Questions tagged [word-choice]

This tag is for questions which a dictionary cannot answer about the several possibilities available for a particular meaning, and which one of them would be the most appropriate.

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108 votes
8 answers
150k views

Is there any difference between being ill and sick?

I can say I'm ill or I'm sick. But what is the difference between the usage of these terms? I've heard that one can use sick for longer-term and ill for shorter-term, but is that really correct? How ...
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94 votes
11 answers
269k views

Should I say "She is in the park" or "She is at the park"?

I am really confused. Which preposition is correct? She is in/at the park. They are in/at the park. I am in/at the park. Should I use in or at in these sentences?
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89 votes
3 answers
819k 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
70 votes
4 answers
17k views

Is there any more 'respectful word' than 'beggars' for these wonderful guys?

In India, beggars don't do anything and ask for money. But here, I see this specific practice to ask for money (in foreign countries). Check this guy he works harder, shows his skills and asks for ...
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  • 64.8k
55 votes
7 answers
24k views

"In" and "on": How can I decide which one to use for vehicles?

Examples: In a car, van, etc. On a bus, boat, motorcycle, etc. How can one decide which preposition to use? Is memorization the only way or is there a better way? Note: People generally explain ...
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45 votes
3 answers
325k views

"An hour" or "a hour"

Which indefinite article should precede hour — a or an? an hour a hour Does the usage of an vs a depend on the pronunciation — a history, a hobby, but an hour, an honor?
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41 votes
8 answers
17k views

How to say something like "my company" without sounding like I own the company?

How do I say something like "my company," "my plane," "my bus", etc. without making it sound like I own the company/plane/bus/etc? "Our company" makes it seem like both me and the person/people I'm ...
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  • 842
40 votes
6 answers
8k views

"Bathroom" or "Restroom"

I have a specific question: Are Americans more inclined to use "bathroom" or "restroom" about a bathroom/restroom with several sinks and stalls in a company building?
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38 votes
4 answers
5k views

Why is wine made 'from' grapes, but tables are made 'of' wood?

(1) Wine is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented grapes or other fruits. (Wikipedia) (2) Tables were made of marble or wood and metal (typically bronze or silver alloys), sometimes with richly ...
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36 votes
4 answers
18k views

What is the difference between can and could in 'Can/could you please explain this to me?'

Can you please explain this to me? Could you please explain this to me? I am unable to figure out which to use which situation. I did google, and some posts say they are both the same, even if ...
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34 votes
3 answers
87k views

“file doesn’t exist” or “file doesn’t exists”

You’ve requested the example.txt file. That file doesn’t exist/exists. Which one should I use? Why?
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33 votes
2 answers
7k views

What's the English phrase to describe men who are standing next to each other, facing in opposite direction),?

How would I describe this in English? I have been searching over the internet but it's so hard for me to just figure out what word best to describe it. Here's a picture to describe them : I'll use to ...
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32 votes
7 answers
20k views

"My son/daughter" or "Our son/daughter"?

To me, it sounds selfish to only say "My child" since he or she has two parents and not just me. I'm struggling with this at work, where we have people of many nationalities, but there's no one that ...
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  • 443
32 votes
12 answers
12k views

Word for someone who says yes, then no, then yes

Facing a situation that needs a decision, a person says yes then in a minute later changes it to no, but he/she does it several times and does not have a real decision eventually. What is the single ...
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  • 321
32 votes
6 answers
40k views

You can contact me on/over/by Skype

Which preposition(s) is / are correct in the following example? We contacted the college authority over / on / by Skype.
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32 votes
5 answers
10k views

You prefer to "eat soup" or "drink soup"?

Background: We have a local food that's something between "broth" and "noodles". Unfortunately, English language experts in Iran don't bother to introduce a suitable word that deals with the problem. ...
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  • 7,357
30 votes
2 answers
336k views

I am cumming or I am coming

Hi I know this is vulgar language but since it is a part of English I want to learn in right way. I want to ask a question about cum and come and this is really serious question made me confused. I ...
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28 votes
3 answers
9k views

What do Americans call a person when they cannot remember the right name?

In contemporary American English, what do you call a person you’ve temporarily forgotten the name of? Let’s suppose the following scenario. What would you use to fill in the blank? Bill: Hey, Jack, ...
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  • 13.7k
28 votes
6 answers
40k views

Difference between 'One to One' and 'One on One'

I have been confused about the difference between "one to one" and "one on one". Which one is more appropriate of the following? We will have one to one meeting? We will have one ...
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27 votes
18 answers
22k views

What is a non-vulgar synonym for this swear word meaning "an enormous amount"?

How do I say "shitload" or "shit-ton" without cursing? Ideally, I'm looking for a term for casual conversation but without any cursing, the word you can use with kids and teens, or just adults you ...
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27 votes
6 answers
22k views

Is there a word for losing something in order to gain some other thing?

For example I want increase the speed of a memory system in a computer but this will cost more money or decreasing the capacity will also gain more speed. So I have to lose capacity and money in ...
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  • 1,065
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
3 answers
9k views

Is there any difference between "temporary" and "provisional"?

The English dictionary shows that either temporary or provisional indicates the short time. Therefore, I get confused about which is more proper in the following sentence: Any physical theory is ...
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  • 775
27 votes
7 answers
10k views

When to say "I need money" as opposed to "I need the money"?

I learned that if we are referring to money in general, then we don't use "the". So: "I need money" = I need money in general (any money). But when watching a movie, I heard people say "I need the ...
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  • 15.1k
27 votes
4 answers
1k views

Toward vs. Towards

Are the words "toward" and "towards" synonymous? If not, when should I use one over the other? "Towards" usually sounds silly to my ear, but is that just me?
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  • 3,080
26 votes
12 answers
5k views

"Four is better" vs "Four are better". Which one is correct?

I want to write: One cake is good, but 4 {is,are} better! Which one ("are" or "is") should I use? Looking at examples online it seems that both are acceptable. So here are my ...
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  • 361
26 votes
3 answers
10k views

'Hard work never hurt anyone' Why not 'hurts'?

I saw this sentence: Hard work never hurt anyone. It's a good phrase, but I wonder why it is 'hurt' not 'hurts'? I think 'hurts' (3rd-person singular present) is more correct. Why is it 'hurt'?
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  • 2,389
26 votes
1 answer
4k views

Why can "populace" be used as an adjective in "most populace cities?"

I wanted to talk about the cities where the population is high. My correspondent told me we must say: The most populace cities Instead of: The most populated cities I don't understand how the ...
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  • 317
26 votes
3 answers
8k views

Sorry for your loss. But why? [closed]

There are many times when at the time of giving condolence or showing sympathy to someone, we say "Sorry for your loss". What does the word "Sorry" signify here? Why it is "Sorry for your loss" and ...
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  • 269
26 votes
3 answers
4k views

What are the differences between "to talk" and "to speak"?

Both verbs "to talk" and "to speak" refer to the same action. Is their meaning exactly the same? When is more appropriate to use one, or the other verb?
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25 votes
6 answers
13k views

"She dressed like/as an owl." Which is correct?

She dressed like an owl. She dressed as an owl. "As" or "like"? Which one is more appropriate? My brother said that the second one is correct. He said that first one means "she dressed like an ...
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25 votes
7 answers
15k views

"to fart" in child language

What is the appropriate word for "to fart" regarding babies? As "to fart" is declared as impolite in the most dictionaries there needs to be another word for it regarding babies? Like "pupsen" vs. "...
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25 votes
8 answers
10k views

Should I say: She is 'no' student or She is 'not' a student?

I'm always confused with that issue. Should I say She is no student or She is not a student Or are both of them equal? If they are, what is the difference between them?
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25 votes
5 answers
6k 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 ...
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  • 24.1k
25 votes
2 answers
148k views

"fits" or "suits" my needs?

In a formal letter, what kind of sentence could I write? The programme perfectly suits my needs. The programme perfectly fits my needs. EDIT: According to a dictionary the phrase with "fits" makes ...
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25 votes
2 answers
28k views

"Pretty" versus "quite" [duplicate]

Is there any difference between using pretty, and quite, in the following sentences? I am pretty good at playing soccer. I am quite good at playing soccer. How are you? I am quite well. ...
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  • 20.3k
24 votes
12 answers
22k views

Stuck writing a sentence because tea is a 'beverage' and water is not!

I am writing an article on tea. I want to say that... Tea is the most consumed _____________ after water. The problem is tea is a beverage but water is not. So, if I come up with this sentence, ...
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  • 64.8k
24 votes
5 answers
11k views

Difference between "pardoned" and "forgiven"

What is the difference between words "pardoned" and "forgiven"? For instance: After ten years in prison, Stephen was {pardoned/forgiven} and set free. I found the definitions of both: Pardoned -...
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24 votes
6 answers
3k views

Day vs 24h day?

In Russian (my native language) there are two words - "день" and "сутки". First means day, just a day, probably lightest part of it, second - 24 hours from 00:00 to 00:00. There is a strict difference ...
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  • 351
23 votes
2 answers
48k views

Why do people say "I am broke" instead of "I am broken"?

I know these are correct: I am done. He is chosen. My phone is broken. But why do we say I am broke. instead of I am broken. Is that even grammatically correct?
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  • 753
23 votes
3 answers
89k views

"Aim" vs "Goal" whats the difference?

Is there any difference between "Aim" and "Goal"? I often seen while filling the Resume or Bio-data, there were two fields as: Aim: Goals:
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22 votes
5 answers
4k views

Why is it that when we say a balloon pops, we say "exploded" not "imploded"?

Sometimes I wonder, when a balloon pops, we say: Oh the balloon exploded! Instead of: Oh the balloon imploded! When a balloon pops, it becomes smaller. As I see it, the meaning of "imploded&...
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  • 1,572
22 votes
4 answers
5k views

What do you call this when cats hunch their backs and their fur stands on end?

What do you call this when cats hunch their backs and their fur stands on end? I know there is such a word but I cannot recall it. This word can be used figuratively when saying that someone gets ...
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22 votes
4 answers
3k views

Why is "crime story" more correct than "criminal story"?

Criminal is an adjective and story is a noun. Why is "crime story" used instead of "criminal story"? While both crime and story are nouns. What's this latter combination? Is "criminal story" even ...
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  • 359
22 votes
9 answers
59k views

Too many to's? 'I am not able to come to office'

Is this sentence correct or not? I am not able to come to office. Can we use "to" twice or can we write this sentence in a better way?
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22 votes
7 answers
66k views

“I have little money” vs. “I have a little money”

What is the difference between “I have little money” and “I have a little money”? Are they the same?
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22 votes
2 answers
924 views

How can I remember the difference between "lay" and "laid"? [closed]

I often confuse lay and laid. For instance, in selecting the appropriate word in these contexts: She lay/laid a hand on his arm. He lay/laid across the bench lazily. We lay/laid down our ...
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  • 1,006
21 votes
3 answers
10k views

I can downplay. Can I upplay?

I can downplay something. Can I thus "upplay" a thing or not? What do you think?
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  • 1,890
21 votes
4 answers
9k views

Large, huge or big communities?

When I talk about many people, like community, what should I use? A large community A huge community A big community In my native language (German), we use just one word for that: groß. What is the ...
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  • 321
20 votes
5 answers
10k views

Do you say “2 Byte” or “2 Bytes”?

Do you say "2 Byte" or "2 Bytes"? Which one is correct? If both is possible, when to use what? The same question would come to my mind for my own language: German. So, there has to be a technical ...
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