Why can “dispute” be both verb and noun, but “refute” only a verb?

The word dispute be used as a verb or a noun: Do not dispute me on this. The dispute was settled quickly. However, the word refute can be used only as a verb: I shall refute this claim. The only way to use it as a noun is to add the suffix ‑tation: That was … Read more

-able & -ability usage: Why can’t “searchability” be a word? (Or can it?)

Sometimes I edit a question title on Stack Exchange in order to make it more clear and easier for users to find it when searching. In the comment field I usually enter: “Title edited for clarity and searchability.” I think it gets the point across succinctly, and I don’t really feel compelled to change it … Read more

Can I say “A Chinese” in English?

I can say “An American” or “A Frenchman”, however, can I say “A Chinese” like that? Does it sound weird? Answer Yes, you can say “a Chinese” but yes, it sounds at least a little weird to many people most of the time. This is discussed in Why can we say ‘an American’ but not … Read more

Do words that act as nouns and adjectives in the same form constitute a particular part of speech class?

I’m looking for words similar to female, that can act as nouns and adjectives, but a) can so so only without changing form, and b) are unable to act as other parts of speech. Is there a class or category for this sort of words? P.S. I’ve used the Moby Part-Of-Speech database to filter a … Read more

‘Responsible’ as a noun

In Scandinavian languages, ‘ansvarig’ is an adjective which means ‘responsible’, but is also often used as a noun to denote a role. E.g., every university course has a ‘kursansvarig’. People typically translate this as ‘the course responsible’ in the English versions, which always bugs me, as it sounds wrong and I can find no support … Read more

Is “nearbys” the right word to express “places/ objects that are nearby”? Or does a better word exist?

This came up in a programming context. A group of objects, that are nearby another one, was simply called: nearbys These could be actual places/ locations or really random objects. This raised questions in me: Is this nominalization actually valid or used in everyday language use? Also would it need to change the y in … Read more

What are some examples of “zombie nouns and verbs”?

This is one of the New York Times writing rules.I don’t know exactly what “zombie nouns” and verbs mean here. Can someone give some examples? Rule 6: Write With Non-Zombie Nouns and Verbs Delve into Strunk and White’s fourth style reminder “Write with nouns and verbs” by reading about what Helen Sword calls “Zombie Nouns”: … Read more

using “the”+adj without a noun

Is the following sentence good/legal/understood English? Meditation melts the coarse and solidifies the subtle. If it isn’t, how can this be otherwise expressed, in a neat and concise way? Answer In most European languages, Article + Adjective constructions can have specific reference; the German nickname for Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, for instance, was Der Alte, which … Read more