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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I was in empty space in an elevator one day when it occurred to me that it’s actually “pains-taking”, the taking of pains to do something thoroughly. I’d never thought about it before.
But it’s too hard to pronounce “painz-taking”, because the “z” sound must be voiced; whereas the unvoiced “s” combines easily with the “t” to make “-staking”, so that’s what we say. That’s my theory, but BrE might be different. Is it?
For example, “Every morning, I wake up at 6:00 am and then I make a cup of coffee.”
As a writing teacher for international students, I see this kind of sentence all the time. I know it is technically correct to use a comma before a coordinating conjunction, but I have found that so many Americans omit this comma that it has become extremely commonplace even among native English speakers. Is it socially acceptable in writing to omit the comma? How serious is it to mandate that my international include this comma?
I seem to be pretty fond of the adverb ‘pretty’ used as a modifier, so was rather surprised when one of my young Polish students told me that his teacher at school had said that this use was ‘OK with his mates’ (his words), but inappropriate in the classroom. Looking around I see that this is not an isolated objection, although people didn’t seem to complain about it much before 1900.
Why has this word, much used by eighteenth and nineteenth century writers, writers of prescriptive grammar included, attracted this opposition in more recent times?
I’m new here, and am wondering what all you experts think about the use of the word “leverage” as a verb. It seems it’s being used more often recently. Personally I feel that “leverage” is a noun, as defined by Merriam-Webster’s as “the action of a lever or the mechanical advantage gained by it”. However it seems that mainly financial and managerial types seem to like using is as a verb - “Hey, let’s leverage the unfortunate circumstances of these people that can’t pay their bonds, and get their homes for free”.
What does it mean? Although MW does give it as a verb as well, it’s interesting that investopedia.com gives it as “1 The use of various financial instruments or borrowed capital, such as margin, to increase the potential return of an investment.”, i.e. it lists the verb first. Other sources give different meanings, suggesting that the meaning of “leverage” as a verb is not very clear. I wonder what these people do when their roof leakages, or the engines of their cars failure?
Just for interest, over the years I’ve bookmarked the following in my web browser (under info / language / English):
(please excuse the language there where not appropriate :)
Oh yes, and a quote from Seth Godin’s blog (although I’m not sure who he is quoting):
“leveraging” , - comment: i asked everyone on my team not to use those words. the frequency of use of words like “leverage” is inversely proportionate to the amount of original thought. the more you say “leverage”, the less you’ve probably thought about what you’re saying.
(Seth is an American marketer, motivational speaker and author)
I had always believed that saying “thanks for that” without a following noun or phrase was intended as something of a put down.
I’m not referring to its use in the form “Thanks for that information” or “Thanks for that wine you sent”, but to the situation(s) where someone had said something inane or pointless, or had told an uninteresting story or a somewhat obscure joke.
One would then say “Thanks for that” followed by the person’s name.
Tim: “This one time, I broke a pen and then fixed it again.”
Me: “Thanks for that, Tim.”
But now the phrase seems to be in general use with no irony attached.
Instead of just saying “Thank you” some people are now saying “Thanks for that” with no further qualification.