The Idiom Guide

Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Poziga, Aug 25, 2014.

  1. Poziga

    Poziga Contributor Contributor

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    Could you please explain what are the rules here? I wanna know for next time I come across this.
    I looked on the internet, but didn't know exactly what to type :p
     
  2. thirdwind

    thirdwind Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Truth is, I'm not really sure what to type either. I'll try searching for some rule/guide from a good source and get back to you if I find anything.
     
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  3. jonahmann

    jonahmann Active Member

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    It might be useful to look up noun modifiers and the definite article.
     
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  4. Poziga

    Poziga Contributor Contributor

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  5. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This is something that has been bugging me for years, I think, and I'm wondering if it's a similar randomness thingy as the sort of a/sort of I asked about earlier.

    Which one is correct?
    He understood he was a part of something momentous.
    He understood he was part of something momentous.

    'Cause quite often I see "part of" without the article, but I still haven't figured out the logic there. When should I leave it out, when should I keep it -- if ever? Is this yet another case of idiomatic usage that defies grammar rules?
     
  6. Shadowfax

    Shadowfax Contributor Contributor

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    I think that it's a matter of emphasis..."part of something momentous" implies that he's involved with it, along with 10,000 other bit-players..."a part of something momentous" implies that he's a significant part of it, that he's one of those without whom it wouldn't happen.
     
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  7. thirdwind

    thirdwind Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    As far as I'm aware, there's no difference between the two. They are equivalent statements.
     
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  8. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Thanks, guys. :) As long as I know it's grammatically ok to use either.
     
  9. cutecat22

    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Strange that one little word (part) would cause so much hassle. I think it's because saying 'part' gives no defining moment within the timescale of momentousness that the guy was a part of. But, if we give a more specific time stamp, then 'a' (or lack there of) would change to 'the' and you couldn't have the sentence without it:

    He understood he was the beginning of something momentous.
    He understood he was the end of something momentous.
    He understood he was the turning point in something momentous.


    Which actually verifies what @Shadowfax says about being a part of something meaning him and other people rather than the one and only person playing a part in the momentousness of something.

    (Momentousness! What a word!)
     
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  10. Hwaigon

    Hwaigon Member Reviewer

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    Oxford Collocations Dictionary is an answer to most of my linguistic dilemmas.

    To the online research, I'd only add ngram viewer by google, a tool that is able to compare two linguistic units, for instance "blame FOR" and "blame OF".
     
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  11. Hwaigon

    Hwaigon Member Reviewer

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    @cutecat22

    (Momentousness! What a word!)

    Same like "contemporaneous" :)
     
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  12. Poziga

    Poziga Contributor Contributor

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    Fellow writers, I have to questions this fine evening. :D

    First, I'm checking if modern electric lights can be lit, or is the only option that the lights were turned on/off?

    Second question: when you wake up and if you want that your bed is tidy/in order, the expression is that you "make the bed". But what if one doesn't make his bed? Is the expression then "the bed was unmade" or is it something else? I couldn't find the solution, and "unmade" sounds funny to me, so I decided to check here. :)
     
  13. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    He folded his arms and frowned at the room. The refrigerator was open, the bed was unmade, the floor was scattered with socks, and every light in the place was lit. "Sheesh. Slobs."

    I'd say that "...was on." is more common than "...was lit." but the above works for me.
     
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  14. thirdwind

    thirdwind Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    "Every light was lit" suggests candles or lanterns (something someone would light themselves), not light bulbs. So go with on/off.

    For your second question, "the bed was unmade" is correct.
     
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  15. SwampDog

    SwampDog Senior Member

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    As before, lit suggests the act of lighting e.g. he lit a cigarette/oil lamp/candle. Electric lights generally go on/off.

    A digression, it used to be in UK road traffic law (don't know if it still is) that a light is a light when it's lit/on, but it's a lamp when it's off. Hence the difference between headlights and headlamps. But then we'd describe something as lit up like a Christmas tree - but that's more a turn of phrase. Ah, the subtleties of the language.
     
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  16. cutecat22

    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Every lamp was burning ... Is a contender but much the same as above, it would give the idea of candles/oil lamps.

    On the bed thing, you could go with "the bed had obviously been slept in recently" if you are unhappy with the description unmade.

    However, unmade is the proper term for it.
     
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  17. Poziga

    Poziga Contributor Contributor

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    Great, thank you :)
     
  18. Poziga

    Poziga Contributor Contributor

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    Hey. :)

    Is the correct form marker stains, marker's stains or marker's stains? I am referring to plural here. In my language second two forms are correct. I have a feeling it's marker's stains, but I am not 100% sure. If the first form is correct, I would appreciate a short explanation.
    Thank you. :)
     
  19. Wreybies

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Supporter Contributor

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    It would be the first in common parlance. The possessive (genitive) would not come into play here, but instead English creates a simple stacked noun phrase. Marker serves as a noun pressed into service as an adjective.
     
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  20. Poziga

    Poziga Contributor Contributor

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    The more I looked at the words, the more I had the feeling it was the first option. :D

    Thank you for clarification. :)
     
  21. HelloImRex

    HelloImRex Senior Member

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    Yeah, "every light was lit" is confusing. "Every bulb was lit" is not as confusing because bulb adds precision. I don't like ending sentences with the word on so I'd probably say every bulb was lit. Its not really about it being at the end of a sentence even, "With every light on the anteater resumed eating ants." or "With every bulb lit the anteater resumed eating turtles." . I like the second one better, maybe I have weird tastes though.

    I mean I guess I've always considered the on/off switch as a control for a circuit that turned the circuit on or off while the light was either lit or unlit based on the position of this circuit.

    Broken/completed or on/off is what you would say for a circuit.

    In conclusion, try "The light was completed.".


    Also, you could say "The house was unlit." and that works fine. You can't say, "The house was lit." I think the problem is the word "light" and not the word "lit". Light has too many meanings so it is unclear what type of lighting a light provides while something such as bulb is more specific.

    Yeah, people say "The lights were on" or "The lights were off" in speak so it really depends on what voice the writing is supposed to be in. If its a serial killer scoping out a real estate deal and trying to determine if the house he wants to look at is open or not then he'd use on/off. If it is clearly supposed to be a descriptive section by some pompous narrator then maybe something else would be better.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2015
  22. hvb

    hvb Member

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    I also have problems with prepositions. In German language it's a disaster in this early stage of learning with them, but in English only a few prepositions are hard to differentiate; from and of, are two of them.

    Boy, do I relate to that. I have been Australia from the Netherlands for 50 years, and I still have trouble with from and of.
     
  23. Poziga

    Poziga Contributor Contributor

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    I don't completely understand the concept of the verb "animate". Do you always need an object with it

    Examples:
    Dense rowd animated chaos on the streets.
    Chaos animated on the streets.
    (the examples may be a bit weird, but in context they're ok)

    Definition in Oxford says that animate means give life to.... so by that definition the second example is false, but it doesn't sound wrong to me...

    Hilfe, bitte. :D
     
  24. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributor Contributor

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    Use it with faces and features. He writhed in a most animated way at the news of his impending fatherhood. It was then that Gerald spat his toast...

    The closest I can approach your usage might be:

    'You don't seem very enthusiastic or animated about the news.'

    'But darling I am animated. Look at my face, look at these eyes shine, my love.'

    ...
    You might use it as a verb to suggest robotics, I suppose. 'An animated arena of clockwork drones' kind of thing, but you'd have to be cautious to nail it for the reader to visualise your, ummm, sense of 'sense.' [not verb, you idiot]

    I'll have to think on about 'verbs.' Maybe in academic writing - 'We animate an entire ancient civilisation through the medium of ...'
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2015
  25. Poziga

    Poziga Contributor Contributor

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    I see, it's better used as an adjective, but I wanted to use it as a verb... One of the things I can gather form your explanation is that maybe I should look for a different word? :D

    I'll give you the context, to better imagine what I want to say:
    A problem quickly arose. All life just grew and evolved, nothing... died. The planets became overcrowded. Survival of the fittest lost its meaning, it was now survival of the numerically superior. Mass of unorganized organisms animated chaos. I can imagine planets crying, their sobbing echoing through the quite space.
     

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