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Questions tagged [word-usage]

This tag is for questions which a dictionary cannot answer about the meaning or correctness of a word in a sentence. Give as much context as possible.

8
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2answers
8k views

When is it appropriate to use the word “persons”? [duplicate]

In the question Turn “Notify the persons before 30 days” into a question, user @Matt makes the point: "persons" is not the correct plural of "person". You probably want to use the word "people" ...
8
votes
5answers
8k views

What is the opposite of saying “Standing by one's word/promise”?

I want a word or an expression which means not standing by or sticking with one's promise, in the context of this expression: First he promised me something but later he refused it; he should try ...
5
votes
1answer
1k views

Can “come along” mean to happen?

My dictionary says that to come along means "to progress or to shape up." For example: How is that project coming along? I would like to know, is "to happen or to arise" a valid meaning as well? ...
8
votes
4answers
365 views

Can “bento” be used without “box”?

Is "bento" by itself likely to be understood by native speakers of English, and feel natural, without the word "box" afterwards? For example, can you say "This is a photo of a bento I ate yesterday"? ...
5
votes
6answers
6k views

Has the word mate always at least some sexual context?

Mating is the term used for sexual activity, mostly for animals. Is there anything wrong with mate? My mate could mean my sexual partner, but I've heard that in less obvious contexts, such as someone ...
6
votes
6answers
10k views

What does “back east” mean?

How do I go back east if I've never been to the east? It does not make sense to return to a place you've never been.
3
votes
3answers
632 views

Does “join A with B” yield A-B or B-A?

The title might sound a little silly, but I have this confusion: When someone says, "Join document A with document B", does it mean document A should be first or document B should be first?
6
votes
4answers
34k views

Difference between “fulfill” and “fill”

What is the difference between fulfill and fill? In the following example, do they have the same meaning? I'll fill the form tomorrow. I'll fulfill the form tomorrow.
8
votes
3answers
99k views

What does “I'm pretty sure” mean?

Does that expression mean "I'm totally sure" or "I'm almost sure"? I always thought the first option was correct, but once I saw in a series episode a character who said that, and his interlocutor ...
6
votes
1answer
2k views

Is the “impersonal you” used in the normal nowadays conversation?

When I took my English classes, I was taught that you can be used as impersonal you, for example when giving instructions to whoever is reading instructions; it is not referring to a specific person, ...
4
votes
2answers
360 views

Can we substitute “make” with “let” in certain contexts?

Examples are as following where the usage is like ... make object ... in sentences. Please don't make me feel alone. Please make me understand what you mean to say. Can "let" be used in ...
4
votes
2answers
253 views

That vs Which and comma usage in this sentence [duplicate]

A1. The dogs, which barked in the night-time, did not recognize the thief. A2. The dogs which barked in the night-time did not recognize the thief. B1. The dogs, that barked in the night-...
10
votes
2answers
33k views

Difference between “to occur” and “to happen”?

From time to time I have an error in a computer system. What is better to say: The error happened again yesterday. The error occurred again yesterday. Is there a semantic difference between the two ...
2
votes
1answer
7k views

“Congratulations on …” or “congratulations for …”?

While I was chatting with one of my friends on Facebook, I wrote this to him after he was selected in a on-campus recruitment drive by the company TCS from our college: Congratulation on being ...
2
votes
3answers
2k views

Can “who” be used to refer more than one person, in the following sentence?

I was trying to explain an Italian saying, and I used the following sentence: It is said for who pretend not to hear what you are telling them. Can who be used to refer more than one person, in ...
5
votes
2answers
6k views

Either A or B vs. A or B respectively

In a comment on the Sustainable Living beta StackExchange site I wrote The interesting part is the different transport mechanisms involved when it's either too cold or too hot inside. Later on I ...
15
votes
5answers
20k views

What does “period” mean in this conversation?

What does the word period mean in the following context? It does not seem to be a part of the sentence. — Could you please {do something}? — I don't want to do that, period.
19
votes
6answers
7k views

How many items are actually “a few items”?

When we use a few, how many items are usually indicated? My intuition tells me it's something between 3 and 9, but what is the most common range for a few?
2
votes
2answers
2k views

Is it right to use “throughout” with yesterday or today?

Are these expressions correct? 1: Throughout yesterday afternoon, the place was noisy because of the event. 2: It was very cold and freezing throughout yesterday.
5
votes
2answers
73 views

Usage of 'split'

In a book, I encountered this sentence: Kosovo was a province of Yugoslavia before its split. This sentence portrays split as a noun/action. Now, I usually encounter split as: Kosovo was a ...
4
votes
2answers
8k views

What does “do” mean in “What do I do”?

What does "do" mean in "What do I do?" I think it means "What do I usually do?", but I don't know why anyone would ask what they usually do. Does it mean something else?
7
votes
2answers
2k views

Understanding “still” and “yet” usage

A1. I still can't speak English. A2. I can't speak English yet. B1. *I yet can't speak English. B2. *I can't speak English still. As far as I know, A1 and A2 are acceptable English. ...
8
votes
6answers
912 views

Which to choose between “that”, “if”, or “whether”?

Which is correct?: Your question is very broad, and I doubt that it is answerable. Your question is very broad, and I doubt if it is answerable. Your question is very broad, and I doubt ...
8
votes
4answers
21k views

Difference between “female” and “woman”

I haven't been able to find any good articles describing rules (or patterns) specifying use of the words female and woman. Let's take the following sentences as an example: (assuming we have a man ...
11
votes
2answers
12k views

Difference between “per” and “according to”

I have two examples: I am assembling this piece of furniture as per the attached instructions I am assembling this piece of furniture according to the attached instructions Is there ...
8
votes
3answers
638 views

Appropriate usage of “can't” and “cannot”

Are there any rules for using can't and cannot since they mean the same thing, and they are used interchangeably, but they sound weird in certain contexts?
15
votes
2answers
1k views

When should I use “there” and “their”?

For example, in the following sentences, in which ones should I use there, and not their? ____ house is beautiful. ____ are lots of skyscrapers in Dubai.
8
votes
3answers
1k views

May “garden” be used as a verb?

When my hobby is gardening, what I'm doing in the free time? Can I say: "I will garden tomorrow." or perhaps: "I'm going to garden some roses." Or can I ask someone how to garden tomatoes?
11
votes
1answer
187 views

Do I “access” or “get access to”?

These days we can access more and more online systems. However, should we say access or get access to as in the following example: You can access your account by clicking this link. You can ...
11
votes
3answers
263 views

How sophisticated does the word 'occidental' sound for the average native speaker?

The word oriental is quite widely used. But its counterpart, occidental is not so popular, at least I don't hear it so often. What's more, my contact with English is mostly by technical documentation,...
16
votes
3answers
23k views

Difference between “Trip”, “Travel”, and “Journey”

Are there any significant differences between words trip, travel, and journey (nouns)? Are those interchangeable words or are there any specific expressions which uses one of them but not another?
21
votes
6answers
5k views

Is “snows” ever used as noun?

In Italian, nevi (the plural of neve, "snow") is used in some expressions, such as l'uomo delle nevi (a.k.a. Yeti), and le nevi dei Pirenei. (The last expression is referring to the Pyrenees, but I ...
15
votes
5answers
6k views

using “next” to days of the week

This question reminded me of a debate I have with non-native English speakers. If today is Thursday and I say that something is to happen "next Saturday", does that mean the "Saturday in two days" ...
8
votes
1answer
534 views

Appropriate usage of “Take” and “Give”

What is the correct verb to be used in the following places? 1) Teacher Mary A s tuition. Therefore she would take the fees. 2) A student B s tuition. 3) An Exam is "taken" by a student, ...
4
votes
2answers
2k views

Is “Agree to NOUN” instead of “Agree to VERB” acceptable?

I'm aware about two usages of the verb agree: To agree with somebody or something: I agreed with him. I agree with this idea. To agree to do something: We agreed to stop and eat. However, I ...
14
votes
3answers
1k views

Villages and hamlets in US native parlance

How common or uncommon are the words village and hamlet in US native parlance? In the small discussion following this comment, one user said that the word village is not a word we use here, but ...
5
votes
1answer
9k views

“It is raining” or “it is rainy”?

I'm trying to say: I don't like the weather today because it is ____. (rainy / raining) I have to carry an umbrella for ____ (rainy / raining) weather. Should I use rainy or raining? Also, what ...
15
votes
2answers
2k views

When to say 'dog', and when to say 'hound'?

When refrerring to Canis lupus familiaris, what word is better to use, dog or hound? Wikipedia translates it as dog, but I've heard also the word hound in many contexts, and that version is a lot ...
9
votes
2answers
4k views

Use “woman” or “person” for female version of “how to be a good man”?

A friend of mine is reading a English textbook in which a girl thanks her mother. In the letter, one of the things she said was "thank you for teaching me how to be a good man". The English textbook ...
14
votes
3answers
3k views

When should “like” be used rather than “as” in a comparison?

In Italian, "spies like us" becomes spie come noi, and "do as you like" becomes fai come preferisci. In both the sentences, the translation of like, and as is come. This causes some problems to the ...
7
votes
4answers
9k views

To live in village or on country?

Speaking about someone from a rural area, should we rather say "he's living in village" or "he's living on country"? Country as a word has other meanings, such as the entity including the whole ...
9
votes
3answers
764 views

Meaning and usage of ain't

Sometimes I encounter ain't, but I really don't know how to translate it properly. What does ain't stand for? If I really wanted to use it, in which contexts would you say it's acceptable using it?
10
votes
2answers
821 views

When to use words “country” and “state” while describing a sovereign political entity?

While describing a sovereign political entity, when is it appropriate to use the words country and state? To me, state sounds more official and academic, and country more informal, but this might ...
6
votes
4answers
23k views

What's the difference between “either” and “neither”? [closed]

What's the difference between either and neither? Can you provide me some examples?
3
votes
3answers
370 views

Is “down” not meaning “below” (e.g. “down the line”) formally acceptable?

One of my biggest issues when learning the language was when I heard people saying "down there" or "down the line" when referring to a counter or a line in a bank, respectively, for example. That ...
6
votes
7answers
852 views

If I can skype someone, can I chat someone?

I can say I've skyped someone. But when referring to chat, such as ICQ, is it correct to say that I've chat someone, with the meaning that I've sent someone a message on chat?
21
votes
3answers
465 views

Can I be mobbed by only one person?

Is it correct word usage to say that I'm mobbed by a single person? The word mobbing comes from mob, which refers to a large number of people, so only one person mobbing sounds a bit strange.
7
votes
3answers
2k views

Can I say to mail me referring to e-mail?

Can I say someone to mail me when I'm referring to sending me to an e-mail? I'm aware of other meaning of the word mail, but is it nowadays used in older meaning? In many languages mail and e-mail ...
15
votes
3answers
731 views

When to use “some” instead of “a”

You were just having some dream. and You were just having a dream. Are both correct? What is the difference, if any?
22
votes
2answers
1k views

Articles: When do I use “a”, “the”, or “__”?

How do I know whether to use the definite (the) or indefinite (a, an) article, and when to omit it altogether?