June 5, 2007  •  joann

What should “I do”?

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?

June 4, 2007  •  jaclyn

Me Versus I

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?

May 30, 2007  •  juttin

I seek a word that means “more than daily.”

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?

May 22, 2007  •  gin

Following are / Followings are

The following are default extensions. The followings are default extensions. Which one of the above is correct?

April 30, 2007  •  pinenut

How should I...? vs. How would I...?

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?

April 26, 2007  •  amazed

A couple...

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?

April 21, 2007  •  guillaume

And how...

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?

April 2, 2007  •  bobmorgy

Methodology

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!

March 13, 2007  •  barbara

troops vs soldiers

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

March 7, 2007  •  gusinmexico

The dog wets vs. The door opens.

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.

March 5, 2007  •  jonathan

Substantial vs. substantive

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’?

March 2, 2007  •  catherine

Hyphenating percentages

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.

February 15, 2007  •  stal359

In actuality, actually

I hate the expression “In actuality, ... ” Is it correct or should one use “Actually,...”

February 8, 2007  •  Dyske

Ass

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?

February 7, 2007  •  jarbalix

How did “trans-” become “x-”?

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?

February 1, 2007  •  jme

Double-Negative Prefix

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?”

January 26, 2007  •  steven2

Ernest

I wonder whether anyone can clear something up for me. I have encountered a couple of times (once in a review of the play) the claim that the Victorian audiences for Oscar Wilde’s play “The Importance of Being Ernest” would have recognised in the word “ernest” a pun that relied on Victorian slang: one meaning of “earnest” was “homosexual,” roughly equivalent to the modern “gay.” Can anyone confirm or deny?

January 25, 2007  •  Dyske

Materialism

The word “materialism” as used by the general public (as in Madonna’s “Material Girl”) is quite different from the one used by philosophers like Marx. I’m always surprised by how even highly educated people confuse the two. Communism is based on Marx’s materialist philosophy, yet the US is often described as a materialistic nation. This is confusing to many people. Did the popular usage of “materialism” come out of the misuse/misunderstanding of the philosophical term? Or, does the popular usage have its own etymology/origin independent of the philosophical one? Or, was the philosophical one based on the popular usage?

January 22, 2007  •  susie

Everybody vs. Everyone

My mother and I were discussing the use of “everybody” and “everyone” at dinner this evening. Are these two words interchangeable? Is one more informal than the other? I have a B.A. in English, but oddly have never seen this topic, nor have I been asked about this. Any insight would be greatly appreciated!

January 19, 2007  •  adamcollett

An unforecasted dilemma

So someone I work with is giving me hell about the word “unforecasted.” Microsoft’s built-in dictionary doesn’t recognize it, and I’ve checked a couple of on-line dictionaries to no avail. However, a Google search shows relatively common usage in business, defense, and academic writings. I stand by it - it sounds correct to my ears and it seems to alleviate a void in nuance that is not filled by unanticipated, unpredicted and the like. Can anyone validate or refute my stance?

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