October 26th, 2010

Have I just made this usage up?

I apologise in advance for the ridiculousness of this question, but I need help with the word "nominal". I'm trying to use it right now in the phrase "nominal family" to describe a group of people who are not family, but act as such to each other because of their circumstances. I feel like this is a phrase that exists, which I have heard, and I sort of had a sense "nominal" could mean "nominated as" in this context, but having been struck with uncertainty and checked the dictionary (OED), I now can't find a definition which makes this phrase work. There's "(of quantity or dimension) but not necessarily corresponding to the stated value" which kind of does, but families aren't quantities or dimensions, or there's the "in name only" definition, but that doesn't feel quite right, because what I'm trying to describe is a group of people who are family in everything but name.

I did google the phrase, and can't see from scanning the hits anyone who's obviously using it in the sense I am, but just because it's not common doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

So, is this a legitimate usage, or have I just made it up, or is my brain really grasping for an entirely different word? Would you understand, or be able to guess, what I meant if I said the phrase to you?

Thanks!

(PS, I'm a British-English speaker, if that makes a stroke of difference)
spell

Ir + a + infinitivo

This construction is pretty basic but not even my Spanish professor could come up with the name of the tense when it was used as "iba a ser." She just called it "future in the past" and that makes no sense.
Normally I'm pretty good at naming tenses, but what's this one called? Is there a specific name for it?

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thief the hare too!

Law Abiding.

Hola, fellow linguaphiles!

I used to have a decent grasp of these things, but I'm starting to confuse even myself now.

Which among these are grammatically correct?

1. "in compliance with" or "in compliance to"

2. "in accordance to" or "in accordance with"

3. "in adherence with" or "in adherence to"

How about any other synonymous phrases that are used to mean more or less the same thing: "in agreement with/to", etc.

Thanks in advance ya.