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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.

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133 votes
14 answers
116k views

Is there any difference between “which” and “that”?

What is the difference between the words which and that? For example: I have a car which is blue. I have a car that is blue. Are there any rules specifying usage of which and that?
Tom's user avatar
  • 3,111
111 votes
8 answers
152k 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 ...
Cjxcz Odjcayrwl's user avatar
100 votes
11 answers
307k 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?
user avatar
89 votes
3 answers
328k 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 ...
gerrit's user avatar
  • 4,735
80 votes
6 answers
354k views

What's the difference between "center" and "centre"?

Which one is correct: examination center or examination centre? What is the difference between center and centre? Is the difference only in spelling? What is the usage difference?
anish's user avatar
  • 1,318
75 votes
9 answers
46k views

If potato chips come in contact with humid air, they become what?

In my mother-tongue, there's a word for it. I'm wondering what the English word is. If potato chips come in contact with humid air (as in rainy days), they lose their crispiness, and become ...
Maulik V's user avatar
  • 66.1k
73 votes
4 answers
19k 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 ...
Maulik V's user avatar
  • 66.1k
64 votes
8 answers
131k views

What is the right word to refer to a black person, when you don't know their name?

Excuse my ignorance, I have lived in the UK for 8 years however I still don't know how to refer to a black person, as I came from a country where racism was not an issue. Some agency called me last ...
Terve's user avatar
  • 1,150
64 votes
3 answers
224k views

Is "series" Plural or Singular?

Such expressions as Drama series and TV series are plural or singular? E.g. I like to watch drama/TV series or I like to watch a drama/TV series?
user5369's user avatar
  • 1,269
61 votes
1 answer
16k views

What's the meaning of bee in hand and beauty in eye?

I've seen this riddle. I have a bee in my hand. What's in my eye? Apparently, the answer is beauty but I don't get it. What's the play on words here?
Konrad Viltersten's user avatar
60 votes
4 answers
7k views

Can I write "nonsensual data" for data that makes no sense?

I am worried that "nonsensual data" might come across as data that does not have a lot of erotic vibe....
BoZenKhaa's user avatar
  • 703
57 votes
4 answers
14k views

"[I]t literally scared her to death" - Why is "I" in brackets?

Quoting a phrase from an article: Grubb’s first overdose was on Aug. 15, 2015. Her mother found her blue on her bedroom floor, a tourniquet around her arm and a needle next to her. Paramedics ...
Student's user avatar
  • 1,659
52 votes
2 answers
6k views

The college in 'Electoral College'

By college, I understand as a school or a university. How to make sense of the College in the term 'Electoral College'?
John's user avatar
  • 785
52 votes
7 answers
13k views

Why are nice picture/gif/video about foo called "foo-porn"?

I was browsing Reddit and I discovered many subreddits named after foo-porn, to name just a few: /r/EarthPorn /r/FoodPorn /r/Map_Porn /r/ruralporn /r/shockwaveporn /r/SkyPorn /r/unixporn It seems ...
nalzok's user avatar
  • 1,219
52 votes
3 answers
101k views

What is the correct term "back-end", "back end" or "backend"?

I have a question. What's the correct term? Back-end, Back end or Backend I'm a software back-end developer I'm a software back end developer I'm a software backend developer
Mateo Guzmán's user avatar
50 votes
9 answers
20k views

Can I say "fingers" when referring to toes?

In my native language, there is no word for toes. You just use the same word for both toes and fingers. In this context, I would say a human has 20 fingers. Recently I've heard someone saying a ...
aMJay's user avatar
  • 603
49 votes
6 answers
61k 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' ...
Dasik's user avatar
  • 2,409
48 votes
8 answers
14k views

"To death" vs "to the death"

Sometimes I see the former, as in "starve to death". But sometimes I see the latter as well, as in "fight to the death", or in the following quote: I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend ...
Leaky Nun's user avatar
  • 551
44 votes
5 answers
8k views

What do we call 'ketchup', 'cheesy dip' , 'oregano' and things like that collectively, as they aren't side dishes?

With most of the Indian dishes, we are served with something other than side dishes i.e. salads. Since most of the users here come from different countries, I come up with stuff that is ...
Maulik V's user avatar
  • 66.1k
43 votes
4 answers
10k views

Do native speakers still use "ought to"?

Do native speakers still use "ought to" in daily conversation? I haven't seen "ought to" used on any social or news ... websites. I only read about it in English grammar books. Ngram: Trends: ...
Shannak's user avatar
  • 4,540
43 votes
6 answers
11k 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?
user118185's user avatar
42 votes
5 answers
20k 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) ...
Peace's user avatar
  • 5,164
42 votes
7 answers
9k views

What's the meaning of "Can it, will you?"

I was watching a TV show, and one scene in a movie theatre goes like this: Film viewer: We know, sit down. Jason: Maggie. Maggie: How are theatre owners gonna know how we feel about this ...
Qing's user avatar
  • 539
42 votes
3 answers
374k 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?
B Faley's user avatar
  • 1,198
41 votes
8 answers
19k 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 ...
clickbait's user avatar
  • 842
41 votes
3 answers
11k views

What is the difference between IMO and IMHO and IHOP?

I was reading a public forum, and I saw the following abbreviations: IMO IMHO IHOP As far as I see, these are interchangeable somehow, but I don't understand the correct usage of them. Just assuming ...
Bálint Pap's user avatar
  • 1,102
40 votes
5 answers
105k views

What is the difference between "do you like" and "would you like"?

Do you like candy? Would you like some candy? Do you like walking? Would you like to go for a walk? What is the difference? And are they the same or not? Do they any use in different situations?
Ice Girl's user avatar
  • 4,267
40 votes
3 answers
98k 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?
user557108's user avatar
40 votes
5 answers
269k 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 ...
user2758804's user avatar
39 votes
3 answers
7k views

Why did my "seldom" get corrected?

In an answer in the Spanish site about the use of timbre in European Spanish I tried to say that there is a specific meaning of the word that I know but very infrequently get to use, so I wrote this: ...
Charlie's user avatar
  • 503
39 votes
5 answers
71k views

Is Let us = Let's?

Many times I heard these words interchangeably. I want to know if "Let's" and "Let us" are used for the same meaning. I think (for me): "Let us" is word used for requesting. Like Let us do something ...
Pandya's user avatar
  • 1,192
38 votes
5 answers
8k views

Why is "science" in "Bachelor of Science" singular, whereas "arts" in "Bachelor of Arts" is plural?

In the following degrees — "Bachelor of Science" and "Master of Science" — "science" is an uncountable or singular noun. In contrast, in "Bachelor of Arts" and ...
AIQ's user avatar
  • 10k
37 votes
3 answers
204k views

Differences between "mandatory" and "compulsory"

What is the difference between mandatory and compulsory? Are they synonyms? Can they be used interchangeably especially with regard to something you must do? Writing the essay is a mandatory task. ...
haunted85's user avatar
  • 1,029
35 votes
3 answers
13k views

My dad doesn't want me to TOUCH alcohol

My dad doesn't want me to touch alcohol before I turn 21. Is it perfectly natural to use 'touch' here? I searched for it and found some examples, but not enough to make me sure.
Bobobobobo11's user avatar
  • 1,271
33 votes
6 answers
9k views

How do Americans respond when asked for their names?

I heard a character on TV, when asked for his name, responded: My name is Bond, James Bond. Why doesn't Mr. 007 reply, "My name is James Bond". I am not familiar with first/middle/last name ...
Abdul Rehman's user avatar
33 votes
7 answers
25k views

Does one call "regular" men "Sir" in the UK?

I've lived in the US for a couple of years and ended up using "Sir" when addressing "regular" men in a large range of situations (in which I would use "Ma'am" if I was addressing a woman): [on ...
ebosi's user avatar
  • 575
33 votes
6 answers
48k 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"?
Nguyễn Quốc Việt's user avatar
32 votes
6 answers
9k views

"When you Frankenstein a team together..." - Is "Frankenstein" a new verb?

I did not know that "Frankenstein" can be used as a verb. Max Kellerman, a highly reputed sports analyst working for ESPN, says "When you Frankenstein a team together, usually it doesn't work ...
AIQ's user avatar
  • 10k
32 votes
2 answers
4k views

Why is "for a tortuous three days" singular even though days is plural?

I was surprised to find out that you should write: I waited for a torturous three days. Instead of: I waited for torturous three days. Why is this? "Days" is plural ...
alex's user avatar
  • 4,869
31 votes
10 answers
10k views

Why does "graphic" mean violent or gory?

My German friend asked me why "graphic" means "violent or gory", as in "graphic content" or "graphic language". (Related, but not the same question: What‘s does ...
equin0x80's user avatar
  • 967
31 votes
11 answers
7k views

Keeping my mouth shut, referring to avoiding weight gain

Today, in an informal context I was asked what was the best strategy to keep a good weight according to my experience. I said that keeping my mouth shut was quite a good strategy. Can I use the word ...
pablo's user avatar
  • 311
31 votes
1 answer
7k views

Are there any solid reasons for the "-st", "-nd", "-rd", and "-th" suffixes for numbers?

Is there any reason why we say 1st, 2nd, 3rd and the rest (4, 5,.. 10,..) are all -th except the one ending in 1, 2, 3? Why does it change specifically for 1, 2, 3?
Ruban Savvy's user avatar
31 votes
7 answers
198k 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"?
Hanieh's user avatar
  • 711
30 votes
3 answers
11k views

Why is it correct to say "me busy."?

I was playing Warcraft. I clicked on my peon. He told me: "me busy. leave me alone." Why is it OK to say it that way instead of just "I'm busy."?
Snack Exchange's user avatar
30 votes
6 answers
56k 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 ...
Just_another_developer's user avatar
30 votes
1 answer
6k views

What's the name of this walking style used by Luna Lovegood?

There is a character called "Luna Lovegood" in Harry Potter series This is how she walks: What's the name of this walking style used by this character?
Rhea K's user avatar
  • 415
29 votes
4 answers
8k views

"Transgender" versus the obsolete term "transgendered"

As of recent I've been reading some Wikipedia articles on gender and sexuality leading out from the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) page. However, it was not clear to me why the former ...
Joselin Jocklingson's user avatar
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 ...
Peace's user avatar
  • 5,164
29 votes
3 answers
5k views

Are some offensive words always masculine?

I have an interesting question which has got me thinking lately. You see, there are some nouns that I have always seen be used as masculine such as the words "fucker" and "motherfucker" (which I am ...
Ahmed Ayman's user avatar
29 votes
7 answers
22k views

"quite" vs "pretty"

What is the difference between quite and pretty in the following context: The differences between these concepts are quite complicated. and The differences between these concepts are pretty ...
Dmitrii Bundin's user avatar

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