Joined: November 6, 2002

Number of comments posted: 105

Number of votes received: 213

I’m the administrator of this site.

Questions Submitted

Use my brain or brains?

It had impacts on...

Collins Dictionaries

Word for Twitter Whores?

Someone else’s

Peter thins them out

One of the most...

Effect vs. Affect


Do’s and Don’t's

Don’t mind if I do



Feeling concern



Life Savers 5 Flavor

I’m home


Murphy’s Law

Color of People

Wiener Coffee

Silk and Silkworm


The Flu and a Cold

The Americans

At least, at the least

Shame on You!

Either Is or Am

A Jew and Jews



Hyphen, N-dash, M-dash

Spaces After Period

Sweet and Savory



Couldn’t Care Less


Sister Company

Ranks has or have

Trouble with Trouble

War in/on/with Iraq

The Reality

20 Something


ON the Lower East Side

Matching the tense

Taking sides


Sheep, Fish, and Cattle

Social vs. Societal

Perturb vs. Disturb

Fried Chicken

Neither is or neither are

Down to the Wire

In and of itself

Motives vs. Motivation


Five of Ten

Went to extremes


hit a snag

“got the best of him”

Off His Rocker

Gone to Seed

Two Weeks Notice


a shit


lack of “a”

Letter A


Matching Numbers



A lot of water

What is / What are

A Part of ...

Past / Present

Text, A Text, Texts

“A” News

Where are the commas?

Don’t you count money?

What Rhymes?

Recent Comments

Re: What does “Curb your dog” mean?  •  March 19, 2014, 9:54am  •  0 vote

I didn't know that "curb your dog" was legally defined. That's interesting, and good to know. Thank you. But what I'm curious about is how that expression came to be; the etymological origin. If "c

Re: What does “Curb your dog” mean?  •  March 13, 2014, 10:42pm  •  0 vote

I thought about this further and realized that street "curb" is put in place to control/restrain the movement of the cars. Curb is a framing device that contain/restrain what's inside of it. In that s

Re: When is a bridge not an overbridge?  •  June 28, 2013, 7:52am  •  1 vote

See this definition: "Where a bridge takes one form of transport over another it is both an overbridge and an underbridge, depending on the reference level. For example, where a road passes above a

Re: “If I had studied, I would have a good grade.”  •  March 20, 2013, 3:54pm  •  1 vote

So, the question is: What is the difference between these two statements? "If I had studied, I would have gotten a good grade." and “If I had studied, I would have a good grade.” For instance,

Re: “my” vs. “mine” in multiple owner possessive  •  January 7, 2013, 1:01pm  •  0 vote

While I agree with Warsaw Will, wouldn't it still be grammatically correct to use "mine" in this case, if you were to think of "mine" as referring to "my child"? That is, what if the original sentence

Re: Preferred forms  •  January 1, 2013, 9:42am  •  0 vote

If they are grammatically correct, the rest is all about their contexts, no?

Re: -ic vs -ical  •  September 11, 2012, 1:22pm  •  0 vote

Some of those are not legitimate words, like "horrifical" and "feministical", but I see your point. Why there are two forms, and if there are any differences.

Re: “Live local.” Is it a complete sentence?  •  June 22, 2012, 6:44am  •  0 vote

I guess it's like "Think different." I don't have an answer but I would be curious to know if "Live local" would be grammatically correct.

Re: “hack” in “hackathon”  •  April 30, 2012, 7:16pm  •  0 vote

Thank you for that link. That is interesting. In the comment section, another person left a link to another page: http://www.cs.berkeley.edu/~bh/hacker.html I'm not quite satisfied with those ex

Re: “hack” in “hackathon”  •  April 30, 2012, 5:21pm  •  0 vote

Interesting. My guess was that "unauthorized access" came before "tinkering". If you are right, I would imagine that "hack" to mean "tinker" or "cope" came before computers.

Re: Does a lie have to have intent to deceive?  •  January 8, 2012, 5:48pm  •  1 vote

I would say intent is irrelevant for the definition of "lie". Think of so-called "white lie". Suppose your boss gives you a present for your birthday, and he asks, "Do you like it?" If you are polite,

Re: and so...  •  April 12, 2011, 4:35am  •  1 vote

It is certainly not a grammatical issue; it's a stylistic issue, SO, it's not wrong. It just does not sound good when you repeat any word over and over.

Re: and so...  •  April 11, 2011, 3:16pm  •  1 vote

I have the same exact problem! If I write without paying conscious attention to using "so", I end up with a whole bunch of them. So, I have to always read through my text specifically to revise my usa

Re: Over exaggeration  •  March 22, 2011, 2:29am  •  5 votes

@Jesse the blob of Bromine I feel your response is beyond exaggerating with all the capital letters and exclamation marks, as well as your desire to harm someone physically. The word "exaggerating"

Re: Accepted spellings, punctuation, and capitalization of email  •  March 18, 2011, 2:10pm  •  0 vote

See below for the new development on this topic: http://painintheenglish.com/case/4547

Re: Past Perfect vs. Past Tense  •  March 9, 2011, 3:27pm  •  0 vote

Yeah, I agree with you. I don't see anything that would justify the use of past perfect tense. It appears that keeping it simply in past tense would make more sense.

Re: Past Perfect vs. Past Tense  •  March 9, 2011, 9:49am  •  1 vote

I'm not sure if it's possible to evaluate this sentence alone. I think it would depend on the tense of the sentences that came before it.

Re: cannot vs. can not  •  February 10, 2011, 2:10am  •  21 votes

Well, my dictionary says both are fine. And, a lot of grammarians on the Web seem to agree. But what I'm curious about is how "cannot" became acceptable and then a preferred form. I would guess that a

Re: Is there a gustative equivalent to the olfactory “malodour”?  •  February 1, 2011, 3:39pm  •  0 vote

I have to say, I love the way you phrased the question. You are really just asking for a word that means bad taste, right? "Malodor", according to my dictionary, is not a thing that smells bad; it

Re: Does “Who knows” need a question mark?  •  November 15, 2010, 5:23pm  •  5 votes

Speaking of the tone, let me provide another example that might be more relevant. How would you read this sentence? Do you really read it like a question if you were to actually say it? "Let's not

Re: Does “Who knows” need a question mark?  •  November 15, 2010, 5:13pm  •  6 votes

Hi Steve, Otherwise, you’re saying that someone named Who has the answer. This is interesting. Doesn't "Who knows" function the same way "God knows" does? In my head, "W

Re: Accepted spellings, punctuation, and capitalization of email  •  October 14, 2010, 1:35pm  •  1 vote

"e-mail" was how the word started, because it was a short for electronic-mail. But I think we evolved further now, and "email" is more common. If you are not hyphenating it, it makes more sense to cap

Re: “she” vs “her”  •  June 20, 2010, 7:46am  •  10 votes

Technically speaking, "Her and I traveled" is wrong. Each has to stand on its own. "Her traveled" doesn't. But what puzzles me is why "Her and I" sounds OK. In comparison, "I and she traveled" sounds

Re: Proper label for an annual event that skipped a year  •  March 31, 2010, 7:09am  •  6 votes

Personally, I would call it "6th". Skipping a year does not necessarily cast a doubt on the number, but on the word "annual". If you end up skipping another year, it would turn into "biennial". In oth

Re: why does english have capital letters?  •  March 31, 2010, 6:56am  •  5 votes

At first I thought this was a silly question, but after researching it a bit I found that various languages have made concerted efforts to reduce the amount of capitalization over their histories, inc

Re: mines  •  March 16, 2010, 3:01pm  •  4 votes

My 5 year old daughter used to say "mines". We thought it was funny so we also started using "mines" sometimes. My sister made her a bag that said "mines". Maybe it's not just my daughter; perhaps thi

Re: How do I write out .25% ?  •  March 3, 2010, 1:00pm  •  1 vote

Well, I think you could say "a quarter of a percent", but this does not address the fundamental problem of your question. For instance, what if the number is ".24%"?

Re: Myriad / myriad of  •  March 1, 2010, 9:08am  •  2 votes

Both should be correct. One is used as a noun, the other used as an adjective. But what I'm not sure about is if there are any differences in nuance. For instance, saying "many apples" and "many of th

Re: Loose = Lose?  •  September 16, 2009, 11:47am  •  0 vote

Yes, it is indeed annoying. I see it all the time, and many people even argue that they are right. Some people even ask me, "Hey, how do you spell 'lose'? With one O or two O's?" I just assumed tha

Re: Difference between a release and a waiver  •  August 13, 2009, 6:24am  •  0 vote

I think this is a legal issue (which term should be used for which situations), so only lawyers could answer this properly, but here is my own sense of the difference. I think the difference become

Re: 46 year old heated Caribbean debate  •  August 2, 2009, 4:23pm  •  2 votes

@porsche, It is interesting that just by adding or eliminating a single letter, you can imply such a different philosophical meaning. Check out

Re: 46 year old heated Caribbean debate  •  August 1, 2009, 7:01am  •  3 votes

I would vote for "finds". When I searched the Web for "every boy and girl is", I found a quote from Hillary Cli

Re: a long sentence with the verb “demand”  •  July 30, 2009, 1:40pm  •  1 vote

I think this is just a bad sentence. Sometimes it's just better to completely recast the whole sentence. For instance: As this society becomes more internationalized, the students are e

Re: Word for Twitter Whores?  •  June 16, 2009, 11:09am  •  0 vote

@EGKG You are right. I see that someone has already coined the term "Twitter whore" on Urban

Re: As of  •  June 10, 2009, 12:09am  •  3 votes

I don't think it's incorrect, but it sounds awkward to me because "as of" usually implies that you sampled a moment of time to see a status of something. In other words, I interpret "as of" as "a part

Re: Effect vs. Affect  •  May 14, 2009, 6:21pm  •  0 vote

Brian, This deserves to be a post of its own. So, I'll create one.

Re: Effect vs. Affect  •  May 14, 2009, 4:39pm  •  0 vote

Brian, What's wrong with "most"? In fact, I never understood the difference.

Re: “It is one of his girlfriends.”  •  May 7, 2009, 4:50pm  •  0 vote

Pretty funny. 1. He has many girlfriends, and the car belongs to one of them. 2. He has one girlfriend but she has many cars. And, it's one of those cars she owns. 3. He has many girlfriends,

Re: Dashes when saying year-olds  •  May 2, 2009, 9:43am  •  0 vote

Funny; I had the same exact problem just yesterday while writing for another blog. a bunch of 5-year-olds or a bunch of 5-year olds or a bunch of 5 year-olds or a bunch of 5 year olds

Re: Why Don’t We Abolish Irregular Verbs and Nouns?  •  April 26, 2009, 12:07pm  •  0 vote

Hi Porsche, I may have. Could you elaborate on that? Am I correct in saying that there were multiple systems of inflection? If so, are you saying that these multiple systems of inflection were part

Re: Why Don’t We Abolish Irregular Verbs and Nouns?  •  April 17, 2009, 4:14pm  •  2 votes

Actually, this shouldn't be so hard to do if the president of the US wanted to do this. He could for instance make the regular versions of the irregular verbs officially acceptable among all governmen

Re: Acronyms, Abbreviations, and BBC News  •  February 2, 2009, 6:14am  •  0 vote

Actually, I've been noticing the same thing. Never mind the errors in capitalization (which cannot be caught by spell checkers, and some may even undo the correct capitalization of acronyms), there ar

Re: Green eyes  •  January 27, 2009, 12:59pm  •  0 vote

I've heard "green with envy", but not "green eyes" for that purpose.

Re: Announcement  •  July 7, 2008, 4:23pm  •  0 vote

Oh, right. It's not easy to write anything for this site; you know it will be scrutinized!

Re: What is this triangular symbol?  •  September 4, 2007, 4:54am  •  0 vote

Hi Nadir, That would be very interesting if that were true, but I'm not sure about that. As you can see below, it's quite off from where the true Pythagorean triangle should be (3-4-5 ratio). If th

Re: double negatives  •  July 7, 2007, 3:58am  •  0 vote

If what is bothering you is the repetition, not the double negatives, then you could simply change it to: There was no clause left in the sole agency contract that wasn't a source of conflict. "

Re: Don’t mind if I do  •  July 6, 2007, 7:08pm  •  2 votes

http://www.bbc.co.uk/liverpool/localhistory/journey/stars/tommy_handley/catchphrases.shtml This is an interesting page I found. According to it, the phrase "I don't mind if I do" was popularized in

Re: Don’t mind if I do  •  July 6, 2007, 5:58am  •  2 votes

It just occurred to me: If “Don’t mind if I do,” is actually a request (as in “Please don’t mind if I take a lot of chocolates.”), then the subject is not being omi

Re: Don’t mind if I do  •  July 6, 2007, 5:31am  •  3 votes

Also: If what is being omitted is indeed the "I", then why was it ever dropped? Can you think of other expressions where the "I" is omitted? The omission makes sense if the statement is a request,

Re: Don’t mind if I do  •  July 6, 2007, 5:15am  •  9 votes

Suppose I'm invited to a party where the host comes around to me with a box of fancy chocolates. She says, "Here, take as many as you want." And I say, "Don't mind if I do." In this scenario, it does

Re: troops vs soldiers  •  March 14, 2007, 5:11am  •  3 votes

This is quite interesting. “Troop” certainly sounds less personal than “soldier”, because no one says, “I’m a troop.” Saying, “We are sending 10,000 tro

Re: Ass  •  February 14, 2007, 9:39pm  •  0 vote

Hi AO, I think we need to distinguish "curse" or "swear" words from words that are inherently offensive (derogatory words). As I said in my original post, there is a good reason why "bitch" is offe

Re: Ass  •  February 14, 2007, 9:16pm  •  2 votes

“It’s raining now.” In English, there is no way to tell what kind of person is saying this. In Japanese, there are many ways to say this: 1. Ima, ame ga futteiru. (sounds offici

Re: Ass  •  February 14, 2007, 7:02pm  •  0 vote

In Japanese, it is not the use of specific words that determines what is offensive. It’s all about the context. The words that are considered benign, friendly, or positive when speaking to someo

Re: Ass  •  February 13, 2007, 5:48pm  •  0 vote

Hi John, As I said, there are taboo words in Japanese, but they are not defined so officially as in English. What exists is a degree of offensiveness. Perhaps this way of putting it might help

Re: Ass  •  February 13, 2007, 5:50am  •  0 vote

Technically speaking, it is true that all languages contain taboo words, but for all intents and purposes, the Japanese language does not. I left Japan when I was 16, so I double-checked with my fathe

Re: Ass  •  February 12, 2007, 6:38pm  •  0 vote

I agree with you Dave, but my question is this: If the meaning of "ass" is indeed arbitrary, then does it make sense to officially prohibit children from using it? It is "official" in a sense that I w

Re: A “homely” home - would you want to live in it?  •  December 31, 2006, 5:59pm  •  0 vote

Webster says that they are essentially the same. (The definition of “homey” points to the entry for “homely”) I would guess that “homey” is actually a shortened ver

Re: How to ask a question?  •  December 31, 2006, 9:33am  •  0 vote

What is being omitted, especially on message boards, is the question: "Does anyone know.." For instance: "Does anyone know how to get from the airport to downtown?" It's somewhat similar to aski

Re: Impact as a noun  •  November 30, 2006, 1:59pm  •  0 vote

These are some examples of the use of "impact" as a noun cited in Webster Unabridged Dictionary: "air rendered incandescent by the vehemence of the impacts of the electrons against its molecules" -

Re: Neologisms, altered or lost meanings, and lexical monsters  •  September 25, 2006, 3:00pm  •  0 vote

As requested, I added the preview page. I you see any issues with it, please let me know.

Re: First annual vs. second annual  •  September 18, 2006, 12:03pm  •  5 votes

A possible confusion arises because the second time the event is held, it is the first time in a year. Suppose you organize an event at your neighborhood park. You have no intention of repeating it, b

Re: Feeling concern  •  September 15, 2006, 10:38am  •  0 vote

It is interesting that something that is grammatically correct would sound so wrong. This is the difficult part of learning a foreign language; even if you can construct a grammatically correct senten

Re: Feeling concern  •  September 14, 2006, 10:36am  •  0 vote

Hi Janet, Thank you for the clarification, but could you clarify one more thing? Does that mean, "I feel scare" and "I feel worry" are both also grammatically correct?

Re: Feeling concern  •  September 14, 2006, 9:37am  •  0 vote

I guess my question comes down to whether it is correct by virtue of common usage or grammar (or both). If "I feel concern" is grammatically correct, is "I feel scare" also grammatically correct? (The

Re: Parentheses vs. Square Brackets  •  July 24, 2006, 11:22am  •  0 vote

Usually parentheses are for ancillary thoughts whereas square brackets are for editorial notes. In this example above, "read it Money" is a secondary thought he has, and "of dollars" clarifies what th

Re: Interpreting “beyond that already extended”  •  May 24, 2006, 10:58am  •  0 vote

I have a feeling that this is a case where the writer added a superfluous clause, just because the sentence sounded more professional with it.

Re: Using [sic]  •  May 1, 2006, 10:15pm  •  0 vote

This question is really funny to me, not because it is a silly question, but because it is actually a legitimate question. It seems like a double-bind situation where you are screwed either way. Pe

Re: Second and a half generation?  •  April 23, 2006, 11:26am  •  0 vote

This is an interesting question that never occurred to me before. My wife’s father is a first generation Polish immigrant, but her mother is an American with mixed heritage. My wife never calls

Re: “Writers Forum” or “Writers’ Forum”  •  April 18, 2006, 9:21am  •  0 vote

At first, I thought this is an easy question to answer, but upon a Google search for "writers forum", I realized that both are used commonly.

Re: Transcendence  •  April 7, 2006, 12:35pm  •  0 vote

I think his use is appropriate if he means a lawyer who has been enlightened; who has realized that there is more to being a lawyer than power and money. That is, he/she has transcended the ordinary e

Re: What is the word for intentionally incorrect spelling?  •  March 13, 2006, 9:47pm  •  2 votes

Hi porsche, But if you do a search on Google for "nite" or "lite", you will see that there are many company and product names that use those spellings. They have to be intentional, since they go th

Re: What is the word for intentionally incorrect spelling?  •  March 13, 2006, 5:35pm  •  1 vote

I think the most popular ones are "Nite" for night and "Lite" for light. If the word does not exist, this is your opportunity to coin one, which could actually end up in dictionaries. I would su

Re: First Generation vs. Second Generation  •  December 20, 2005, 6:25pm  •  12 votes

The percentage of green card holders is a moot point, but that number does not surprise me. I would expect that. The majority of Green Card holders have no intension of becoming citizens because they

Re: First Generation vs. Second Generation  •  December 19, 2005, 5:37pm  •  32 votes

OK, just to establish the fact that it IS ambiguous, here is the definition of "first-generation" from Merriam-Webster Unabridged: 1 : born in the U.S. -- used of an American of immigrant parentage

Re: First Generation vs. Second Generation  •  December 19, 2005, 5:06pm  •  18 votes

Hi Porsche, "Far more often, the parents aren't naturalized". This is simply not true. You cannot live in this country unless you are a naturalized citizen. I would say 99% of the immigrants who ha

Re: First Generation vs. Second Generation  •  December 19, 2005, 10:16am  •  35 votes

What does “first generation” imply? First generation of what? Isn’t it “first generation American”? If so, someone who immigrated and was naturalized to be an American citizen is the first to be the A

Re: We, I, or my wife had a baby?  •  April 14, 2005, 9:35am  •  0 vote

Hi Speedwell, Yes, thank you. My wife did have a baby.

Re: Life Savers 5 Flavor  •  March 19, 2005, 2:14pm  •  0 vote

Do you see the link for candystand.com? It's right underneath the title "Life Savers 5 Flavor". Right on this page. Right above here.

Re: Life Savers 5 Flavor  •  March 19, 2005, 11:18am  •  0 vote

Hi Dave, You can see the package by clicking on the first link.

Re: you all  •  March 8, 2005, 6:59pm  •  0 vote

The word "you" has no plural form, which I think is the problem. I think "yous" should be a legitimate word.

Re: Tsunami  •  January 11, 2005, 10:47pm  •  0 vote

In Japanese "T" is definitely pronounced. "TSU" and "SU" are two clearly different syllables in Japanese. I should know because my last name is: Suematsu.

Re: Flying (with) Colours?  •  August 10, 2004, 7:04am  •  0 vote

Marta, I keep replying to your email, but you don't seem to get it.

Re: Wiener Coffee  •  July 18, 2004, 11:54pm  •  0 vote

Jun-Dai, I think you raise interesting points here. With personal names, those issues have always existed and everyone deals with them differently. Some people would insist on the correct pronuncia

Re: Wiener Coffee  •  July 18, 2004, 8:23pm  •  0 vote

Speedwell, Tokyo used to be called Edo. I'm not sure about the rest. I can't think of any alternatives for them. Jun-Dai, True, England is Eikoku and the US is Beikoku. I'm not sure where the

Re: Pronouns  •  May 12, 2004, 11:00pm  •  0 vote

This really bothers me too. My rationale is that I am a man, so I use 'he' consistently. I feel that if I were a woman, I would use 'she' consistently. I wish that the government would step in and off

Re: 00′s  •  April 7, 2004, 9:39am  •  0 vote

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/07/dining/07TABL.html New York Times seems to consistently use "80's", apostrophe after the number, before the 's'. Also, there is another thread for this discussi

Re: There is no such a thing as...  •  April 5, 2004, 2:50pm  •  0 vote

http://www.artic.edu/webspaces/fnews/2002-may/mayregulars3.html The very last line. The other one was an email written by an English teacher.

Re: un/ir  •  February 17, 2004, 2:35pm  •  0 vote

This is somewhat off-topic and irrelevant, but the interesting thing about Derrida's use of language is that, though he is "careful", he is deliberately imprecise, because he wants to convey the idea

Re: There were/was an apple and an orange.  •  April 7, 2003, 10:07am  •  1 vote

Hi Earl, I'm not sure if I get what you are saying. By "conjunctive phrase", I suppose you mean the same thing Nathan is referring to. In other words, wind and drizzle are independent phrases, rath

Re: The Reality  •  March 18, 2003, 5:53pm  •  0 vote

Thanks Wynne. I fixed the quotation marks. I'm aware of the rules of quotation marks, but I keep forgetting. I just think it looks so much better when commas and periods are outside of quotes, especia

Re: Matching the tense  •  February 6, 2003, 3:03pm  •  0 vote

Hi Ian L, I'm confused. Since I am NOT focused on when McD is good, are you suggesting that I write: "I argued that McDonald's was good for you." But then, I do mean to say that it is univers

Re: A Few Too Few  •  November 14, 2002, 5:20pm  •  0 vote

Here is my take: "Few" means small number. As in: "there were very few people in the theater." "A few" means 2 or 3. As in: "there were only a few people in the theater."

Re: How old am I?  •  November 14, 2002, 5:18pm  •  0 vote

My take on it is: You are a 38 year old man. And. You are 38 years old. When "year old" is a modifier to "man", it's singular.

Re: Where are the commas?  •  November 13, 2002, 7:42pm  •  1 vote

I actually feel that Strunk's suggestion is superior, especially in the cases like: "You can buy 3 different kinds of film for your camera: slide, black and white, and negative." If you always o

Re: Where are the commas?  •  November 12, 2002, 11:21am  •  2 votes

Now, this is interesting. Everyone I spoke to in the past about this told me not to put comma before "and". But according to Strunk's Elements of Style, "In a series of three or more terms with a sing

Re: Matching Numbers  •  November 12, 2002, 10:20am  •  0 vote

"These computers EACH come with a 40GB drive" When you put "each", you don't need to make the verb singular? i.e. "comes".

Re: A position followed by a company name  •  November 11, 2002, 4:13pm  •  0 vote

The example was misleading. Kinsella is a last name of a person. AS&E is the name of the company. So the question really is: Which is correct: "AS&E chief technology officer Joseph Callerame usher m

Re: Type  •  November 11, 2002, 1:02pm  •  0 vote

Via Gregg: It should be "This type of car".

Re: What is / What are  •  November 11, 2002, 12:49pm  •  0 vote

Fowler's examples: Correct: What are required are faith and confidence, and willingness to work. Incorrect: What is required are faith and confidence, and willingness to work.

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