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Discussion Forum

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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Latest Posts

I’m reviewing a New Zealand scientific report which uses the word ‘equivalency’. This sounds to me like an Americanisation of the word ‘equivalence’, both being nouns but with the redundancy of an additional syllable in ‘equivalency’.

As we use British English (despite word processing software trying to force American English upon us) I’m inclined to use ‘equivalence’.  What do you think?

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It grates every time I hear a local radio traffic reporter say “there is an accident just prior to the Erindale Rd turn-off.” 

I believe I’m right in thinking the word ‘prior’ is more correctly used in a time context, meaning earlier than or sooner than. 


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In American Grammar specifically, there is a somewhat new trend of referring to a singular collective as a plural noun. For example, “The band are playing at the Hall tonight.” To which I want to reply “It are?” While the British and Canadians have never understood the concept of singular collectives such as large companies or the aforementioned musical groups known by a name such as Aerosmith or Saint Motel, but why is this becoming popular in America where singular collectives have been referred to, until recently, as a singular entity? It’s on the radio, it’s on TV commercials and even in print. Are singular collectives now plural?

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Hi everyone, I’ve got an interesting question from my student:

Trump’s “ask the gays” statement:

- what exactly is wrong with it grammatically?


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I would like to know if it is correct to use the adjective “key” predicatively. I was taught that this word is like the adjective “main,” which can only be used in the attributive position. I’ve seen sentences like “This is key to the success of the plan,” but I remember typing something similar and the word processor marked it immediately as wrong. I think both “key” and “main” are special, (irregular, if you want) adjectives (in fact, they have no comparative forms) and feel they should be treated accordingly. I’ve never seen something like “This book is main in our course.” We will normally say “This is the main book in our course.” Thank you for your help!

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Could somebody please explain the problem with “as such”? I understand the frustration with its incorrect usage as a synonym for “therefore” or “thus”, but the response thereagainst wants to banish its usage entirely. I am confident that I am using it correctly, but I am constantly being directed to remove it from my papers nevertheless. Could you explain its proper usage?

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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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Is it escaped prison or escaped from prison?

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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.”

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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Latest Comments

“she” vs “her”

Well if you remove "and I" it should make a proper sentence. So if you remove "and I" from "her and I went" it says her went. Which doesn't make sense, but she went does.

couple vs couple of

This discussion is irksome. First of all, why is it that we have become so apathetic to maintaining a standard? If we allow some things to slip by as "an evolving language," how do we decide which things to allow? This usage, "couple times," or "couple different," is a slippery little slope. I think allowing students, in particular, to use this...colloquialism/slang when writing formal papers is a massive mistake. Keeping it simple and devoid of existential discussion, it is a matter of simple mechanics. "Couple," according to Merriam Webster, is NOT an adjective, nor adverb nor a word of any other sort than this: it is a NOUN. Therefore, using it without "of," is, plainly, incorrect. For the sake of consistency, if you are a teacher, please do not let this "little thing" slip by. That is all.

Fora vs Forums

  • jan1
  • August 15, 2017, 4:16pm

Hi can someone please translate this for me

When the well is dry, we know the worth of water.


The comment begins with the urge to “fuck French, fuck Latin, fuck Greek”. I thought this was an academic debate about whether or not to reduce the amount of foreign words in the English language, not an opportunity to insult other people and their languages. If this particular commentator feels like “fucking” a language, he can always “fuck” his own.

Hey just a heads up, I am totally not trolling you. Looks like you have a typo on the word equipment in this article. and you also have an ad about proofreading. I'd hate for you to lose business because of the typo.

As wet as ?

as wet as water

If he were alive, he would be 60 today.

If he had been alive, he would have been 60 yesterday.

But it's hard to see what the difference in meaning is.

Past tense of “text”

When one says, "I text John the other day," it sounds ridiculous!!! There are all kinds of words that serve as nouns and verbs. For example, take the word permit: "The permit was signed by the official." Here we have the word used as a noun. As a verb, we add th suffix "ed" to it like so: "The teacher permitted the student to use the restroom." Why is there even a discussion on this issue?!

Past tense of “text”

aided, braided, crated, decided, faked, gated, hiked, jeered, kicked, licked, mated, noted, prattled, quibbled, rested, stated, tested, urinated, voted, waited, AND TEXTED!!!!!

Past tense of “text”

decided, raided, braided, caged, flogged, graded, hiked, jailed, kicked, loaned, mailed, nailed, prattled, rested, tested, voted, waded...AND TEXTED!!!