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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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I recently saw the trailer of “Anne of Green Gables”, and the Marilla character can clearly be heard saying that she is expecting an orphan boy from “Nova Scotia”, but she pronounces that “ti” inn a very strange way. It sounded like “Scothia” or “Scozia”, I couldn’t tell. Is this an alternative pronunciation for the usual “SCO-SHA”?

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Since ye is you’s plural, are yer, ye’re and yers respectively your, you’re and yours pluralized, and/or do they have other plural counterparts?

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Is there an English word that means ‘to fall asleep’? Since there’s a word, ‘awaken’, that denotes ‘to wake up’, I’m wondering if ‘awaken’’s antonym exists.

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Can every letter in the English language be used in a silent way? Like the b in numb? But at least one example for all 26 letters. Kind of a nerdy question but has anyone succeeded? I have tried and failed... Don’t ask why!

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Americans typically make fun of Canadians, claiming that “out and about” is pronounced as “oot and aboot” (personally I can’t hear it). So if that is the case, what do Americans hear when Canadians actually say “oot and aboot”? What does Canadian “boot” sound like to an American?

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Is conversate a word? Many people use it and some people claim it’s not a word but I found it on online dictionaries.

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I want to write as follows, but it is confusing.:

This modern society, which is increasingly being globalized and opening to the world, demands the attitude of understanding different countries and respecting different culture on the basis of broad knowledge of various places of the world of students of this era.

The above ‘s structure is as follows:

The modern society demands something of somebody.

Here, something is [the attitude of understanding different countries and respecting different culture on the basis of broad knowledge of various places of the world], and somebody is [students of this era]

The setence structure can be simplified as follows:

This modern society, which is increasingly being globalized and opening to the world, demands [the attitude of understanding different countries and respecting different culture on the basis of broad knowledge of various places of the world] of [students of this era].

I am not sure in such a case, how I should write it. One solutin may be this?

This modern society, which is increasingly being globalized and opening to the world, demands, of [students of this era], [the attitude of understanding different countries and respecting different culture on the basis of broad knowledge of various places of the world].

Please help me, thank you very much.

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Heard this in park: Whose car is it? It is one of his girlfriends.

If it were just: It is one of his girlfriend’s, or: It is one of his girlfriends’, it might be easier to interpret this sentence.

As it was said, there are several degrees of uncertainty involved. Can you guess how many?

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I’m trying to apply a consistent style to a teacher training website and am battling the Capital Letter Police on a few issues.

I’ve culled capital letters for nouns such as “teacher” and “headteacher” unless we refer it as part of a job title.

Now I am left with names of meetings and forms that have traditionally been capitalised, but I’m not sure they need to be. Should such things be capitalised if they are being discussed generally? Eg:

“You should undertake three observed teaching sessions each year and keep a record of the feedback received on a teaching feedback form.”

or

“You should undertake three Observed Teaching Sessions each year and keep a record of the feedback received on a Teaching Feedback Form.”

And: “Download a teaching feedback form (link to PDF).” or “Download a Teaching Feedback Form (link to PDF).”

Any advice?

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How is the past tense of text PRONOUNCED? “Texted” It is said as “text-ed” in a bank’s TV commercial and sounds so inappropriate to me. Why wouldn’t it be pronounced “texted”? Does anyone know the rule on this one? Why would one say “they just text-ed me back...” sounds like ill use of the verb to me!

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Latest Comments

eat vs. have breakfast

  • Rukfas
  • October 17, 2017, 5:16pm

I have another question, but related to this: is the word breakfast a verb? That is, can we say 'I breakfasted eggs this morning.'? Or for that matter, can we say '- What are you doing? -I'm breakfasting,' instead of 'I'm having a breakfast.'? Thanks

Complete Sentence

Is asking "John Smith?" a full sentence?

agree the terms

Finebetty's research seems to settle the question. But as an American user of the language I will not be saying "agree the terms" anytime soon.

The reason the verb "to be" is an exception is that its meaning makes it equivalent to an equal sign. "It is I." means: It = I.

Both "It" and "I" are co-equal subjects of the sentence. There is no object. The subject of a sentence, in this case both subjects, require the nominative case.

Contrast this with the sentence : "It hit me." The subject "it" acts upon the object "me," so the objective case is required.

Another example of the exception with the verb "to be", which may be surprising, is: "It was we." This is the correct usage for the same reason, however in common usage, most people say, "It was us," which is technically incorrect.

agree the terms

'Agree' can be used intransitively and transitively. According to Merriam Webster, your example is "chiefly British" - which I guess means it does come up but is rare in the US whereas it is standard in British English (and not "bad form" at all, please note that 'agree to the terms' changes the meaning, 'agree on or upon' is the only option here).
Oxford dict:
2.1 with object Reach agreement about (something) after negotiation.
‘if they had agreed a price the deal would have gone through’
no object ‘the commission agreed on a proposal to limit imports’
https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/agree

MW:
transitive verb
2. chiefly British: to settle on by common consent
e.g. … I agreed rental terms with him … —Eric Bennett
https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/agree

(the 'before' in your example does not belong to 'agreed' of course - i.e., it means 'must be agreed upon before...')

Worst Case or Worse Case

  • Eric F
  • October 11, 2017, 2:39pm

"worse-case" is a comparison between TWO degrees of tribulation. Which one of the TWO options is worse than the other?
"worst-case" implies that there are many degrees of tribulation, and it is the worst of many options.

For LaurenBC: I find it's useful to read previous comments before posting. For example, Warsaw Will on June 6, 2014, contributed a lengthy discussion of the idiom's history and defense which included the fact that it's been seen in British written texts as early as 1859.

So the phrase is not of recent origin and is now widely accepted. I think fewer folks are bothered by it than by, say, the use of multiple question marks (or exclamation points in declarative sentences) in online posts.

“went missing/gone missing”?

This expression (and its variations) drives me crazy. It’s right up there with “the reason being” instead of “the reason is” or, more simply, “because “!

The English language is getting slaughtered ????

Lego (the bricks) should be lego in both singular and plural, like fish or sheep.

Word in question: Conversate

douglas.bryant

In your rush to discredit 'conversate' you're grossly misusing 'dialectical':

dialectical | ˌdīəˈlektək(ə)l |
adjective
1 relating to the logical discussion of ideas and opinions: dialectical ingenuity.
2 concerned with or acting through opposing forces: a dialectical opposition between social convention and individual libertarianism.