English Language & Usage Weekly Newsletter
English Language & Usage Weekly Newsletter

Top new questions this week:

How did "s***" and "the s***" come to mean opposite things?

Your idea is shit Your idea is bad. Your idea is the shit Your idea is good. The same does not apply to "the crap" or "the poop", or other profanity like "the fuck". I can think of ...

*etymology *slang  
asked by Owen 39 votes
answered by ermanen 32 votes

Friendly way of saying "I love you"

In Spanish, Te amo (I love you) has more romantic feeling than saying Te quiero. The last one is used as a friendly way of saying I love you, but without romantic purposes. However, if translated to ...

*word-choice *expressions *american-english *british-english *spanish  
asked by Mati Cicero 29 votes
answered by Jon Mark Perry 24 votes

I've said it once, I've said it twice, I've said it a thousand times: English doesn't make sense

I had a student moaning at me because I insisted he say twice and not "two times". And he asked "But why?" to which I replied, "Because that's how you say it!" However on reflection, his question was ...

*etymology *numbers *triple-thrice  
asked by Mari-Lou A 20 votes
answered by tchrist 32 votes

Avoiding stuffy language: "Therefore", "Thus"

In my thesis, I'm using "thus" and "therefore" a lot. This is repetitive and it sounds stuffy. Is there any alternative which sounds a bit more relaxed but is acceptable in scientific writing? "So" ...

*synonyms *formality *style  
asked by Johannes Bauer 18 votes
answered by Paul A. Clayton 6 votes

Is there a word for lowering the importance of something by summarizing it?

Often times someone will tell a long winded story, and then someone will reply with something like "So basically you just had a bad day." Another, I think better example is when someone will talk a ...

*single-word-requests *verbs  
asked by jamesnicolas 14 votes
answered by ssdecontrol 22 votes

Trigonometry is to triangles as ____ is to circles

Trigonometry is to triangles as ____ is to circles What is this kind of sentence called? Does it have a name? Also, what is the blank space in this context called?

asked by Ogen 13 votes
answered by X-Man 25 votes

Word like "sirsee" for an unexpected, usually small, gift?

Throughout our marriage, my wife would occasionally come in from shopping and hand me a bag containing an unexpected gift...anything from a small bag of candy to a shirt. When I'd ask why she got ...

asked by Roy 12 votes
answered by Dan Bron 14 votes

Greatest hits from previous weeks:

Do you really answer "How do you do?" with "How do you do?"

We're told in our English classes (learning English as a foreign language) that the only possible answer to How do you do? is to repeat the question: How do you do? (While it's ...

*greetings *questions  
asked by valya 50 votes
answered by ShreevatsaR 32 votes

Can someone explain the phrase "All is fair in love and war"?

What are its origins and what does it really mean?

*meaning *idioms *history *proverbs  
asked by naomi 16 votes
answered by MrHen 22 votes

Can you answer these?

Why is "dynamic" modality so called?

It is said that there are three types of modality: deontic, epistemic and dynamic. Here are sample sentences for each type of modality: (1) You can stay as long as you want. [deontic] (2) ...

*meaning-in-context *terminology *modality  
asked by JK2 1 vote

Sentence stress and word linking with the problematic Y?

the question: Can I use your bathroom? phonetically looks like: [kə_naɪ ˈyuz yər ˈbæθˌrum] I think the stress should be on the verb USE and the noun BATHROOM. Am I right? Some dictionaries show the ...

*american-english *pronunciation *stress  
asked by Zoltan King 1 vote

My grandmother used an idiom " ought have been a wheelbarrow"

My grandmother (who was of Irish descent)was born in the New England area of NSW, Australia. She used an idiom that she "ought have been a wheelbarrow". I think it meant something about a lack of ...

*expressions *idioms  
asked by Jen 1 vote
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