Your Pain Is Our Pleasure
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March 17, 2003
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"The life of the people" is the collective social life of the people, as in "The life of the Hopi is still largely communal," or "The life of the medieval peasant was a hard one." If you turn it around and say "medieval peasants had hard lives," it pretty much means the same thing.
I apologize for the English language, but there isn't a great deal of difference between the following phrases:
I am in control of the ship. I am in full control of the ship. I have the ship under control. I have control of the ship. I have the controls.
The last phrase is the only one with a significantly different meaning. "I have the controls" means "I am the person operating the control mechanisms," but doesn't necessarily imply that that person is in control of anything else that's going on. You can have the controls and still be no more than a pair of hands executing someone else's verbal orders.
The job title lost its initial article, not because it was preceded by the name of the company, but because it was followed by the name of the jobholder. This becomes clearer when you remember that "Senator" is likewise a job title:
The Senator walked into the room. The CTO walked into the room.
Senator Foghorn Leghorn walked into the rom. CTO Ferdy Longbottom walked into the room.
If you separate the job title from the jobholder's name by inserting a comma between them, the job title stops being part of the person's name and gets its initial article back:
The CTO, Ferdy Longbottom, walked into the room.
Dariensan nailed it: some text (the words on one or several pages in a book), a text (the whole book), some texts (several whole books).
May I offer a slight emendation to that?
"Much" and "a lot of" are synonyms, though "much" is getting to be a tad archaic. It survives in forms like "has much to offer."
"Too much" and "a lot of" are not synonyms. "Too much" signifies excess, superfluity; whereas "a lot of" just means "a lot of", without any judgement about whether it's an appropriate quantity.
Dariensan's explanation of "much" vs. "many" is entirely correct.
You only say "in futures" if you work in futures trading.
You can say either "in future" or "in the future". The tendency is to use "in future" to refer to relatively limited actions -- "In future, please address all such correspondence to our customer service department" -- and "in the future" to refer to broader situations: "In the future, all cars will run on a mixture of vodka and cider vinegar."
Biks is right about the hyphenation. The rule there is that "38-year-old" is a compound adjective -- a group of words functioning as a single adjective -- and therefore hyphenated. Other examples: a coke-bottle-shaped vase; a full-throttle spread-eagle spare-no-expense business presentation.
There's an older way to say that: "It lacks five minutes of ten." That is, you're five minutes short of ten o'clock. When that got shortened in everyday use, the answer to "What time is it?" became "It's five minutes of ten."
There's a functional difference. "In itself" is a more ambiguous construction, and will occasionally get you into trouble where "in and of itself" won't.
"In" gets used so many ways, in so many different combinations, that if you don't clarify its function by using the "in and of" construction, it can erroneously appear to be teamed up with the wrong word: "The fish the dog brought in itself wasn't the problem."
Purple Dragon's right again. A potboiler is a commercial project of no great moral or aesthetic significance that smooths out the jagged valleys of a freelancer's income.
I didn't know until this moment that painters use the term too. I know it from freelance writers.
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