing has changed: troops still means a group. However, in the last few years it has come to be synonymous with “soldier.” Perhaps I missed something living abroad for so long. Any clues would be helpful as I teach English and found this usage has changed. Thanks. Barbara
Well, a fellow ESL teacher who is taking a degree in English told me she had to explain why it is correct to say, “The door opens.” and why it is incorrect to say, “The dog wets.” My first reaction was thinking that someone or something actuates on the door to open it. Therefore, our saying of, “the door opens” merely refers to the fact that it was opened by a third party. Thus, the sentence may have a passive structure. However, when I try to rephrase, “the dog wets” I find myself lacking an object, therefore I would need to use “get + wet” to validate the passive, but I must not add words to the sentence. I’d rather change the verb. But, alas, the purpose of the exercise is to elaborate on an argument that can satisfactorily state why the sentence is wrong. I told my fellow teacher to consider the fact that “wet” would require an object for the sentence to make sense. Any input, opinion, or observations are appreciated.
When I first heard someone use the word ‘substantive’ to mean ‘substantial’ three or four years ago, I assumed that they’d made a mistake. The next few times, which were in political speeches or academic contexts, I assumed it was pedantry or affectation. Now I hear it so much, that I’ve been forced (by my Chambers) to admit that it is probably a reasonable substitute. Is there any substantial/substantive difference in the way one should use either form? And is there an explanation for the rise (if I am correct in perceiving it as a rise) in the use of ‘substantive’ over ‘substantial’?
Is it proper to hyphenate percentages if they’re modifiers? Example - a 20 percent increase. I’m trying to determine this by Associated Press standards.
I hate the expression “In actuality, ... ” Is it correct or should one use “Actually,...”
Why is the word “ass” considered a curse word inappropriate for children? “Fuck” for instance is understandable because it refers to an act inappropriate for children to engage in. (I personally don’t care, but I understand why other parents would care.) For similar reasons, I understand why any words that refer to our sexual organs would be considered inappropriate for children. “Bitch” is also understandable because it degrades women by associating them to dogs. When I look up the etymology of the word “ass”, all I see are references to buttocks and rear end. So, who decides or decided that “ass” should not be used by children? It appears to me that some people at some point in history started using “ass” to mean a sexual object, and the usage gained in popularity. Suppose some famous comedian or writer starts using the word “buttocks” to mean the same, and it gains in popularity. Are we then to classify it as a curse word and prevent children from using it? Does it make sense to give into that kind of arbitrary forces?
I can understand the need to shorten commonly used terms in technical language, but how did they get x from trans? e.g. transmit --> xmit transfer --> xfer “Trans” in this sense indicates a relocation from one thing to another. My only guess is that x is a graphical interpretation of a path crossing from one side to another. Any suggestions?
Why is it that double-negatives are looked negatively upon, yet we commonly use a double-negative prefix? I’m reffering to my gripe with the word “undisclosed.” Understandabley if, let’s say, documents, were “disclosed” we are using a negative prefix of “dis” on “closed”, here meaning not “open” to the public. So by “disclosing” the documents, we have in essence opened them. So, when we have not opened them, should they not remain “closed” instead of becoming “undisclosed?”