Questions tagged [phrase-usage]

This tag is for questions about how to use a particular phrase. If your question is a request for a phrase to use, you should use the "phrase-request" tag.

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89 votes
3 answers
821k views

"As following" vs "as follows"

Which of the following sentences is more appropriate? The reasons for these decisions are as following: The reasons for these decisions are as follows: This operator is defined as following: This ...
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  • 1,045
53 votes
7 answers
740k views

Usage "in spite of" and "despite of"

What are the difference between these two prepositions: "despite of" and "in spite of"? And what is the general usage of this two: choose in different situation, followed by etc.
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47 votes
2 answers
201k views

How many meanings does "I am in" have?

I have heard the phrase ‘I am in’ or ‘I am absolutely in’ (and similar variations) several times. As I understand it, it means I agree with the idea and I will join you in your efforts. Recently, I ...
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  • 1,455
43 votes
10 answers
10k views

"I hate red color" or "I hate red": why exactly is the first option ungrammatical

If a person wants to say that the most hated color for him is red (in general, no specific hues implied), could he say: I hate red color. I've found very little results for this sentence at ...
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  • 36.2k
42 votes
4 answers
13k views

Can you please explain this joke: "I'm going bananas is what I tell my bananas before I leave the house"?

Can you please explain this joke: "I'm going bananas is what I tell my bananas before I leave the house"? And another one: "I hate it when my friends ask me to do them a solid especially when I've ...
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38 votes
5 answers
13k views

How should I reply when I answer some question on Stack Exchange sites, people thank me and say it helped?

In order to be polite and answer in a social way I have had some hesitation to choose which phrase I should use. You are welcome. I'm glad it helped. You are welcome. I'm glad I could contribute. You ...
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  • 1,065
38 votes
9 answers
7k views

Your English is better than my <<language>>

I am a native Czech speaker and English is my secondary language. I communicate with foreigners including both English and non-English natives. Sometimes, before we meet in person, I let them know I ...
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38 votes
4 answers
39k views

What does 'the very next day' mean?

In the song, Last Christmas, I heard the phrase "But the very next day." I'm not sure what it was supposed to mean, but from context I guess it's the day after Christmas Is it grammatically correct ...
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  • 2,164
33 votes
6 answers
44k views

"One of THOSE days" vs "one of THESE days"

I don't know exactly when we'll go but we really must visit them one of these / one of those days. When should we use "one of these days" and "one of those days"?
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31 votes
4 answers
4k views

Who decides whether something is standard English or not?

During a chat with a native English-speaking friend, he used the phrase "get on with it". I asked him about it, and he said it is a slang phrase. I looked it up online, and this phrase shows up on ...
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30 votes
7 answers
177k views

What do they mean with "Hi, how are you doing"?

When I was in New York the workers at the counter (in a shop) always said Hi, how are you doing? I was, and still am very confused if they just mean "hello", or actually want to know how I feel. ...
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  • 417
29 votes
6 answers
8k views

What's the meaning of "be broker than the Ten Commandments"?

The meaning of "the Ten Commandments" is clear (see Wikipedia for example). Also, Oxford Dictionaries show "broke" means "Having completely run out of money". But I don't understand the meaning of ...
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  • 5,118
29 votes
4 answers
45k views

Is "rain is falling" entirely wrong?

I thought it was a custom in English to write "it is raining" instead of "rain is falling". Still I don't know why the second construction is wrong. Yet I found a song called Rain is Falling, so I'm ...
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  • 6,271
28 votes
5 answers
6k views

Why do native speakers use the present continuous tense when talking about people in a picture? Why not the past continuous tense?

This is some sentences in a flyer test. I took this photo by the lake last Saturday, Grandma. It looks lovely. Do you know any of these people? Yes, I do. The man who’s reading the newspaper ...
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  • 15.7k
27 votes
10 answers
55k views

Is 'no more' used to mean 'dead' in English?

Do the English or the Americans use no more to mean 'dead'? For example, do they say "He is no more" to mean "He is dead"?
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27 votes
9 answers
16k views

"He is 80 years young"

I've seen statements like "He is 80 years young" in many places. Also, I know that it means the same as He is 80 years old. Now, why do people use 'young' instead of 'old' if it means the same? Or ...
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  • 8,160
27 votes
10 answers
26k views

What defines a native English Speaker?

I think this particular phrase creates a lot of concern in English learners. From general conversation to posts here, we see native speaker a common usage when talking about a person who speaks ...
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  • 6,271
26 votes
13 answers
28k views

Would saying "who is this" in normal tone be rude in an occasion not on the phone?

I am not a native English speaker; I am not sure how to interpret such an event. For example, suppose I approach my friend to say hello; suppose he is together with someone I don't know; suppose this ...
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  • 2,522
25 votes
3 answers
16k views

"Correct me if I'm wrong"

I had always had the impression that when people say, "correct me if I'm wrong", their underlying meaning is not to ask for correction but to stress that, "I'm 100% sure of what I'm saying", ...
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  • 2,122
23 votes
8 answers
7k views

Is "tin foil" for "aluminium foil" deprecated?

In my native language, the stuff is called "aluminium foil". In English, I always heard people use the phrase "tin foil" for that. I adopted that phrase thinking that despite the foil being made of ...
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22 votes
2 answers
4k views

Is it really OK to use "because of"?

I recently learned from a YouTube video that "because of" is not correct. But my friend argues that "because of" is actually correct. Also, I see a lot of people writing and saying "because of". Here'...
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21 votes
7 answers
7k views

What phrase would American English speakers use in place of "Tom, Dick and Harry"?

In Indian English, the phrase "Tom, Dick and Harry" is very prevalent, is used quite frequently in media, movies etc. On the other hand, I don't see it being used as frequently, in American ...
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  • 8,179
21 votes
5 answers
109k views

What does "How come" mean?

Is How come a phrase? What does it mean? Is it formal or informal? British or American? Can I use it in anywhere?
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  • 908
21 votes
4 answers
26k views

How is "better off" different from just "better"?

By definition of Cambridge Dictionaries Online The word 'better' means comparative of good: of a higher quality or more enjoyable than someone or something else By most dictionaries, better off ...
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20 votes
3 answers
15k views

Is the phrase "suit yourself" offensive?

I was using the phrase "suit yourself" quite often since the equivalent in my native language it is a legitimate way to express "do whatever you consider the best." However, when I used this phrase ...
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  • 1,455
19 votes
13 answers
11k views

How do native speakers say 'I have completed all the missions/levels in the game'?

I read on one forum you can say "finish" but that was it, there were no examples. So what I am looking for is how to ask someone if he or she has "gone through" all the missions, played every single ...
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  • 754
19 votes
2 answers
191k views

Does *first of all* always go with *second of all*?

According to Ngram, first of all is twice as popular as firstly, but secondly is a hundred times more popular than second of all. When I present two points, do I have to be consistent in the choice ...
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  • 7,136
19 votes
4 answers
28k views

'learning the ropes' should be followed by which prepositions?

I am trying to use the idiom "learn the ropes" in a sentence as below: I am learning the ropes of my new job. Somehow, this doesn't "feel" right, and I think it should be: I am learning the ...
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18 votes
14 answers
7k views

Does "You little liar" mean "You tell small and not so serious lies" or just "You tell lies in general"?

When do we say "You little liar" and "You big liar"? Do the words "little" and "big" mean what they mean? "You little liar" mean "You tell small ...
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  • 15.7k
18 votes
3 answers
12k views

Can I say "Oh boy" to a girl?

I've known that "Oh boy" is similar to "Oh my goodness", but can I use it when speaking to a girl? Also, what are the popular alternatives?
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18 votes
4 answers
7k views

Man goes with Woman to ensure she is safe on her way to home

There is a stereotype: The man (just one of... not a husband or boy-friend) goes with girl or woman (usually by walk) to "guard" her on her way to home. The question is how he/she says/call this: A ...
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  • 930
18 votes
7 answers
5k views

What is it called when at university there are two subjects being held at the same time?

For example, I need to enroll in two different courses at university, but there is a schedule in which both are held. Is it an 'overlapped schedule' or something similar? Is there a proper expression ...
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18 votes
4 answers
3k views

Usage of "Pet" in "Pet Peeve"

Why would someone want a peeve as a pet? Upon searching for pet peeve, one explanation for the usage of pet was the complaint is adopted like a pet This meaning I can understand in pet project ...
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  • 65.4k
18 votes
5 answers
80k views

Usage of "Rain check"

From time to time I hear the phrase rain check. For instance I have to take a rain check on that. I would say that means I have to get back to you on that issue. How do I use that phrase? ...
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  • 945
18 votes
3 answers
22k views

How is “any more than” used to compare two different situations?

In the following quote by Billy Sunday Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you an automobile. Can anyone please explain/elaborate the usage and ...
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  • 667
16 votes
3 answers
63k views

Using "Contain" vs. "Include" vs. "Consist of" appropriately

I am looking for the differences between contain, include, and consist of; I am interested in precise use of each word in an appropriate context. Aside from their general meaning which implies ...
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  • 1,049
16 votes
5 answers
83k views

Is "Bunch of people" a valid phrase?

Some time ago I was told that use of the expression bunch of people is incorrect. Apparently, bunch should not be used along with people meaning group of people. But the problem is that I can hear ...
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  • 3,051
15 votes
7 answers
14k views

What is the correct word for "turn off lamp" for a non-electric lamp?

We often say turn off the lights. Is it correct to say turn off the lamp when referring to a non-electric lamp (lit by fire)? That doesn't sound proper. Which is the better phrase to use there?
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15 votes
9 answers
3k views

Is there a word for immediate future just like "just" for immediate past?

Let's say, Someone asks me Are you having dinner right now? But right now I have an important call to make, so I say Not right now but I will have it in 4-5 minutes. Even though I say 4-5 ...
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  • 8,179
15 votes
9 answers
48k views

"Do the needful" -- Why is it used instead of asking a question?

Update: (Originally this was a comment, but I thought it was worth sharing here at the top.) In the original question, I asked if there was a polite, socially-acceptable way to ask an Indian co-...
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15 votes
2 answers
169k views

Differences between 'till now', 'as of now','yet', 'up till now'

I have seen phrases like the following: Till now Yet Up till now As of now Is there any difference between their usage and meaning, or do they have the same meaning?
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14 votes
10 answers
8k views

He is honest (9 out of 10). How to construct a phrase in which a person's honesty is scored on a scale?

I'd like to describe a person that he is a honest person and add how honest he is but couldn't figure out. How can I say this? He is honest on the scale of 9 out of 10. Is this correct? Or is ...
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  • 613
14 votes
6 answers
7k views

The phrase "to the Right of Attila the Hun"

Recently I have come to the phrase "to the Right of Attila the Hun" which allegedly describes the very conservative or reactionary person. Is it possible to construct similar phrases such as: "to the ...
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  • 8,603
14 votes
10 answers
3k views

Why is the verb form "am been" always grammatically incorrect?

As I understand it, "I am been" is a sentence similar to "I am mistaken". How can one of the sentences in the two sentences of similar structure be incorrect? Doesn't "I am been" mean that someone is ...
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  • 1,713
13 votes
9 answers
3k views

Is it correct to say "I fixed the towel with a peg"?

I have a bath towel but it is not long enough for me to to tie a knot in the towel or let me tuck its edge in the bath towel itself. For that reason, I need to use a peg to get the towel in a fixed ...
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  • 15.7k
13 votes
7 answers
6k views

What does 'do steak and chips' mean?

The sentence I took from my English course exercise: 'What are we going to eat?' 'Well, I can do steak and chips.' I don't think that do steak and chips literally means the speaker will make those ...
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  • 4,720
13 votes
7 answers
4k views

Is it correct to say "his wife ghosted him although they lived in the same house"?

The dictionary says ghost somebody: to suddenly stop all communication with somebody, usually online, in order to end a relationship so, according to the dictionary, we often say "someone ...
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  • 15.7k
13 votes
8 answers
3k views

What do you call a place where certain ideas are prevalent?

What noun could I use? "Hotbed"? "Hotspot"? Please don't mention the expression "safe state". The city was hardly a liberal __________: the conservatives have won five ...
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13 votes
6 answers
5k views

What is the logic behind "I am X years old"?

In most languages (I know of), people say their age with a construction like "I have X years". In English, however, you say how old you are instead. So I'm curious about what is it about the ...
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  • 1,379
13 votes
4 answers
6k views

Is it rude to say "Speak of the devil- Here is Grandma now!"?

I saw the movie "Love Hard" yesterday. In the film, the little brother hates his big brother. The little brother is at home and suddenly he hears his big brother's voice when the big brother ...
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  • 15.7k

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