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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Which of the following are okay to you?
a) While roses are red, violets are blue.
b) Whilst roses are red, violets are blue.
c) While some roses are red, many are not.
d) Whilst some roses are red, some are not.
e) Roses are red, whereas violets are blue.
f) Roses are red, while violets are blue.
g) Roses are red, whilst violets are blue.
h) Some roses are red, whilst some are not.
i) Whereas most roses are indeed red, some are not.
j) While I loved my first wife very much, she did in fact become fat.
k) While my first wife did in fact become fat, I still loved her very much.
l) Whilst I loved my first wife very much, she did in fact become fat.
And thus what, to your good mind, is the rule?
And what a pain English is!
I have recently received a number of emails where the phrase “Thank you for reaching out to ___” is used instead of what I would expect to be the normal expression “Thank you for contacting ___”.
These emails are from companies in the USA.
Is “reaching out” now the in vogue expression for the simple act of contacting someone?
Now, I’ve been rolling this question over for few weeks now. I personally believe whom in the cases, but on we go. After writing most of this, I think  should be who now.
The infinitive phrase/clause normally takes the objective case as its “subject”.
“I wanted to meet him.”
Thus, the corresponding interrogative:
“Whom did he want to meet?”
But what happens if you take this construction and use it with a copular verb?
 “Who/whom am I to judge.” (?)
 “I am who/whom to be.” (?)
Which may correspond to the declarative sentences (U=unacceptable; A=acceptable):
[1a] “I am he to judge.”
[1b] “I am him to judge”
[2a] “I am he to be.”
[2b] “I am him to be.”
[2c] “I am to be he.” (U)
[2d] “I am to be him.”(A)
It is possible to expand them into relative clauses:
[1a'] “I am the person who can judge them.”(A)
[1b'] “I am the person whom can judge.” (U)
[2a'] “I am the person (who) you should be.” (U)
[2b'] “I am the person (whom) you should be.” (A)
The construction has two verb constructions (one copular and the other infinitive) vying for dominance. So thoughts? These conundrums are fascinating and, due to my obsessive-compulsiveness, frustrating. </p>
I just have the impression that the old proverbs that I heard as a child aren’t heard as much today. People just don’t seem to use them much anymore.
Of course this is hard to prove: maybe I am not mixing in the right circles; maybe there are newer proverbs that have replaced the older (proverbs change with each generation); maybe the media and/or gurus have picked up some and ignored others; maybe few make into print outside the tabloids and popular magazines.
As far as the printed word goes, of those I have looked at some seem to peak around the 1930′s and then trail off, only to recover somewhat over the last decade or two. “Actions speak louder than words” was the commonest one I found, 3:1 against “Beggars can not be choosers”.
What is your impression? Is proverb use declining or just new ones becoming popular?
I’m trying hard to figure out the differences and proper usages of these three particular words (primarily putative vs. supposed). Can putative (-ly) be used in the same spots supposed (-ly) can? What’s the nuance between them?
I’m having a custom item made to indicate when our home was established. The year will be the year my husband and I were married and started our family. My issue is I’m not sure how our name should appear. Here is the text.
The (LAST NAME)
Our last name is Myers. Please help! I’m not sure if it should be possessive (ownership of the home/family) or plural (for the people).
At the clinic I was directed to the “subwait area” and left to ponder my fate. I did wonder whether this should be sub-wait and how fully portable “sub” has become as a preposition and/or prefix, when attached to a Germanic-rooted word. What other words are there where “sub” is used as an English word, apart from phrases like “sub judice” and “sub” as a short form of “substitute” eg in sport “he was subbed off”?
Googling for “use my brain” (singular) returns 16 million results whereas “use my brains” (plural) returns 11 million. “Rack my brain” returns 792,000 results, and “rack my brains”, 312,000.
Why do we even consider using “brains” (plural)? What are we trying to say by adding the “s”? Is there any difference in connotations?
a) “Could I borrow your pen please?” “Of course.”
b) Teacher: “Did you do your homework?” Student: “Of course.”
c) Interviewee: “May I sit down?” Interviewer (thinking: what a twit!): “Of course.”
d) Police: “Do you have ID, and license?” Driver: “Of course, officer. Good of you to ask”.
e) Called from the shower: “Is it raining out?” Spouse: “Of course.”
f) In hallway to home-comer: “Is it raining out?” Dripping home-comer: “Of course.”
g) At party: “Could I borrow your wife for a quickie?” “Of course.”
h) After party: “Are you coming?” Only sober car-owner/driver: “Of course.”
i) Boss: “Can you have that report on my desk by 2300?” “Of course.”
Of course it may depend on how it is said, but where would it be dangerously ambiguous?
What alternatives are there which are safer?