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    A meaningless American word?

    NOT A TEACHER I thought some learners of British English might find this informative and amusing. A British writer is being gently criticized for not using the words "toilet" or "lavatory" or "loo." Instead, she used "the meaningless 'bathroom', presumably with an eye on US readers." 1...
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    What do the British really mean?

    NOT A TEACHER 1. Advanced learners and all Americans might be interested in what I have just read. 2. According to Ms. Holly Hudson, an American comedienne long resident in the United Kingdom, sometimes British people say things that non-British people misunderstand. 3. Here are a few...
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    The meaning of the noun "dodge"

    1. William Safire was a New York Times columnist who wrote a weekly column on English usage. 2. Many of his columns were collected and published as books. 3. He frequently used the word "dodge" in a way that I have never seen. 4. I have been unable to find an explanation on the Web. 5. I...
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    My thanks to "Seinfeld"

    NOT A TEACHER Dear Fellow Learners of English: 1. I am 82 years old. My only language is (American) English. I learn something new about it every day. 2. Yesterday, I was watching an episode of the popular TV comedy show "Seinfeld." I was horrified when I discovered that all my life, I have...
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    ...found herself pregnant to him

    A current British writer wrote a sentence something like (very loosely): "Ms. X found herself pregnant to Mr. Y." Americans would use "by." Are both prepositions acceptable in the United Kingdom? (Here in the States, they certainly are not.) Thank you
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    "What's the haps?"

    ***** NOT A TEACHER ***** I suspect that most members and guests are young people. And young people often like to talk cool. Everyone, even I, knows the greeting "What's up?" But I just learned a new greeting that I had never known: What's the haps? (= What's happening?) I just thought...
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    "Don't remember to forget"

    The famous and beloved and revered Florence Nightingale wrote the following words to a 92-year-old friend. (She underlined two words, not I.) "Remember, you have promised not to ride out in the cold. Don't remember to forget." When I read those last four words, I was stopped right in my...
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    The "face" of a lake

    A newspaper reader describes how beautiful a certain lake is. She tells us that "The view of the lake itself was mesmerizing." She then tells us that tribal legend warned that "bad luck would come to anyone who looked on the face of the [sacred] lake." What is the "face" of a lake? Is it...
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    "This" or "That"?

    Mona can easily spell "onomatopoeia." ____ word, however, always sends me straight to the dictionary. ***** Would you please tell me which word ("this" or "that") is more appropriate? Thank you
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    "For" or "to"?

    "Could you lend me forty dollars? It is too late to get money ..., and I must catch the train for Geneva." Would it also be correct to use the preposition "to"? Would there be a difference in meaning? Thank you Source: The sentence was spoken in the year 1892 by an American. It is quoted...
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    "The best that is possible"

    I have just read a sentence similar (!) to this: "He will institute new policies to ensure the best that is possible that all the people get their favorite ice cream." Is it just I, or do the underlined words sound a bit strange to you, too? I would have probably written: "He will institute...
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    Every one of us deserves ....

    1. Every one of us deserves equal treatment. 2. Every one of us deserve equal treatment. I know that #1 observes the rule (The subject "one" is singular.) I have noticed, however, that many native speakers say #2 (because they are influenced by the proximity of "us"). In fact, last night I...
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    Members in the "Ask a Teacher" forum are told to read widely if they want a larger vocabulary. While reading today, I came across a word for the first time in my life: gasconade. James P.S. If you already know it, I envy you. If you do not, I shan't spoil the joy of consulting a dictionary...
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    "College" or "university"?

    I have just read some information that may interest some people. A college in Los Angeles has just changed its name to a university. 1. The college says that it decided on the name change because it is generally agreed in academic circles that any school that awards at least 50 master's or...
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    Would / wouldn't

    "If the bad guys could harm us, do you have any doubt that they _____?" Which word ("would" or "wouldn't") is grammatically and logically correct in that sentence? Thank you, James
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    Let / leave alone

    "James can barely speak English, let alone French!" I have just learned that some (many?) British people have NO problem with "leave alone" in such sentences. (When I read such a sentence in a British magazine this morning, I was stunned.) Which term would you recommend for our international...
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    Is "the" correct?

    "Influential people put sirens on their private automobiles so that they can rush through the New York City traffic." (I have written "New York City" in order to avoid mentioning the actual city -- and country where influential people have this kind of power.) 1. Grammatically speaking, was...
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    "...bring Earth onside."

    "Mercury and Venus had a war in the year 3015. The leaders of Mercury did their best to bring the leaders of Earth onside (that is, to have the leaders of Earth take the side of Mercury in the war)." My question: Sports aside, do the British people use the word "onside" very much in other...
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    The @ symbol

    I have just read some (useless?) information that I wanted to share with my fellow language fans. (Is this the correct forum?) English speakers refer to the @ symbol as the "at mark" or "commercial at." What about other speakers? According to the March, 2015, print issue of Reader's Digest...
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    "For the rescue"

    [I understand that we members are allowed to mention controversial topics so long as we discuss ONLY the grammatical aspects.] This morning, I was shocked to see this headline on a very popular American news website: Merkel for the rescue. It shows German Chancellor Merkel getting off an...