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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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This sentence:

“By securing a permanent US commitment to the defence of all its members from 1949 onwards, Nato changed the calculus confronting potential aggressors.”

appeared in this Daily Telegraph article.

I think I grasp what the author is getting at, but it does seem a most unusual and perhaps incorrect use of “calculus.”

Or am I behind the times once again?

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Can anyone tell me when and how the adding of “ish” to the end of words got started? Do we lack such confidence in ourselves that we need to add “ish” like a disclaimer to our own words? When has the word become not word enough?

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Why do people feel it necessary to add “of” to some phrases?

For example:

How big of a problem.
How long of a wait.
How bad of a decision.

Seems rather a waste of time.

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When including a complete sentence in parentheses, what are the rules? For example, someone just sent me this in an email:

“I always change some of the readings from semester to semester (for example, I am trying out the book on migration for the first time this semester and am not sure if I will keep it in the Fall).”

But I could just as easily see it written this way:

“I always change some of the readings from semester to semester. (For example, I am trying out the book on migration for the first time this semester and am not sure if I will keep it in the Fall.)”

Are both acceptable? Is one preferred? 

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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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“We have to go to the store yet.”

I would just remove the “yet” all together; however, I keep hearing someone use the word yet in this fashion and I am wondering if they are grammatically correct.

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When making a list of the very same name of something, is it proper english to use one quotation mark in place of the same name or word after writing it a couple of times down the list? I can’t seem to find anything on it.

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Is it alright to omit the word “I” in some cases. If I have already been writing about myself and I slip in a sentence that says for example, “Will be in town next week.” Is this acceptable or should I write “I” at the beginning of each sentence?

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I want to play a Star Wars video review as listening practice for an EFL student. However, it contains a strange construction that I can’t figure out how to explain: “Now, the question most likely on your mind, be you Jedi or be you Sith, is...”

I know that it would be easy enough to say, “It means ‘whether you are Jedi or Sith,’” but I wonder if there’s a better explanation.

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Latest Comments

Neither is or neither are

  • Edinrin
  • February 17, 2018, 10:42am

'Neither are' is correct
For example: neither are to blame for the damage done.

well, actually, grammar rules themselves don't exist. there has never been any set rules, because the "rules" depend on how a majority decides to speak, and they change as the years go by. "ain't" used to be considered grammatically correct and was used by rich English folk, but when "commoners" started using it, they decided it wasn't proper English. this fact won't change how society treats grammar (like it's friggin LAW), but I feel like we should all be more lax and just use whatever feels right to us. I mean, soon, "I did good on my test" will be considered proper grammar.

On Tomorrow

It’s a church thing. I’m willing to bet that the people heard saying “on tomorrow” are heavily influenced by the church. Church folk are the people I’ve ever heard say it.

There is a male coworker that when ever he speaks to the females in our office always starts with "Heyyy name, how's it going?" Is it just me, i feel it is so disrespectful and annoying. What are your thoughts?

Past tense of “text”

  • Monocle
  • February 15, 2018, 7:06am

The past tense of Text is Text.

Past tense of “text”

Just hard for me to believe,"texted" would be proper. Just saying ????????????????????

gifting vs. giving a gift

  • marina1
  • February 14, 2018, 11:12am

I'm so glad to read that others are annoyed at this shift of "gift" to an unnecessary verb!
I am also irritated by the ubiquitous use of " no problem" to every request in the service industry. When was it considered a problem to ask a sales person, or wait person question? It's a double negative. Wouldn't a simple, "happy to help," be more positive?!

“Liquid water”?

Modeling of Coupled Water and Heat Transfer in
Freezing and Thawing Soils, Inner Mongolia

One article for your reference. I am having atleast 100 other examples. Best Wishes

“Liquid water”?

Your observation is very correct. That is a question which I have been looking answer for.

It is not only cosmology, please check articles on Planetary science, Crystallography, Geophysics, Glaciology, Permafrost, Ice crystals in soil etc. everywhere they use the term liquid water. Probably it is in order to differentaite the state of water but it is not required as water is actually liquid, else we refer it as crystal, ice, snow or vapour. Thanks for asking this question and to all others please read before answering. Just google it or preferably search it on researchgate or google scholar..best wishes

There are many who have ancestors of European descent in North America and Britain who've known this for thousands of years. Personally, I've never heard any white people pronounce 'street' as 'schreet' but I cannot dispute this either nor will I do this. There are two answers to this concerning the white people who pronounciate certain words as so. 1) Some are deliberately 'mispronouncing' certain words that they know they can pronounce correctly. 2) Some actually have the tongue to pronounce these words as such beyond their control. I won't post the reasons why numbers 1 and 2 is possible (in the case of both, black people are included as well), you'll just have to think about it.