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.

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20
votes
2answers
2k 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?
13
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7answers
59k views

Shouldn't "five minute walk" be "five minutes walk" in this sentence?

Recently, while skimming through an article I came across a sentence which is as follows. The five minute walk will connect you with life. My rationale says it should have been "five minutes&...
83
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3answers
311k views

Does "a couple" always mean two?

Today I said some event was a couple of weeks away. A native speaker from Australia corrected me and said, no it's at least three weeks away. What followed was a discussion as to whether a couple ...
36
votes
3answers
319k views

"Important to me" or "Important for me"

I cannot easily figure out which one is more appropriate to use: It's important to me. It's important for me. Are they the same? If not, what's the difference?
28
votes
7answers
173k views

Difference between "in time" and "on time"

I have an appointment at 8 and I arrive there at 7:55, is it "on time" or "in time"? What about "the nick of time"?
6
votes
1answer
5k views

Correct usage of will and would

Consider the following sentence It will/would rain tomorrow. I understand "would" usually means something that is really improbable. So "it would happen" means it might happen but it is very ...
10
votes
1answer
2k views

is a dove a "she"? how to use "he" and "she" for animals?

In the song "Blowing in the Wind" by Bob Dylan, there's a verse that reads: Yes, and how many seas must a white dove sail Before she sleeps in the sand? My question is, why he used "...
107
votes
8answers
149k 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 ...
10
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4answers
34k views

Usage of into vs in vs inside

When should 'into', 'in' and 'inside' be used? What are the differences between the three? For example, what are the differences between the following statements? Are any of them incorrect? ...
6
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3answers
1k views

What are the differences between "lay" and "lie"?

I'm confused about lay and lie. Please look at these examples: "Don't lie in the sun for too long." "The dog was lying dead on the floor." "She lay back against the pillows." "I told her a ...
28
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4answers
206k views

Allow (to) + infinitive, substantive, verb+ -ing

In which way can the verb 'allow' be used? There is always some confusion and apparently it's often intuitively used wrongly. Which form corresponds to correct English, eventually depending on context ...
5
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2answers
1k views

Proper usage of the word since

Sometimes I hear people say something like the example below. Is it correct to use the word since in this manner? Mosquitoes are surviving on earth since millions of years.
4
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2answers
5k views

'Would' vs 'should', expressing expectation on the part of the speaker

Page 111 (77, Should expressing probability), Oxford Learner's Grammar - Grammar Finder: We can also use should to say that something is probable, either in the present or the future. ...
3
votes
3answers
10k views

"Assume you are given ..." or "Assume that you are given ..."?

I have often read people using sentences like... Assume you are given a ball. in place of Assume that you are given a ball. While both sound correct while speaking, the first sentence does ...
10
votes
2answers
16k views

"Many a year" vs. "many years"

so soon they were all seated at Beorn's table, and half had not seen such a gathering for many a year. Why is many a year used? Should not many years be used? What is the difference between many a ...
17
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1answer
127k views

Could you clarify when to use "Though" at the end of a sentence?

Ok, English textbooks mostly teach the structure "Although / though", for example, Although my wife and I are so busy,we spend time together every weekend. Anne was fond of Tim, though he ...
16
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3answers
51k views

Why is `enjoy to [verb]` incorrect

I can say: I love to read. I hate to read. But it must be: I enjoy to read. I enjoy reading. What is enjoy so different?
8
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3answers
1k views

What is the difference between “say” and “tell”?

I really get confused when to use say and when to use tell. Which is appropriate in the following: What did he tell? / What did he say? What are you saying? / What are you telling?
2
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5answers
8k views

Why "would" instead of "will" in this sentence?

The goal for these negotiations is to reach a mutually-agreed long-term comprehensive solution that would ensure Iranˈs nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful. (Source) what does would imply ...
19
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6answers
9k 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?
3
votes
1answer
855 views

“that” and “which” as relative pronoun

Since both “that” and “which” can be used to modify things in a sentence with an adjective clauses, which one is preferred in which situations? I found the following rules on the Internet. I am ...
2
votes
3answers
3k views

"All of the ...." or " All the ... "?

I am a bit confused about these two forms For example : John reads books all of the time/all the time All the students/All of the students have participated in march against smoking in the campus ...
1
vote
1answer
93k views

Can "Monday", "Tuesday" be plural like "Mondays" or "Tuesdays"?

Which of the following sentences are correct? From now on, the biochemistry lecture classes on Mondays at 10.30 a.m. will be held on Sundays at 11.30 a.m instead. From now on, the biochemistry ...
6
votes
3answers
223k views

"So am I" or "So do I"?

What would be the correct way to reply to a statement such as: "I belong to this group" Would it be "So do I" or "So am I"?
12
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6answers
5k views

Difference between will and shall

What is the difference between will and shall in modern spoken English? For example I have the following sentences: He will arrive on Tuesday. He shall arrive on Tuesday. Are there any ...
6
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5answers
866 views

The meaning of 'where' in "Your secondary mode is external, where you deal with things rationally and logically"

This is a paragraph generally describing the characteristics of an ISTJ person: As an ISTJ, your primary mode of living is focused internally, where you take things in via your five senses in a ...
8
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3answers
737 views

Is "further" really used as synonym of "farther"?

The OALD, for the meaning of further says: (comparative of far) (especially BrE) at or to a greater distance SYN farther Is further really used as synonym of farther? As far as I recall, there is ...
7
votes
2answers
7k views

Exist vs exists in mathematics

Are there any rules about when to say exist and when to say exists in mathematics? For example, both these sentences appear in a book of mine: There exist αi in I such that xn = Σ αi xi. There exists ...
4
votes
4answers
640 views

Choosing the word: learn or study

There is a picture of a boy who is in class. In the picture the teacher is dictating a text, and the boy is writing it down. The children are asked to describe this picture in one sentence: (What's ...
3
votes
5answers
12k views

What do we call someone who's in between -a friend and an enemy!

He's a friend of mine The message is clear. He's my friend. He wishes all good for me and helps me whenever I need one. He's an enemy of mine The message is clear again. He's my enemy. He wishes ...
1
vote
3answers
4k views

A comparison between Grade, Mark, Score and Point

Let's suppose a teacher wants to punish a student and wants to decrease his / her achieved points on a test paper; he would say something to the student; I would like to know which one of the ...
0
votes
2answers
2k views

Can/could vs. may/might (expressing typical occurrences)

The following parts are taken from PEU:1 122.2 common or typical We often use can to say what is common or typical. Scotland can be very warm in September. Ann can really ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

Present/past perfect when the object is a dead person

I remember (vaguely) reading somewhere that it is wrong to use the present perfect when the subject of a sentence is someone who is long dead: *Einstein has visited the Philippines. My question is,...
1
vote
1answer
114 views

Comparative vs. Superlative While Comparing Two Items

In his book section 176, 3rd ed., Swan says: Elder brother/sister are used when a person has only one brother/sister who is older; eldest is used when there are more. An elder son/daughter is ...
0
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2answers
2k views

How often is the expression "get on well" used? Is there any difference with "get along"?

I have been talking with a person from US and when I said something like this: They do not get on well with others She didn´t understand me at first, but later she said that was a funny sentence ...
18
votes
1answer
485k views

"Can you please" vs. "Could you please" [duplicate]

I heard using 'could' is for politeness. When I request something, should I say "Can you please" or "Could you please"? Does the latter sound over-polite and pretentious?
13
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6answers
206k views

What is the difference between a company, organisation, industry, firm, corporation and business?

A company is any form of business whether it is small or large. Generally the term "company" indicates a particular kind of business dealing in a specific product. An organisation is the ...
40
votes
5answers
17k views

How can you recognize if an "uncle" is father's brother or mother's brother? (Is there any "default option"? )

Sometimes the speaker (or author) specifies their meaning for the word "uncle", for example: The gelding was mine, a gift from a great-uncle on my mother’s side. (Educated by Tara Westover) ...
14
votes
5answers
32k views

What is the difference between "general" and "generic"?

I am finding an example to clearly differentiate and demonstrate the use of these two words. At the moment, I am relying more on my feelings to decide which word to use. Say I am writing an article ...
11
votes
3answers
123k views

Family do or does?

What should I use My family do not give me permission to be outside after 10pm. or My family does not give me permission to be outside after 10pm. Now as I typed in MS-word it says does is ...
26
votes
3answers
3k views

"(Noun) the sh*t out of this" — What nouns work?

In the recent feature film The Martian, Mark Watney, played by Matt Damon, has to figure out a way to grow food on Mars when it's never been done before in order to survive until he can possibly be ...
9
votes
3answers
2k 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?
7
votes
1answer
3k views

Using the adjectives 'very' and 'own' for our (own!) body organs

The adjectives 'very' and 'own' mean precisely as stated or being exactly the same and not any other. I understand a subtle difference between my bike and my own bike in below mentioned instance - ...
5
votes
3answers
905 views

'Sorry' as a replacement for 'Excuse me'?

Is it ok to say 'sorry' where you otherwise would use 'excuse me'? Example: "Sorry, but could you show me the way to the next train station?"
5
votes
2answers
56k views

Early vs Earlier

Imagine you are organizing a lunch and want to ask someone (your friend or sister, etc.) to come over and help you prepare the meal. Which one of the following words works properly in the self-made ...
2
votes
3answers
36k views

Are there other names for students according to their year - except of "sophomore"?

Today, I've heard my lecturer who turned to us by the word: "sophomores". This the is the first time that I was exposed to this word in the meaning of "student of 2nd year". My question if there are ...
15
votes
5answers
38k 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.
11
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5answers
18k views

Is there a word in English meaning "see something incorrectly"?

For example, I saw someone just now. I thought he was Jack, but turned out he was not. Or, I saw something and recognized it as something else incorrectly. Is there a word for such situations? I ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

''in the year 1867'' vs. "in 1867''

He was born in the year 1867. He was born in 1867. Are there differences between “in the year 1867” and “in 1867”? Please explain it to me.
6
votes
1answer
12k views

Using the verb 'have' instead of the verb 'eat'

I used to think that the verb have can only be used when we talk about meals, which means an occasion when people sit down to eat food, especially breakfast, lunch, or dinner. But I see native ...

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