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Questions tagged [phrases]

A phrase is a group of words that make a unit of syntax with a single grammatical function.

41
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6answers
28k views

'Ask away' - what does 'away' mean?

“Sir,” said Harry, reminding himself irresistibly of Voldemort, “I wanted to ask you something.” “Ask away, then, my dear boy, ask away. . . .” In this sentence, I don't know what does 'away' ...
25
votes
5answers
4k views

Is it proper to use “broke” in “Broke his feelings”?

My colleague broke his feelings. (English Syntax and Argumentation, Bas Aarts) Aarts says this sentence is abnormal, because of the selectional restrictions: ‘feelings’ is abstract and not proper ...
19
votes
5answers
3k views

What is the meaning of “taking in each other's washing”

Of course your existence matters to other people—your parents and others who care about you—but taken as a whole, their lives have no point either, so it ultimately doesn't matter that you matter ...
19
votes
4answers
70k 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?
16
votes
3answers
59k views

“I am hurting” in the meaning of “I am hurt”? Why?

Once in a while I hear someone use the phrase I am hurting. It appears to mean I am hurt, not I am hurting you. For example, consider the text on this drawing: When and why is it correct to say I'm ...
14
votes
4answers
7k views

The meaning of “I’m very cheap”?

Woman: I didn't know you were coming back. Man: I wasn't, but I had made an appointment at the hair salon before I left, and they don't do refunds for cancellations. I'm very cheap. What does "I’...
13
votes
6answers
26k views

Why is “many a man” singular while “many men” plural?

Recently I came to know that there is a construction "Many a man" which is equivalent to "many men". But I also noticed that the former construction is considered as singular, e.g. Many a man has ...
12
votes
8answers
4k views

Is there a negative counterpart of the phrase “thanks to”?

The thing to which the phrase "thanks to" is attributed usually produces positive consequence. I wonder if there is a negative counterpart. EDIT: Many thanks. I have now learned that thanks to can ...
11
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5answers
4k views

“[A] voice that bored a thousand ships into sinking themselves”

Still a line from "The Marvelous Ms. Maisel" The character said: And Stan... who has a voice that bored a thousand ships into sinking themselves. I was totally lost about this phrase.
11
votes
2answers
316 views

Is there a saying like “something still bites me”?

It's a recurring issue for me that I can't completely remember a saying. In this case I think I've heard someone using something like: I've interrogated him and he seems to have an alibi. Something ...
10
votes
3answers
4k views

Can traffic lights “turn red” for ten minutes?

I've been learning Indonesian with Indonesian pod 101 and I'm afraid in learning bad English meanwhile. Is this sentence correct? "Lisa, so sorry. The traffic jam was awful, and all the traffic ...
10
votes
2answers
2k views

Using “A cold yesterday” as noun phrase

In this Google Books search for "a cold yesterday", I found "Johnny had a cold yesterday." Is this usage correct? Can we use "quality-adjective + adverbial noun" to make "noun group"?
10
votes
4answers
1k views

How to understand “bomb the expletive out of something”? Is that an idiomatic expression?

I came across this sentence with a strange use of the word "expletive", Trump has variously expressed enthusiasm for outsourcing the fight against the Islamic State to Vladimir Putin and for ...
10
votes
1answer
2k views

Meaning of “Cling to Life”

The Windows phones still clinging to life are not Microsoft's. Does "clinging to life" mean "existing" here?
10
votes
1answer
5k views

Is it correct to say 'It takes 2 hours, 4 hours top'?

I'd have expected it should rather be 2 hours, 4 hours max. So can top in this context be used like a synonym for max? Is this a common phrase?
9
votes
4answers
19k views

“My sister and I” versus “I and my sister”

I've been told to put "I" at the last part of the subject, as in "My sister and I walk to school." Is saying "I and my sister walk to school." wrong?
9
votes
1answer
488 views

What does the sign mean: this sidewalk to be closed on or about

I saw a road sign that said: this sidewalk to be closed on or about. I am not sure what this means.
8
votes
10answers
3k views

How do I say car is tilting/leaning in one direction in parking spot?

Often parking spots have straight lines between which you have to park your car, parallel to the line. However, let's say, I see a car a parked diagonally between the two lines. How would I ...
8
votes
3answers
1k views

“Watch the step” without stairs

When travelling on trains in the USA, I have noticed a sign saying "watch the step" close to the exit. I thought it was referring to stairs, but nowhere close to the exit I have seen stairs. I also ...
8
votes
5answers
4k views

What do you call it when someone searches through your stuff?

This is one of the things that I don't really know the proper name for, because I've never heard anyone say it, but I know how to explain it. Let's say a toddler is searching through your backpack, ...
8
votes
4answers
9k views

Is “in one go” British English or just English?

I'm playing a game on a forum that involves guessing who posted. An American English speaker said that because the poster wrote "in one go" (meaning "in one sitting"), they were probably British or ...
8
votes
4answers
4k views

I don't want to get lung cancer like you do

I was talking with someone who's trying to quit smoking. Then the topic moved to how I want to live here because of poor air quality in my hometown and I said this: I don't want to get lung cancer ...
8
votes
5answers
3k views

The use of “let alone”

In his god is not Great Christopher Hitchens writes: June 5, Los Angeles: A three-hour debate with the Reverend Mark Roberts, senior pastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church, in Orange County, on Hugh ...
8
votes
3answers
66k views

Analyzing “So am I”

"I'm hungry." "So am I." Please reveal the reason behind saying "So am I". It seems it has an interrogative structure. Is it wrong to say "So I am" ?
8
votes
2answers
5k views

“Holla at your girl” meaning

What does "holla at your girl" mean exactly? and what is the difference between that and "holla at your boy"? Does it depend on the gender of the speaker? Also, how is "holla" pronounced? It was ...
8
votes
2answers
400 views

The syntax of metaphors in English

I tried to translate a line of a Persian poem into English, it is almost like: If you come to visit me, come slowly and softly Lest the delicate porcelain of my loneliness cracks Here, the ...
8
votes
2answers
78k views

What does “same same but different” mean?

A friend of mine asked what "same same but different" meant. The context was in an essay called Same-same, but different on the Japan Times website: One Indochinese term we all learned was the ...
8
votes
5answers
1k views

What does “cue in to” mean?

I can't find a definition of "cue in to" that explains the following sentences (from Google Books and dictionaries). The phrase, if it is an idiomatic phrase, seems to mean "pay attention to" or "...
7
votes
5answers
789 views

Form a circle line? (Verb)

Let's say a primary school teacher is going to tell a story. But before she starts, she is asking her students to: form a circle line surrounding her (like this one in the picture) What is a ...
7
votes
3answers
4k views

What does “As in” in here?

“Didn’t you hear me? A bride, Cinder. As in, a princess.” “As in, not going to happen. He’s only, what? Nineteen?” Source I looked it up, and it seems to mean "for example" or "such as"; but ...
7
votes
3answers
38k views

Why “Would you mind if I asked you something?” is correct?

Instead of "Would you mind if I ask you something?" Why past tense, I don't get it?
7
votes
2answers
3k views

Is it common to say “I have a complaint about my order.”?

I have a complaint about my order. Is this sentence used in any situation when you have some trouble with the product you bought? To me, it sounds very straight, but I'd like to know if it is OK to ...
7
votes
2answers
174 views

How would a native speaker understand buying 2 socks?

How would a native speaker understand this sentence: I have bought 2 socks. A pair of socks is quite obvious, 2 pairs of socks also, but what with 2 socks? 2 socks are a pair, but since you can't ...
7
votes
1answer
407 views

What is the usage of “was become of…”

In the following sentences "What was become of Peter?" Source: Charles Haddon Spurgeon, quoting Acts 12:18 KJV. What became of my second Brother I never knew any more than Father or Mother ...
7
votes
3answers
1k views

He travels (the) fastest who travels alone

Some people write, "He travels fastest who travels alone." Other people write, "He travels the fastest who travels alone." Which one do you think is correct? The definite article 'the' is ...
6
votes
4answers
2k views

how to write an offer like this one?

In "kids" offer, you can get the "kids meal" and another meal. For this other meal, you can choose between "Chicken meal" or "Beef meal". I feel like using the phrases (Another meal) and (for this ...
6
votes
4answers
2k views

Is it correct to say “Mother is my life”?

I need this phrase for some design as today is Mother's day. Basically, I want to say: My mother is my life. This is the graphic I designed which inspired me Is “My mother is my life” ...
6
votes
1answer
1k views

How would you ask a person to remove one hand from a shirt?

My wife is studying nursing in Canada and she was puzzled the other day as to how to ask a patient to only remove a single hand from one of the sleeves. The entire sweater could not be removed because ...
6
votes
4answers
2k views

“Are you stupid, or do you eat rocks?”

In Italian, we use the expression Sei scemo o mangi sassi? which can be literally translated as "Are you stupid, or do you eat rocks?" It is a way of saying "You are stupid." What is the more ...
6
votes
2answers
425 views

Does “be late for the green light” look natural?

Does "be late for the green light" look natural? (I'm talking about a traffic light.) I ask because though it looks good to me, Google doesn't find many search results (just 5, to be accurate) if I ...
6
votes
3answers
552 views

What is “cultural capital” and what role does it play in learning the language?

My English teacher once jovially remarked that if I were to ever fully understand literature texts by native English writers, I would have to have cultural capital. He went on to add that I wouldn't ...
6
votes
2answers
4k views

The answer “I don't think so” to the question “How is he?”

Haram finds a person who lies down on the street. Haram looks the person over if he's fine as Linda comes up to him and says, "How is he?" "I don't think so." Haram answered. Do you think ...
6
votes
2answers
81 views

Deprecation or replacing

I co-manage a PtokaX based DC++ hub in my college.(Only relevant if you know what DC++ and hubs are) We had a script which registered a bot named Infobot to the hub. Since, those scripts were getting ...
6
votes
1answer
2k views

Meaning of “have never been the worse for that”

Can someone explain what is meant by "have never been worse for that" in the following paragraph. Golan's book is good but its title is misleading. A whole chapter is devoted to the Moore-Penrose ...
6
votes
4answers
20k views

in presence of vs in the presence of

"in presence of" vs "in the presence of" Should we use "in presence of" or "in the presence of" in the following sentence? "We should show more respect in the presence of the elders." "We ...
6
votes
2answers
782 views

I'd like to know appropriate sentences for talking about the weather

When asking about the weather for this coming weekend, which of the following sentences is most appropriate when asking your friend what the weather will be on the weekend? What is the weather for ...
6
votes
3answers
8k views

“God only knows” vs. “Only God knows”

One can say only God knows in reference to some mystery only an omniscient being would know, or for those who prefer their oaths minced, heaven knows or goodness knows or lord knows. The inverted ...
6
votes
3answers
11k views

“Would you mind if I [do something]?” versus “Would you mind me [doing something]?”

Is there any difference between the following sentences? Would you mind if I smoke a cigarette outside? Would you mind me smoking a cigarette outside? Would you mind if I prepare a tea cup ...
5
votes
4answers
2k views

accidentally opened the door enough

Can one say He accidentally opened the door enough that they could see inside the office. He accidentally opened the door enough so they could see inside the office. He accidentally opened the door ...
5
votes
2answers
910 views

What is “soon's”?

From novel To Kill A Mockingbird: I'd soon's kill you as look at you. What is "soon's" short for? I had found a similar sentence would as soon do something as look at you So as soon as can be ...