Questions tagged [idiomatic-language]

is for questions about whether or not a particular phrase or sentence is a usual or common way that fluent English speakers might express something.

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Rephrase consecutive relative clauses with the relative pronoun 'that'

Sometimes I tend to use multiple relative clauses (especially with the relative pronoun 'that') after the same antecedent to provide a chain of information. However, I don't know if it sounds natural ...
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Since I hadn't had much chance to communicate with you...?

I'm asking for my guidance counselor to write me a recommendation letter for a college application but since we haven't had much conversation, so I wanted to say "Since I hadn't had much chance to ...
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Is 'puts it on speaker' the most natural way to expess when...?

Jeff's phone rings. It's Billy. He doesn't pick the phone up, just answers, and puts it on speaker. Jeff: Hi, Billy. Is 'puts it on speaker' the most natural way to express this? And is it enough ...
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What is the difference between "the one thing" and "only thing"?

Do "the one thing" and "only thing" mean the same? Consider the following: Basketball is the one thing that X is can do and Y cannot. Basketball is the only thing that X is can do ...
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No, it's someone else / it's another one

A - One of my clients has decided to drop out. B - Was that the man you told me about? A - No, it's someone else / it's another one. What would be idiomatic here?
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wasn't (anything/something) for you

Let's say I invited a friend of mine to the yoga class I take. He shows up the first time, but not the second. When I see him again after that, I ask him... So you decided it wasn't for you, huh? Is ...
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14 views

Is 'Is it here?' clear and idiomatic

Person 1: I don't live here in the city. Person 2: You don't? What about your job? Is it here? Person 1: Yes. Would 'is it here?' be clear and idiomatic in the context to mean 'in the city'? Or would ...
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26 views

Did he tell/ask you to say that?

Guy: If you ask me, Jack is the perfect man. Woman Jack is dating: Did he tell/ask you to say that? Which of 'tell' and 'ask' would be more idiomatic here?
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Is "assess" appropriate here?

(One is in a coma) Doctor: Unfortunately nothing gives us reason to believe that his condition will improve, but cases like this are never easy to assess and therefore we can't say anything with ...
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1 answer
21 views

Is "bringing it up" perfect in this context?

Is bringing it up perfect in this particular context? A: So when did he let you know he was dating your ex? B: He didn't really. Not until recently. A: Didn't you talk to him? B: I ran into him a few ...
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Would it be idiomatic to use 'then' where I have in this sentence?

A: Do you think he's in heaven? B: Yes. A: Then he's together with Grandma. Would it be completely idiomatic to use then where I have in the sentence? (to mean in that case; therefore.)
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He was nervous to start. / He was nervous about starting

Hope someone can help me. (Talking about school) He was nervous to start, but I think it's going OK. Is "to start" correct/natural if he was nervous to start school, you know, before he ...
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<Live by one's age> VS <Live based on one's age> VS <Live according to one's age>

Can we use the phrases "Live by one's age", "Live based on one's age" and "Live according to one's age" interchangeably to mean living in a way that represents your age? ...
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"The Lakers have been winning in a row"

I wonder if we can say, "in a row" without specifying how many times in a row. For example, do you think sentences like the ones below can be said by native speakers? The Lakers have been ...
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Is it grammatical to omit "way" like this?

In Serenity (2005), Malcolm says to Simon: Malcolm: We'll be on Beaumonde in 10 hours' time, you can pick up your earnings and be on your merry. Is it grammatical to omit "way" like this ?
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Is "depending on whom of" idiomatic?

The curiosity you held for the future depending on whom of your friends you killed had manifested itself in a bloodthirsty streak. Depending on whom of these people you choose, you shall also be ...
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Is the sentence "Indian guy cooks so well that Gordon Ramsay calls his mother to judge the food" ambiguous?

I came across a YouTube video with the title "Indian guy cooks so well that Gordon Ramsay calls his mother to judge the food." I thought Gordon Ramsay called his own mother, not the ...
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When narratng a story of the past, why use "would" instead of a simple past verb?

Although I understand that "would" is the past tense form of "will", I don't understand why sometimes it is used in a place where a simple past would be more apt. This is ...
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"He was swindled with the promise of..."

Let's say someone took someone's money or property promising them something in return, but they swindled them. What is the correct collocation to use with "swindle" if we want to say what ...
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413 views

Is "on the higher side" a meaningful phrase?

I was documenting a software feature for an internal audience and I wrote: "...when the character count is on the higher side." Here, I wanted to mean a case where the number of characters ...
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Stay for the second half

I'm watching a basketball game on TV with a friend of mine at my place. When the first half ends my friend says he'd better be going. I want him to stay so I ask: Are you sure you don't want to stay ...
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21 views

"Stopped with" or "stopped"?

He stopped with the clown act as soon as the mother screamed in rage as he was about to pull a rabbit out of his large pants. He stopped the clown act as soon as the mother screamed in rage as he was ...
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What do we do with a benchmark?

Considering the concept of a benchmark, in the sense of a single point of reference. What does one say, when, for example, a person has achieved a score that is higher than some benchmark score? I ...
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28 views

A better alternative to "in order for X to"

He can swing his arm fast enough in order for him to swim faster than Michael Phelps. "In order for him to" sounds a bit too familiar and doesn't sound too idiomatic, is there a better ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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Will "be" be natural in the sentence?

Hostage to another hostage: Calm down, okay? The police are negotiating with our captors. We'll soon be out of here. Does the last sentence seem perfectly natural to you? Or would it only be natural ...
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25 views

"straight out" means the same thing as "in a straight line"?

The bristles protruded straight out of the head of the cleaner. The bristles protruded in a straight line out of the head of the cleaner. I want to know if they both means the same thing or not and ...
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1 vote
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12 views

a cool/chilled experience

This is a cool experience This is a chilled experience Are both sentences above on the usage of a cool/chilled experience, grammatical and idiomatic?
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1 vote
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28 views

Is this a natural way of asking someone to confirm their name? "Frank, was it?"

Frank, was it? Listen, Frank... I believe I've heard something like this said. Is it natural? Is it asked for someone to confirm their name?
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1 vote
3 answers
87 views

leave again. Is it correct to add "again"?

Two men step into the room, look around, find nothing, and leave again. Writing "again" sounds natural to me even though it's not like they have left the room one time before, but I'm not a ...
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1 vote
1 answer
37 views

How should I (know)?

Question: Do you know who it could be? Response: How the hell should I (know)? Would it be natural to leave out (know) in the response?
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1 answer
32 views

To show that I'm sorry

I hope you all can forgive me. My behavior was completely out of line. I brought some chocolates to show that I'm sorry. Is it natural to say "to show that I'm sorry."? And could it be said ...
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55 views

When we have a clear context, can we omit words, phrases, clauses, or even sentences?

My question: When we have a clear context, can we omit words, phrases, clauses, or even sentences? Because I think they are sometimes too long or kind of wordy. Is there a rule of thumb or something ...
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1 vote
1 answer
32 views

Is the sentence natural?

Woman: We separated two months ago. And it was not my decision. Friend: I'm so sorry. What happened? Did he find someone else? Woman: No. Friend: So why does he not want to be with you anymore? Is the ...
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1 vote
2 answers
36 views

Move off/Head off/Leave

Tom is at a party, hanging at the bar. A guy he knows, Matt, comes up to him to say hi. They talk, then - Matt: Well, it's good to see you again. Enjoy the party. Tom: Thank you. Matt moves off/heads ...
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1 vote
2 answers
52 views

Is "I lost it" clear without adding more to it?

I lost my temper and started yelling at them. It was unforgiveable. I lost it and I shouldn't have. Is the phrase "I lost it" clear without adding more to it? Is it perfectly natural to use ...
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1 vote
0 answers
43 views

You know how many they/there are?

Two people are talking about some hostage-takers. One of them asks the other: "You know how many they are?" Is it possible to say "they" here? Or should it be: "You know how ...
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1 vote
0 answers
36 views

"Was" or "Were" (Subjunctive mood)

In a story I'm writing a bad guy says this: I would probably kill myself if I was/were disabled like you. Elsewhere in the story I write this: He smiles as if it was/were a compliment. Questions: Is ...
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1 vote
0 answers
192 views

In that vs with that

He seems to agree with most of us in that they're trying to conquer the world. He seems to agree with most of us with that they're trying to conquer the world. We say "agree with the idea", but in ...
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Is "it's been" correct here?

A: Rough day? B: No, it's been fine. A: OK. B: You? A: Fine. It's just been long. 1) This conversation is close to midnight, so the day is almost over. In that case is "it's been" natural? 2) ...
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1 vote
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27 views

Someone else/another

They fight a lot. 1) Then let's hope she finds someone else soon. 2) Then let's hope she finds another boyfriend soon. 3) Then let's hope she finds herself another boyfriend soon. In this example ...
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1 vote
1 answer
254 views

I was thinking or I thought

I [was thinking/thought], if you were interested, you could come over to dinner Saturday. Does using "I was thinking" sound as a more spontaneous invite/idea than using "I thought"...
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1 vote
0 answers
16 views

Using "now" with the past tense

I'm confused because I think the use of word "now" is kind of idiomatic in phrase 1, but on the other hand I think it should be as phrase 2. So, is it normal to use "now" with the past simple ???? 1-...
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1 vote
1 answer
27 views

Is it natural to ask "Is it good" about a cafe?

A: I own a cafe downtown. You should try it out. B: Yeah? Is it good? Is asking "is it good?" natural here?
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1 vote
0 answers
29 views

Does "probably" sound natural in this context?

When he was put in a coma, was it clear from the beginning that he probably wouldn’t make it? Or what did the doctors tell you? Is "probably" natural to use here? Is it placed correctly?
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1 vote
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363 views

Are both "out of the city" and "outside the city" correct and natural?

Where do you live? A bit out of the city. / A bit outside the city. Are both these correct? Are they equally natural?
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35 views

The call of hawkers

How do peddlers or hawkers in English speaking regions draw the attention of the people in the street? I mean how do they make their calls? Is this the way? Here comes pen seller! Pens! Here ...
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1 vote
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84 views

in the new setting/surroundings

James and the drunk enter the pizza place. Gordon's there. Gordon: Who's that? James: Oh, that's Shots. Gordon: Shots? James: Yeah. I don't know his real name. I'm not sure he does either. He's ...
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1 vote
1 answer
66 views

Care/Care about

Psychiatrist: As a psychiatrist it can be depressing listening to clients' problems all day, but that's the job. Person: So is it just a job to you or do you actually care? Psychiatrist: I care. Is ...
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1 vote
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The usage of "also": is it idiomatic put "also" at the end of a sentence in writing?

This video (https://youtu.be/38-K2rPu8fc?t=167) is talking about the usage of "also" and gives this example She wrote three emails to him but he didn't answer, he ignored her calls as well. And ...
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addicted to drink coffee

Are the following sentences idiomatic and mean the same thing? I am addicted to drink coffee I am addicted to drinking coffee I am addicted to coffee drinking
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