October 12, 2012  •  Hairy Scot

“Liquid water”?

The phrase “liquid water” seems to have become very much in vogue with science correspondents in the media. Does the fact that most of us probably view water as being liquid not render this particular neologism redundant, and reveal it as another example of members of the fourth estate, or perhaps the people they interview, trying to be ultra clever? Shall we all now be required to start referring to ice a “solid water” and steam as “gaseous water”?

October 6, 2012  •  Hairy Scot

“Bring” vs. “Take” differences in UK and American English

English (other than American English) has a clear differentiation between the two words. Both are about moving something. In “bring” the something of somebody is moved to where the speaker is currently situated. “Take” is used to indicate moving something or somebody to a place that the speaker is not currently at. I have heard and read examples of these two verbs being confused in a number of American movies and TV shows, and in a number of books by American authors. Jeffrey Deaver is one author guilty of this along with other flaws like misuse of perpendicular, another is George R R Martin in his Song of Ice and Fire series. For example, in the UK a boy will say to a girl, “May I take you home”. Meaning “may I escort you to your home”, not “would you like to come back to my place”. Whereas in the US “May I bring you home” would be be more common. Similarly, a UK girl might say “Would you take me home please” as opposed to “Would you bring me home please”. Why does this confusion exist and persist?

September 30, 2012  •  lakshay anand

from among

What’s the difference between “among” and “from among”? Do you select a winner “from” the list of participants or “from among” the list of participants?

September 29, 2012  •  Warsaw Will

You’ve got another think/thing coming

If you’re over a certain age, you will probably be familiar with the expression - ‘If that’s what you think, you’ve got another think coming’. But if you’re a bit younger than me, you might well have heard it as - ‘You’ve got another thing coming’, especially if you’re a heavy metal fan. While I can understand that the saying could have changed through mishearing (an eggcorn?), I am puzzled as to how people who use the newer version understand it’s meaning. The original has a perfect logic to it (if not perfect grammar) which seems to me to be completely lost in the newer version.

September 20, 2012  •  Thredder

Abbreviation of “number”

Ok, so the abbreviation is No, but should it have a capital ‘n’ to distinguish if from ‘no’, and is it with a period after it, or not? It is short for numero so, at least in British English, I understand that there should be no period (as the last letter of the abbreviation is the last letter of the word), but in US English there would be (because they don’t care about that sort of thing). And the plural...? Nos. or Nos ... or nos or nos. ? or just leave it as No?

September 11, 2012  •  sigurd

-ic vs -ical

What’s the difference in meaning between ‘-ic’ and ‘-ical’, for example, as in ‘horrific’ versus ‘horrifical’, ‘comic’ versus ‘comical’ ‘fantastic’ versus ‘fantastical’, ‘Eucharistic’ versus ‘Eucharistical’, ‘feministic’ versus ‘feministical’, ‘ecclesial’ vs ‘ecclesiastic’ vs ‘ecclesiastical’, etc?  The more informative the answer(s), the better.

August 31, 2012  •  Dyske

Not just me who thinks... or Not just me who think... or Not just I who think... or Not just I who thinks...

There are two questions associated with this. The first one is: Should it be “Not just I who think...” not “Not just me who think...”? The second question is: Should the subject be considered singular or plural in this case? That is, should it be “Not just I who thinks...” or “Not just I who think...”? After all, if it is not just just me (or I?), there are other people, which makes it plural.

August 7, 2012  •  thebestcook

Titled vs. Entitled

My beef is with titled vs entitled. It seems that it is now acceptable to use entitled in the place of titled. For example: Jane won the contest so she was entitled to the winnings. This is correct. Jane wrote a book and it was entitled ‘How to win at the lottery’ In my opinion, the book was not entitled to anything. The misuse of the word is very widespread and supposedly the meaning has now been officially changed.

August 2, 2012  •  providencejim

“and” or “but” followed by a comma

In recent years I’ve noticed an increasing use of “and” or “but” followed by a comma, as in this example I saw today in an email: “We don’t believe these updates change our practices but, we want to communicate this information directly to you.” The rationale seems to be that a pause is intended after the conjunction, but clearly this violates the traditional rule about punctuating a compound sentence (as per this sentence). In today’s Providence Journal the lead editorial, ”Tough but vague Romney,” includes this: “Mr. Romney has demanded that Iran stop its program aimed at making nuclear weapons and suggested the [sic] Mr. Obama hasn’t been firm enough. But, the former governor hasn’t said how he would do that other than, perhaps, give more support to the Israelis to attack Iran.” I realize the paper’s evident lack of sufficient proofreading might cloud the issue here, but [not "here but,"] I assure you this is not uncommon in today’s newspaper and other published writing. So does this bother anyone else besides me?

July 15, 2012  •  D. A. Wood

Latest vs. Newest

“Latest Crew Blasts Off for the International Space Station” I wrote this in response to an e-mail newsletter distributed by NASA. Yes, they are all dead, dead, dead.... Also, they never could get anywhere on time. What you really meant was the “newest crew”. These newsletters from NASA contain grammatical and logical errors almost every time. They also include the e-mail addresses of the authors, but nobody ever writes back OR publishes any corrections. Also, about half the time, the e-mails to those addresses get returned with the note “Recipient unknown” or “Address unknown”. Why publish any e-mail address if it is not going to work? Why bother? When I write an e-mail to the office of the President of the United States, it goes through, so the people whom I mentioned above cannot claim that they are too busy of VIPs.

July 14, 2012  •  NotAGrammarSnob

changed history

Biggest pet peeve: anything that “changed history.” You cannot change what has already happened. It is over and done with. Even if you go back in time and make changes, you have not changed history, because now it never happened the original way. The original events never happened, became “the past,” and were therefore never history! The only history at that point is the one that did take place as a result of changes being made. There is only one history, regardless of sci-fi movies’ time travel themes, etc., and that is why every form of the phrase “to change history” drives me crazy!

July 14, 2012  •  NotAGrammarSnob

repetitive vs. repetitious

I consider myself fairly intelligent, but I do not know when to use “repetitive” as opposed to ‘repetitious.” A friend suggested a person can be described as being “repetitious” where something like an activity would be “repetitive,” as in “repetitive stress injury.” However, these are the kinds of questions I think of, and I was wondering if someone can clarify that for me. Thank you in advance!

July 14, 2012  •  sefardi

Anglican

The word Anglican. Reading the interesting thread about the word Anglish, it came into my mind an old debate about the word Anglican. Is it only used to refer to the Church of England or it can be used to refer to other aspects of English culture, such as language, culture or customs? According to Webster’s dictionary, Anglican is anything relating England or the English Nation. I know the word Anglo-Saxon is most commonly used, but it sounds rather ethnic and vague. What do you think?

July 11, 2012  •  Hairy Scot

“get in contact”

Pet peeve 3 Saying “get in contact’ or “keep in contact”

July 11, 2012  •  Carl Peterson

Topography

Can a geographic location have a “flat topography” or a “high topography”?

July 11, 2012  •  Figroll

Pronouncing “gala”

As a follow up to Hairy Scot’s pet peeves. One of mine is the American pronunciation of Gala - gey-luh instead of the traditional English gal-uh.

July 8, 2012  •  D. A. Wood

Molotov Cocktails

The blame here is on an American TV network that presented an interview with a British Fire Chief saying something about an outbreak of criminals with “petrol bombs” -- and then with no explantation whatever. In America, we do not have “petrol” and nobody knows what a “petrol bomb” is. Then after several minutes of thought, it dawned on me that the Fire Chief meant Molotov Cocktails. Yes, the crooks were committing arson with Molotov Cocktails. Those are bottles of gasoline with wicks attached to the tops, and then set on fire. Molotov Cocktails are well-known here from their history as weapons of the Soviet Army in fighting against Nazi German tanks. Vyacheslav Molotov was the Soviet Foregn Minister from 1939 through 1949, and he was well-known to Americans especially since he visited the United States in 1942 (to see President Roosevelt and to ask for wartime aid) and in 1945 (to sign the Treaty of San Francisco that established the United Nations). Molotov also held other high posts in the Soviet heirarchy. Hence, the name “Molotov Cocktail” came from all of this. People who appear on American TV need to use the American names for things, or at least the TV networks should explain what foreign phrases mean. We understand what a TOKAMAC is because it has been explained to us as a Russian acronym. We can look up the details in www.Wikipedia.org if we want to. Slang phrases like “petrol bomb” at not there.

July 8, 2012  •  D. A. Wood

“Much More Ready”

I just heard a British announcer say “much more ready” on TV. Whatever happened to the word “readier” and the phrase “much readier”. Also, is the source of the phrase “much more X”, where X is a simple one or two syllable adjective, in British English -- and Americans are now slavishly imitating it? Now we hear such wretched phrases as “much more free”, “much more grave”, and “much more simple”, when we already had simple comparatives like “freer”, “graver”, and “simpler”.

July 5, 2012  •  sefardi

From which part of England do people pronounce the vowel “u” in a similar way to the French “u”?

They pronounce words such as success, luck, but et al with a closed “ooh”: “sook-cess”, “look”, “boot”

July 2, 2012  •  Hairy Scot

Pronouncing “mandatory”

Pet Peeve 2. People pronouncing “mandatory” as “mandaytory”. Just sounds pretentious.

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