This is a forum to discuss the gray areas of the English language for which you would not find answers easily in dictionaries or other reference books. You can browse through the latest questions and comments below. If you have a question of your own, please submit it here.
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Is it actually correct to use “American” when referring to residents of the United States? I was traveling in Peru last summer and to my surprise realized for the first time that people down in South America consider themselves to be “Americans” too. After all, South America is as “America” as North America, right?
So to be clear, for a technical publication I’m working on, what’s the best way to refer to residents of the US? Is “American” still acceptable? The study I’m quoting uses “US residents,” but there are times when that phrase becomes unwieldy.
Is separating two coordinating-conjunction-linked sentences, the former having a comma(s), with a semicolon instead of a comma logically justified?
In GrammarBook.com’s Semicolons category, Rule 5. reads:
Use the semicolon between two sentences joined by a coordinating conjunction when one or more commas appear in the first sentence.
Examples: When I finish here, I will be glad to help you; and that is a promise I will keep.
If she can, she will attempt that feat; and if her husband is able, he will be there to see her.
“What can I do besides complaining” sounds wrong to me but I can’t say why ... I think it should be complain.
“What can I do besides complain?”
“What can I do but complain?”
However, “Besides complaining, what can I do?” sounds ok.
Any thoughts? Or am I completely off base here?
I have an ear for when people use bad grammar, especially the use of prepositions at the end of a clause. I was recently watching a show, however, and a character said “Toys are meant to be played with.” What is the correct wording of this phrase? It is killing me.
“Under urgency”? I recently came across this phrase for the first time in my life. The context was:- “Parliament passed the Copyright Amendment Act into law under urgency last night” Can’t really put my finger on why, and I can’t at the moment come up with an alternative, but it just doesn’t sound right. Anyone have any thoughts on this?
Are “whensoever” and “whenever” really the same?
In some of the dictionaries I checked, “whensoever” is defined “whenever”; but I disagree.
For instance, I think “The students may leave whenever they so choose” can be written “[...] whensoever they choose” because “so” is already part of “whensoever”.