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The Free Dictionary Language Forums
Sunday, February 9, 2014
Monday, November 19, 2018 12:30:00 AM
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Last 10 Posts
The Free Dictionary will not work properly with ad-blockers
Sunday, February 8, 2015 3:18:09 PM
I have added nothing that would block ads in all the time I've been a member, yet I still get the message. I get an abundance of ads on other sites and have always gotten plenty of ads on TFD. Suddenly this notice in red began appearing yesterday and today. I have to believe it's something that's been tinkered with on
site. I don't know what to do on my end--I can't change back because I haven't changed. Does this mean I will continue to get this message? Barring a fix, should I just leave this wonderful site? As Yul said, "It's a puzzlement!"
I love knowledge and hate ignorance.
Wednesday, December 3, 2014 9:19:05 PM
Paul, you say you want to attain perfection in your writing and that this is your passion and commitment. It's a wonderful thing to find passion and an area of study upon which you wish to lavish it. Keep at it. More than 50 years ago, Ray Bradbury said on a radio program we were both on to discuss writing (he was already a master of his art and craft; I was a young writer with little published), "Write 1,000 words a day for a year to find out whether or not you are a writer." Many others have expressed similar thoughts. No one, to the best of my knowledge, has ever intimated that perfection can be achieved.Here's why:
1. There are schools of people who debate the placement of commas and what a complete sentence must contain and in what order the words must fall. Far from diminishing, these discussions have proliferated over the years.
2. Different people appreciate different modes of expression. There is no pleasing everyone. Sadly, even the Bard of Avon has taken it in the neck with scholarly criticism of his diction and a host of other matters including some instances of his choices of mood for expressing various concepts. Libraries are filled with criticism of his works from all angles: structure, meaning--I don't mean to belabor this point, but if Shakespeare is criticized, I know I am and so is anyone else who writes the best he can. Many of us achieve a high degree of expertise in language usage and our works are mostly accepted as competent. But perfect? No.
3. People, even with dictionaries on-and off-line and this forum for clarifying discussions of usage, will none-the-less often continue individual understanding of words and language structures. We are all individuals, and writing will often show up our idiosyncrasies to good advantage. That's often what makes different writers interesting and arresting. Anyone can point to a Joyce or a host of others to underline this point.
There is a huge difference between scholarly writing and creative writing. Both areas continue with some basic rules agreed upon and a host of others in question. The problem, Paul, is that no one can say what perfection looks like, so you must decide what perfection means for you, given all the advice you can garner from the wise folk who pop in here selflessly to help (and I'm not talking about myself!).
Within your own realm, Paul, you have already achieved a certain level in the pursuit of the perfect: you write, you wonder, you pursue answers, you
understood, and you continue to strive to improve by the best lights you can find to illuminate your path. It's not possible to do more. Your dream is the impossible dream (actually, I'm sure it's the dream of everyone who writes in this forum). Like Quixote's journey, it is
. That, however, will never be a good reason to get off the horse for someone as devoted as yourself. And that's a good thing!
Best of luck, Paul.
Sunday, November 16, 2014 6:53:25 PM
Barnacle Barney Bill wrote:
Guys I can't think fast enough to keep up with your posts. I just learned how to compose a Haiku today. Here goes:
there! A shooting star
I hear the knock at the door
too soon I must go
my first ever Haiku
pray tell me how did I do
oh oh, just so so
Congratulations, Barnacle Bill. You have certainly fit your thoughts into the prescribed syllables and lines. You will find writers of modern poetry have different ideas and sensibilities than the classic Japanese form, and a penchant for not using
or season words. Many use it as quasi-narrative form. I like your haiku. "Shooting star"has been used as a seasonal word--or phrase--on occasion, and I truly enjoy the correspondence between the first and third line. Your haiku does have its aha! moment in which you and the shooting star become one (one interpretation, if someone were playing critic and interpreting--haiku are usually meant to be experienced in a flash of consciousness). Everything I put in parenthesis can and will be argued by scholars as it has been for hundreds of years. Books by R. H. Blyth are particularly good for understanding the art of haiku. He wrote a definitive series just on the haiku by season.
The short and the long is, for me, you've achieved a haiku! Now you can spend the rest of your life flashing your consciousness and deep understanding of the mysteries of Zen ( or any other discipline that helps you to see your face before you were born).
Onwards and upwards!
Do I really need the articles for the definitions?
Sunday, November 16, 2014 4:24:27 PM
Do I really need the red articles for the definitions? I don't think so, but I don't know why.
Must and Have to
These two modals in affirmative sentences can express
obligation in doing something in the present or future.
These two modals in affirmative sentences can also express
necessity in doing something in the present or future.
Unlike other posters here, I think it is quite correct either to use or to omit the indefinite articles, but, in any case, other changes are necessary, as Thar suggests. In your examples, "obligation" and "necessity" are used as concepts rather than specific duties that must be performed. Therefor, "a necessity" or "an obligation" would be specific tasks, whereas without the articles they remain ideas as opposed to a concept put to specific action. If we omit the articles, we may say, "Obligation is what we commit ourselves to when we pledge our loyalty." " or "Necessity is the mother of invention." These usages are correct. In your sentence, it could read, "These two modals in affirmative sentences can express obligation to do something in the present or the future." The same would apply to the other sentence. Hope this helps. I'll check back in case you have a further question.
Are the differences between 'must' and 'have to' only in British English?
Sunday, November 16, 2014 3:42:57 PM
As a speaker of British English I can't remember the last time I used must.
My impression is that it is a childish emphatic and 'have to' is more mature.
I like the way this forum makes me think instead of taking my language for granted
I appreciate that, as a BE speaker, your use of diction and inflection will sometimes (often?) be different than my AE. I would venture, though, that in AE
is not thought of as a childish emphatic (except, perhaps, when we instruct a child he/she MUST wash hands before dinner! LOL). For instance, the fact that it intensifies when used in the sentence, " We
defeat the Nazis or all is lost!" is probably warranted usage in the most adult extremity without appearing as melodrama or youthful extravagance.
I suppose it does elicit a chuckle, though, when used in the old rhyme women used to use when exercising, "I must, I must, I must increase my bust!"
Language is fun, and this forum
cause us to ponder, as you note!
Wednesday, November 12, 2014 5:32:47 PM
Frankly, S21d, if you used "humbly request" the meaning would reside in your expression and tone of voice. The result might be quite variable. Some might regard it as "wise ass" and become hostile if there is the hint of irony in your vocal or physical expression. An altercation would probably follow. However, if you said it with a sweet smile on your face and a hint of "please" in your voice, you might get a positive result even with some smoker who is desperately tired of being subjected to scorn and self-righteous demands. Of course, if you are simply humbly requesting your table mates
pass the damned butter they've been hogging at the other end, you might evoke a smile or two and a sheepish grin.
As for me, I do not countenance smoking in my presence and, like Alice's queen, I routinely have their heads taken off.
I think Romany has it right to a large degree. We would say "Could you please stop smoking" in AE, but are more likely to say "Would" instead of "could". "Please stop smoking." is a bit peremptory, though it's sometimes used. After all, smoking near another person is an invasion of their lungs, and they may feel in a peremptory mood.
Many people in the States, aggressive as we are as a people, will simply point to the "NO SMOKING" sign and query the offender with sarcasm dripping from our lips, "CAN YOU READ?!?" The colloquies that emerge from such an opening are a writer's dream.
Friday, October 31, 2014 7:51:15 PM
I like the way you put that Hebble
"It depends upon the depth to which you wish to thrust"
. It is metaphorically colourful!
May I ask, is English your 1st language? It seems to me it must be. Taking into account the short length of your reply, your command of the language seems quite developed.
,I appreciate your friendly observation. Yes, English is my first language, and I love to have fun with it.At this time, having been awarded a number of degrees in the language and two others in other disciplines (I really don't consider any of that a terribly important--just giving background), I've gotten to a point of comfort and have come to accept that we should never straitjacket language (I am a wanton American who loves to
nouns!) with institutional rules except as convenient for specific tasks. Language must be free to dance on its own. If we don't allow a certain amount of fluidity, everyone else will simply take it and run with it anyway, and we'll be dancing their jitterbug (yes, I'm
old!). LOL As you can see, I can run on with parenthesis fever. Have you ever felt you have too many ideas and steps you want to get out all at once? That's always been my problem: how to compound my dances into fluid transitional movements, one into the next, without mixing flavors to disadvantage, but I no longer worry about it!
Thanks for asking. I send you a salute from the U.S. west coast:
Ave atque vale! Morituri te salutamus!
But not if I can evade the lions!
To see a World in a Grain of Sand,
And Heaven in a Wild Flower.
To Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand,
And Eternity in an hour.
Thursday, October 30, 2014 8:58:40 PM
Of course it all depends upon the depth to which you wish to thrust. I heard a professor in a literary seminar years ago upbraid a graduate student with the comment, "That is idiotsyncratic to you!" The recipient's reply, mumbled and barely audible, cannot (really
not) be printed here.
...trample on the country...
Tuesday, October 28, 2014 6:07:16 PM
As it happens, the argot of the ghetto and certain forms of rap music is hardly understood even by us lowly Americans (LOL), and it is spoken by the vast majority--if at all--in jest or by way of affectation, often for humor."Trample" on the country would be correct if he were a cruel tyrant. "Demean" the country or "show disrespect" would certainly be better. I assume that in coming years, the economy of using "disrespect" will eventually prevail. After all, if one can say, "I respect you.", one should just as economically say, "I disrespect you." Occasionally, logic will prevail. Hail to you all.
Which one is correct ?
Sunday, October 26, 2014 7:04:25 PM
She keeps me busy is correct. However, she
keeps me busy is emphatic.
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