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Picture of Kalleh
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My husband and I had disagreed last night about the meaning of a "single" man. To me, it could mean an unmarried man, period. He could be a widower, divorced, or never married. My husband thinks "single" means never married. How do you use it?
 
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I agree with you, Kalleh. "Single" to me means not having a partner, whether that means you never had one, had one but got divorced or had one and they died. Whenever anyone asks me my marital status and I answer single, they usually want to know if I had ever had someone. That is when I say I have never been married.
 
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I can see how you mean this, but I was in the position of being "unmarried" for a few years. I found that the way most divorced women were referring to ourselves at that time. I would feel very funny calling myself "single" when I had two children hanging on me! To me, "single" means never having been married. But "unmarried" means that you have been married, but are not married at the moment.
 
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Picture of Kalleh
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Some of the definitions in dictionary.com are downright insulting:

"alone; having no companion" Come on! Many of my single friends are living it up!

"relating to celebacy" for Priests, maybe (and even then.... Eek Razz)

"solitary" well, I suppose that works for "single" in other contexts...

However, most cites are "unmarried". Why does "unmarried" mean that you have been married, but aren't now. Doesn't it merely mean "not being married"? dictionary.com seems to define it that way: "one who is not married"; "having no spouse".
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Kalleh:
"relating to celebacy" for Priests, maybe (and even then.... Eek Razz)

Celibacy has two meanings:

1. Abstinence from sexual intercourse, especially by reason of religious vows.

2. The condition of being unmarried.

Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition

So one can be both celibate and sexually active, according to denition 2.

The Usage Note under celibate says the historical meaning is "unmarried". Just another example of how word meanings change.

Tinman
 
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Picture of C J Strolin
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I agree. "Divorced," "widowed," etc are just sub-divisions of "Single." If I tell someone I'm single and they want more information I simply ask if they are comtimplating asking me for my hand themselves. Shakes them up every time (especially if it's another guy!).

But along more important lines, does my punctuation at the end of that last sentence "!)." strike anyone else as odd? Duplicate punctuation marks seem to make sense in structures such as these but just look odd.
 
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Picture of Richard English
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Not wrong but it can look clumsy.

Another such instance is when you have a succession of brackets within brackets which can often mean (in convoluted writing [by which I mean complex {or careless!}]).

I try to re-write in such instances.

Richard English
 
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Picture of Kalleh
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quote:
(especially if it's another guy!).
Funny, recently I have been wondering about that type of punctuation, myself. I use a lot of parentheses and exclamation marks, perhaps wrongly, and sometimes I never know if I should use 2 punctuations. So, Richard, you say it is correct? Remember the example in our Style Guide, written by our editor, that you said is incorrect: The nurse who wrote the article, "Why is Licensure Important?," submitted a new article....

Aren't they similar? I was thinking because 2 punctuation marks shouldn't be used in the latter sentence that 2 shouldn't be used with the parenthesis.
 
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Single, in this sense, simply means unmarried. To some it has the connotation of “never married”. Notice that many forms that ask for your marital status give three or four choices: single, married, widowed, divorced.

Jack Lynch of Rutgers University comments on denotation vs. connotation:

A denotation is a word's literal meaning; a connotation is the suggestions and associations that go with it. Dictionaries usually give a word's denotations, but are often less useful in revealing connotations; a good writer, though, will be very conscious of the hidden meanings carried by every word. Think, for instance, about the phrases make love, have intercourse, make whoopie, copulate, mate, and screw — they all have the same literal meaning, but they're not at all interchangeable. See Diction, Dictionaries, and Audience.

Tinman

[This message was edited by tinman on Fri Oct 10th, 2003 at 22:33.]
 
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Picture of Richard English
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Don't confuse accuracy with style. It's quite possible for a construction to be accurate, but offensive to the eye because of its poor style.

The use of multiple punctuation marks could sometimes be an example of poor style and, as I suggested, it is probably better to re-write.

Another example is created by the lack of an English neutral singular pronoun. Thus the sentence, "...If a customer comes in to your office and he or she asks you to sell him or her a suitable gift for his or her partner..." is grammatically accurate but would be far better stylistically if it were to be expressed in the plural, thus allowing the use of "them" as the pronoun.

Richard English
 
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Picture of jerry thomas
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quote:
"...If a customer comes in to your office and he or she asks you to sell him or her a suitable gift for his or her partner..."


I prefer total pluralization.

If customers come into my store and ask me to sell them suitable gifts for their partners I do that willingly.

How does that grab you?
 
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That's exactly what I meant. You didn't imagine for a moment that I was advocating the use of a plural pronoun to agree with a singular subject, did you?

Richard English
 
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<Asa Lovejoy>
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I've been married, and have sired two sons, but I consider myself to be single. I consider a man who's never been married to be a bachelor.

So, what do they call an unmarried fourteen-year-old girl in Texas? An old maid.

Kalleh, I think you read too much into single's being defined as alone. That simply means not with someone, NOT in despair! There are some of us who relish time alone as well as time with others. As you know from our PMs (Not PMS, as I'm asymptomatic) I am greatly enjoying time with my new girlfriend, but I do enjoy my time alone.
 
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Picture of Kalleh
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Asa, it is probably more due to my taking words literally, than anything else. Plus, you are correct, there is a big difference from "being alone" to being "lonely".

Tinman brings up a good point in the distinction between connotation and denotation. Yes, Tinman, I see your point, and that may be the error of my way. By the way, your example was excellent and somewhat of a coincidence. Shufitz and I were just saying that a good thread would be words about "making love"; then we worried that it could become too risque. However, if anyone wants to start it.... Wink
 
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Picture of shufitz
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quote:
Originally posted by Kalleh:
... if anyone wants to start it.... Wink


To what referent does "it" refer, dear? Does anyone else sense a possible ambiguity here? Red Face
 
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quote:
Originally posted by shufitz:
quote:
Originally posted by Kalleh:
... if anyone wants to start it.... Wink


To what referent does "it" refer, dear? Does anyone else sense a possible ambiguity here? Red Face

Why, it refers to thread in the previous sentence. What did you think it referred to?

Tinman
 
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Kalleh says: "Plus, you are correct, there is a big difference from "being alone" to being "lonely"."

One of my favorite songs includes the line:

"There's a big difference between lonely And lonely for way too long".

This too, rings very true. The song is "Spilled Perfume" by Pam Tillis.
 
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