Pain in the English http://painintheenglish.com Forum for the gray areas of the English language Thu, 27 Aug 2015 22:00:42 +0000 daily 1 How does one debate a person? http://painintheenglish.com/case/5497 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5497/#comments Fri, 7 Aug 2015 02:36:21 +0000 Hairy Scot http://painintheenglish.com/case/5497 I noticed in reports of the recent GOP debate a number of instances where the phrase “Person A debated Person B.” was used rather than “Person A debated with Person B.” Is this common in USA?

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“escaped prison” or “escaped from prison”? http://painintheenglish.com/case/5494 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5494/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 13:21:54 +0000 Robert Hermann http://painintheenglish.com/case/5494 Is it escaped prison or escaped from prison?

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Why do we have “formal” English? http://painintheenglish.com/case/5491 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5491/#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 17:17:25 +0000 jayles the unwoven http://painintheenglish.com/case/5491 Is this not just perpetuating the English caste system? 

Why are words like “a lot of”, ” a bit of”, “get” considered lower-class words and “a great deal/number of” and similar cumbersome periphrases considered “better” ?

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When is the “-wise” suffix okay? http://painintheenglish.com/case/5490 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5490/#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 17:04:56 +0000 jayles the unwoven http://painintheenglish.com/case/5490 For instance: “We need to do everything we can prevention-wise.”

Other similar words: taxwise, money-wise, property-wise, food-wise

I realise there has been resistance to indiscriminate usage; the question is really about what constitutes “indiscriminate”?

Secondly, why the prejudice against what is a productive and concise suffix, when the alternative phrases are cumbersome and pretentious.

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have a knowledge of http://painintheenglish.com/case/5488 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5488/#comments Wed, 22 Jul 2015 18:17:12 +0000 steve3 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5488 How do we justify “a” with a non-count noun such as “...to have a knowledge of Latin...” ?

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Pronunciation of the second ‘a’ in Canada and Canadian http://painintheenglish.com/case/5487 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5487/#comments Wed, 22 Jul 2015 11:51:33 +0000 Benedict http://painintheenglish.com/case/5487 Can anyone tell me why the second ‘a’ in Canada and Canadian is pronounced differently? 

I’m English/British and I and from England/Britain.

Surely it should either be Can-a-da & Can-a-dian or Can-ay-da & Can-ay-dian...

My guess is it has something to do with the French influence, but I would love to know for sure.

Here in the UK our language has been heavily influenced over the years, including by the French and it has always interested where these things start or change.

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English can do perfectly well without “Tenses” http://painintheenglish.com/case/5486 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5486/#comments Tue, 21 Jul 2015 04:18:34 +0000 Leonid Kutuzov http://painintheenglish.com/case/5486 In my opinion,  the greatest pain in the English language is the so-called Tenses.

Generation after generation, grammarians and linguists have been trying to use the term for describing how English Verb System works writing more and more wise books on the subject, without any visible results.

Millions of ESL/EFL learners find Tenses to be hopelessly tangled, confusing and totally incomprehensible. So do a great number of ESL/EFL teachers.

And it is no wonder, because describing English grammar as having only past and present is like trying to describe a car as having three wheels. 

I think  that English can do perfectly well without “Tenses” because it is a meaningless and therefore useless term.

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Unusual use of “infringed”? http://painintheenglish.com/case/5484 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5484/#comments Wed, 15 Jul 2015 18:20:06 +0000 Hairy Scot http://painintheenglish.com/case/5484 From my local medical centre’s web page:-

“The carpark at xxxxxx Health & Wellness Centre is now limited to 180 minutes. Cars parked longer than this and not displaying an exemption permit will be infringed with a $65 parking fine. This is intended to keep the carpark free for patients and customers of the building only. Unauthorised parkers leaving their vehicles in our carpark all day will be infringed.”

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“I’ve lived many years in Kentucky.” http://painintheenglish.com/case/5482 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5482/#comments Fri, 3 Jul 2015 18:09:31 +0000 jayles the unwoven http://painintheenglish.com/case/5482 “I’ve lived many years in Kentucky.”

How comfortable are you with this grammar in writing?

Would you prefer “I’ve lived in Kentucky for many years” ?

Is this just an Americanism?

How widespread is this pattern?

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The 1900s http://painintheenglish.com/case/5470 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5470/#comments Thu, 11 Jun 2015 05:31:55 +0000 Skeeter Lewis http://painintheenglish.com/case/5470 A change that has happened in my lifetime is the use of ‘1800s’, ‘1900s’ and so on. When I was young they referred to the first decade of the century. They would be followed by the ‘1910s’, ‘1920s’ et al. Now they’re used to mean the whole century. I’m not whinging - just noting the changes that happen with the years.

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“In the long term” http://painintheenglish.com/case/5461 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5461/#comments Thu, 28 May 2015 08:43:49 +0000 Anne Daarbech http://painintheenglish.com/case/5461 A colleague of mine claimed that you can say “In the long term” instead of “In the long run”. Is that correct?

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Could I use both a colon and semicolon in a sentence? http://painintheenglish.com/case/5448 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5448/#comments Tue, 28 Apr 2015 00:02:26 +0000 Pamela http://painintheenglish.com/case/5448 Could I use both a colon and semicolon in a sentence?

A college will provide help for students who are struggling in homework; the resources are: study skills that help students to be on top of coursework, counselors will give advices dealing with the workload, and the option to drop a class early.

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Keep from catching it http://painintheenglish.com/case/5434 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5434/#comments Mon, 13 Apr 2015 02:55:41 +0000 Dudefulla http://painintheenglish.com/case/5434 Does this
“The flu is going around. In order to keep from catching it, you should gargle and wash your hands regularly”
Make sense? I’ve never heard. “In order to keep from catching it.” used in a sentence before.

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Is “painstaking” pronounced the same in Britain as here, as “pain-staking”? http://painintheenglish.com/case/5418 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5418/#comments Sat, 4 Apr 2015 02:12:09 +0000 Manetfan http://painintheenglish.com/case/5418 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?

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How important is it to use a comma before a coordinating conjunction in writing these days? http://painintheenglish.com/case/5415 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5415/#comments Sun, 29 Mar 2015 20:51:34 +0000 Jennifer Sidwell http://painintheenglish.com/case/5415 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?

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being used http://painintheenglish.com/case/5410 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5410/#comments Wed, 11 Mar 2015 13:20:35 +0000 Anton Ivanov http://painintheenglish.com/case/5410 Could you please explain the difference in the following sentences?

1. The instruments used are very reliable.

2. The instruments being used are very reliable.

Are participle 2 “used” and passive participle 1 “being used” interchangeable in this context?

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Opposition to “pretty” http://painintheenglish.com/case/5405 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5405/#comments Sat, 7 Mar 2015 13:30:29 +0000 Warsaw Will http://painintheenglish.com/case/5405 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?

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Why do sports teams take a definite article? http://painintheenglish.com/case/5402 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5402/#comments Mon, 23 Feb 2015 00:37:22 +0000 dwishiren http://painintheenglish.com/case/5402 The New York Yankees

The Utah Jazz

The Orlando Magic

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Is “leverage” a verb? http://painintheenglish.com/case/5392 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5392/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 06:29:35 +0000 DaveBoltman http://painintheenglish.com/case/5392 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)

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“nervous to perform” or “nervous of performing”? http://painintheenglish.com/case/5388 http://painintheenglish.com/case/5388/#comments Tue, 20 Jan 2015 23:17:23 +0000 Hairy Scot http://painintheenglish.com/case/5388 Recently saw this headline in Time:- 

“Katy Perry Admits She’s Nervous to Perform at the Super Bowl”. 

To me “nervous to perform” sounds a bit strange. 

My feeling is that “nervous of performing” sounds better.

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