Cerberus
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How does the "Dalai Lama walks into a pizza shop..." joke work?
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214 votes

This is indeed a pun. To make someone something can mean "to create something for someone", as in, I made her a sandwich. But it can also mean "to change someone into some thing or state", as in, I ...

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"firstly ... secondly ..." or "first ... second ... "?
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58 votes

Both styles are used. In most genres, no-one will object to either. However, traditionally, first, secondly, thirdly etc. is used. Only pedants will insist on this usage, but it is something to be ...

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How are silent letters important?
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23 votes

There are several reasons, three of which stand out: If you keep the original spelling, connections with the same word used in other languages remain intact. In honest and psychology, for example, ...

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When is it acceptable to omit the subject "I"?
19 votes

It is very casual and informal. When in doubt, I recommend that you do not use it. It is quite different from Italian or Spanish, where subject pronouns can be left out; in English (and other Germanic ...

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Exercises for pronouncing 'I'
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17 votes

For an actual exercise, you would have to be face to face with a real teacher. But you can listen to a couple minimal i/e pairs in this video. The woman is really talking like an elementary-school ...

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Is the use of "one of the" correct in the following context?
15 votes

The verb fight has to be plural here. The reason is that the relative clause has to refer to soldiers, not one. The fact that their is used should already be considered evidence of this (or it would ...

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"the printers is" vs. "the printers are"
15 votes

It should be the printer's is, and it is singular, as it refers to a shop, as you say, not to people plural. The 's is a possessive s, with an apostrophe. Whenever you really mean plural printers, ...

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The vs. a: Surprising use of the
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15 votes

This is just an hypothesis, but I think it may have something to do with operating according to a fixed schedule at a high frequency. Public transport does this. Because of that, one vehicle is as ...

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Are electric gadgets running/working or just switched/left on?
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8 votes

Running implies a kind of specific activity. Pumps can be running when they're pumping, or your computer can be running when it's generating CPU cycles of something. When something is on, it simply ...

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Can advise be used as a noun?
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7 votes

In standard English, only advice can be used as a noun. When someone spells the noun as advise, I rather think it is a mere typing mistake, and that he would really pronounce it like advice, not like ...

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Comma before "because"
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7 votes

In short, a comma is very well possible in other because sentences, but it would most likely be wrong in your example. A context can be created in which the comma would be right in your sentence, but, ...

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Infinitive and Gerund Construction
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6 votes

The question When should a verb be followed by a gerund instead of an infinitive? on English Language and Usage is what you need. The first answer contains lists, which I'll reproduce here There is ...

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"What's" and "what are"
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6 votes

Short answer: what are there to think about is wrong; what's on hers is right. When what is used substantively, that is, as a noun, as opposed to an adjective, it can only be singular and have a ...

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Is it okay to write "gale force" without the hyphen?
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6 votes

According to most style guides, yes, you need hyphens in compound adjectives. (Note that this only applies to adjectives that come before the word they modify: in she was old fashioned, it is not ...

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Meaning of "the vanquishing of something"
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5 votes

It means the act of vanquishing Godzilla, so Godzilla loses. When you convert a full clause like someone vanquished Godzilla into a gerund (the -ing form here), the object (Godzilla) becomes a ...

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Is this 'as' an object: "as he called it"?
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5 votes

The words how and as can function as adverbial relative pronouns with verbs like call. The verb call can be used in different ways: With an object complement denoting the name you assign: He ...

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Is there a rule for when the suffix -ian is one syllable long, when two?
4 votes

A rather reliable rule of thumb is as follows, although there are always exceptions. The letters -(i)an in these endings are pronounced as -/ən/, so as one syllable: -sian -cian -tian -gian ...

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What kind of adverbs can modify another adverb?
4 votes

The construction preposition + "there" is informal and probably fairly recent. Or perhaps it is better to speak of three different constructions, because the meaning of each one is not based on the ...

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What is the meaning of "spoken of" in the last of a sentence?
4 votes

To be highly spoken of means to be "spoken of in a way that shows admiration or appreciation", "to be held in high esteem". When people are speaking about you in a certain way, that shows their ...

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Understanding a passage in relation with 'Clauses' and 'Phrases'
4 votes

I can see why Eastwood's explanation might be a bit confusing. A clause consists of at least a subject and a verb; but most clauses contain more than just those two parts. All the phrases/...

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Similar words for 'most talked about' story
4 votes

There is popular, buzzing, prominent, striking, newsworthy, trending...but I think most-talked-about (or most talked-about) is mostly unavoidable if that is really what you want to say. That's why ...

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Can "must" be used in this specific situation?
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3 votes

Yes, why would it not be correct? You're saying it is necessary for you to go to a party. It could be because your mother insists that you should socialise with people, or that you feel your ...

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Is this participial phrase a dangling participle?
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3 votes

This is indeed a 'dangling participle', i.e. a participle that does not seem to modify that which it is supposed to modify. It is considered a grammatical and/or stylistic error by most. Normally, a ...

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Use and meaning of "to VERB" clause
3 votes

I saw that there was not much water left in the bottle, so I picked it up went to the kitchen refilled it. There is a problem with this sentence: you need to add commas. I saw that there was not ...

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parse: out + prepositional phrase
3 votes

Those prepositions are used as adverbs, which happens now and then with prepositions. You can say father is out, to mean "father is [at some place outside the house]", and father is in, to mean "...

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Phrases in the same family as "vice versa"
2 votes

A phrase that comes to mind is mutatis mutandis, "after the things have been changed that needed to be changed". You could use it as in, we will apply the experience with have gained from assisting ...

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Having a ‘gaydar’ means that you will easily recognize who is gay
2 votes

She is there. Why is she there? This is a direct question. In direct questions, subject and verb switch places. She is there. Tell me why she is there. The last example is an indirect ...

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What is the verb and subject of this question?
2 votes

The verb to be is a copula here. With copulae, we usually analyse the first constitutent as the subject, the second one as the subject complement. What = subject is = main verb Apple's stock price = ...

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For ever and forever
2 votes

In short, there is very little difference, if any, and I wouldn't worry about it. Only as a noun ( e.g. until forever) should it always be written as forever. The Oxford English Dictionary says: ...

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Is "which are" omitted from this sentence?
1 votes

I completely agree with Stoney, but I'd like to add a few remarks. Historically, participles (often) and adjectives (sometimes) have always been used after nouns without being part of a relative ...

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