Answers

Answers to common questions about the English language.

What's the difference between "problem", "trouble", and "issue"?

The words "problem", "trouble", and "issue" are very close in meaning. What's the difference bewtween them? The answer is quite complicated, actually! Let's look at the meaning of each word and some of the ways that they're used:

The meanings of "problem", "trouble", and...


How sure should I be when I say 'I believe ~'?

A reader emailed me this question:

Can you help me with "I believe" please? – which I'm sure suggests that "I'm not entirely sure about what I'm going to say", but at the same time, is it based on my knowledge or experience. 

When I say "I believe that~", does it mean that I'm "just...


How do you use 'can' and 'could' correctly?

A PhraseMix reader asked this:

Please tell me which verbs can be used with "could"? In the present past as well as future...?

"Can" and "Could" are tricky because you can use them for a few different purposes, and the rules are different for each version.

"Can" and "Could" for ability

You can...


What's the difference between "under", "below", "beneath", and "underneath"?

These words are all similar in meaning, but figuring out the differences between them can be a little tricky. First, it's helpful to know how common each word is:

1. "Under" is the most popular.

2. "Below" is used about 1/4 as often as "under"

3. "Beneath" is used 1/2 as often as "below"

4....


How do you use the words "clothes", "clothing", "apparel", "garb", and "attire"?

When it comes to a group of synonyms like "clothes", "clothing", "apparel", "garb", and "attire", how do you know the differences between them? If you look them up in a dictionary, you'll probably get definitions which seem to point to each other. For example, here's one definition of "attire"...





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