This tag is for questions concerning the written representation of the English language, especially spelling and word breaks (including hyphenation).

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41
votes
9answers
16k views

Is it “alright” or “allright”?

In practice I find both spellings being used. From a logical point of view, "allright" (as in: "all's right — everything is fine") seems correct. However, I recall hearing that "alright" is the ...
10
votes
4answers
7k views

Is “thankyou” acceptable as a single word?

I was doing a small piece of language translation in Google Translate, and it detected the use of "thankyou" in the text and asked "do you mean - thank you". Is the single word version - thankyou - ...
1
vote
0answers
51 views

Why are surnames often misspellings of English words? [duplicate]

Why do English surnames so often seem to be derived from slight misspellings of common English words? Weekes Thorne Browne Lilley Keene Paige Lowe Hooke Hawthorne Sargent Whyte Chappell Horne ad ...
1
vote
1answer
34 views

Capital letter for competition names? [closed]

I was writing recently, and wanted to reference a competition managed by the Economist Intelligence Unit. It's called the "Global Liveability Rating". First of all, should I capitalize the name of ...
1
vote
0answers
63 views

What's the correct spelling of the made-up word meaning “to treat like an oracle”? [closed]

I'd like to know which alternative sounds better to native speakers: "oraclize" or "oracolize"? The point is to have a made-up word composed by "oracle" and the "-ize suffix". Thanks in advance
1
vote
1answer
41 views

What's the difference between unapproachable and inapproachable? [closed]

Could anyone explain why does it have two versions, because as far as I know, there are some rules of formation of antonyms. Isn't there should be only one proper prefix? Or both are possible? Thank ...
13
votes
7answers
28k views

What's the difference between “adviser” and “advisor” — are both interchangeable?

I work for a financial services provider and we deal with "Financial Advisors" all the time. Increasingly, I'm seeing people send emails and so forth with the term "Financial Adviser" and the terms ...
1
vote
1answer
52 views

Proper way to include a single character in a sentence, “V,” 'V,' or italic? [closed]

What is the proper way to include a single character within a sentence, double quotation marks, single quotation marks, or italicize it? For example, should it be: The man's face resembled a "V." ...
6
votes
3answers
3k views

“shyer” or “shier”

My Longman dictionary states that the comparative of 'shy' is 'shyer'. However, at least two online dictionaries also give the form 'shier' as being acceptable: The Free Dictionary and ...
30
votes
6answers
82k views

What is the difference between dialogue and dialog?

I am American, and I always thought the difference between dialogue and dialog was one of meaning, the way Merriam-Webster has them listed: 2 entries found: dialogue (noun) dialog box ...
26
votes
2answers
5k views

How and when did American spelling supersede British spelling in the US?

Considering that Webster published his first dictionary in 1806, is there a recognised tipping point (year, decade, etc.) that marked the move from traditional British spelling to Webster's American? ...
-2
votes
2answers
96 views

She kicked me in the “sac” or “sack”? Reference is to the testicles

How do we spell "sac" / "sack" when referring to the testicles? Is it: She kicked me in the "sack" or "sac"?
0
votes
1answer
44 views

What is the proper way to write about a “layoff”? [closed]

When talking about "layoffs", what is the proper way to write it? When referring to it as a noun, is it "lay off", "layoff", or "lay-off"? What about when using it as a verb in both present and past ...
2
votes
1answer
46 views

Should I use the “correct” form or the form used in the specification

I'm writing about a web framework. Integral part of it is its lifecycle. Apparently (as for example my browser tells me), this is not the correct spelling. I should either use life cycle or ...
0
votes
1answer
55 views

Hance/Hence connection?

In researching the verb 'hence' I noted the several forms listed in the OED, two of which were: "hennes or henes" from Middle English usage. Similarly with the verb 'hance' I noted that scholars have ...
9
votes
1answer
28k views

Spelling “Yeah” and “Yea”

When I read the words "yea" or "yeah", each spelling can mean two different things. An exclamation of joy, as in, Yea[h] for ice cream!` Assent, like "yep" or "yes", as in, Yea[h], ...
9
votes
1answer
4k views

Why is “great” pronounced as “grate”, but spelled with “ea”?

Great is one of the few common English words in which "ea" is pronounced /eɪ/ (ay). Why is this pronunciation associated with this spelling? As an aside, I remember from researching for my answer to ...
3
votes
1answer
3k views

Correct spelling and/or hyphenation for electronic commerce

What is the correct spelling and/or hyphenation for the abbreviation of electronic commerce? I have seen the following variations. eCommerce E-Commerce ECommerce E-commerce
2
votes
1answer
134 views

The meaning of the word 'Han'?

In referencing Webster's dictionary of 1828 I came across the entry for the word 'Han'. The definition was stated as: "for have, in the plural." Source: Spenser. What does this mean and how was it ...
26
votes
2answers
71k views

Is there a difference between Therefor and Therefore? [closed]

I'm a non-native English speaker, and my automatic spellchecker seems to accept both therefore and therefor. Is one orthography preferred ? Is that a British vs. American difference ? Or an old vs. ...
17
votes
2answers
248 views

Space before apostrophe

In the 1928 Scribner’s (NY) edition of The Plays of J. M. Barrie, I’ve noticed an odd convention: where a contraction happens in middle of a word (e.g., “don’t” for “do n(o)t”), the apostrophe has the ...
0
votes
2answers
141 views

How do you write the expression of disgust that sounds like “er”?

My daughter said to me this morning (the context is irrelevant): Er, it's all wet! The interjection I have written here as Er was synonymous with Yuck. Its wetness did not cause great happiness. ...
15
votes
2answers
43k views

“Successfull”/“successful” — is this a UK/US difference? [closed]

I would tend to write double-l, but Google gives me more single-l, so I'm guessing it's an Atlantic divide thing. And I guess all the other *full words.
10
votes
1answer
214 views

Relic as a verb: why the spelling relicing, reliced?

I just discovered the verb relic, meaning “to make something look worn” and used as far as I can tell only about guitars. (Examples: 1 2 3 …) I was surprised to see that its participles are pretty ...
5
votes
1answer
196 views

What is to be made of “e” ending so many Middle English words?

I was recently reading about the life of Robert I (the Bruce) of Scotland. On his deathbed, since he had been unable to go on crusade to the Holy Land as he had once pledged to do, he directed that ...
-1
votes
1answer
54 views

why is it “one European institution”, but “European Institutions” (with capital i) if talking about several authorities?

I found this spelling differentiation on the website of the EU commission and you can see it on wikipedia, too: "There are a range of European Institutions in Strasbourg (France), the oldest of which ...
1
vote
2answers
681 views

Accent Marks in English

Why doesn't the English language have accent marks? I have been trying to understand the critical differences that are present between the English and Spanish language, however I just can not wrap my ...
7
votes
2answers
233k views

“Dammit” vs. “damnit” [closed]

What is the correct spelling, dammit or damnit? And what is the difference? Just writing this question brings up a red squiggly underneath damnit and the suggestions include dammit and damn it.
20
votes
3answers
113k views

Co-Founder, Co-founder, or cofounder?

I've seen all three used and there doesn't seem to be a definitive one that I can find. I'm hedging towards Co-Founder as it's a title, but any clarity would be appreciated. Edit If it makes it any ...
26
votes
2answers
11k views

What's the deal with “colonel”?

Why does the word colonel (as in military rank) have such a strange spelling compared to how it's pronounced (or vice versa, although I don't know how you would pronounce that)?
2
votes
2answers
66 views

Hyphenation of “left hand side”

I would like to know exactly where (or whether) "the right hand side", "the left hand wall", etc. should be hyphenated.
37
votes
2answers
3k views

Where does “ö” fall in alphabetical ordering?

Much to my surprise, I just learned that some English-language documents use the ö character. I need to know, when sorting words in an English-language document, where is ö placed? before A? ...
2
votes
3answers
562 views

“semi transparent”, what is used in between?

How do you write the word semi transparent (meaning partially transparent)? semitransparent semi-transparent semi transparent I found each of them on the Internet and none of them in my English ...
5
votes
2answers
133 views

Why “pastime” but not “passtime”?

pastime n. An activity that occupies one's spare time pleasantly: Sailing is her favorite pastime. [TFD] Etymonline says that it is from pass + time: late 15c., passe tyme "recreation, ...
4
votes
3answers
960 views

Pluralization of proper nouns: regular or irregular? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Family name pluralization If a proper noun is a homograph of a common noun, is the proper noun subject to the same usage and form rules as the common noun, especially if ...
1
vote
3answers
157 views

Is “webdesigner” a word?

I am a uh, designer of websites, and I would like to use the phrase for my profession correctly. Unfortunately, webdesigner is flagged by Google Chrome's spellchecker as a misspelling, and web ...
13
votes
5answers
1k views

Why is “wavelength” one word when “wave height” isn't?

Why is “wavelength” one word when “wave height” isn't? As another example, wave speed is two words. But wavelength is only one word. What is the reason for this? In Swedish and other contructs, ...
1
vote
3answers
87 views

LOL: Spelling double l or single l for 'lolled, lolling' vs 'loled, loling' [closed]

The word 'lol' (lower case) is now sometimes used in the English language. Should we spell its past tense as 'lolled' or 'loled'? And should it be 'lolling' or 'loling'?
8
votes
4answers
17k views

Why does English spelling use silent letters?

Why have a letter in a word when it’s silent in pronunciation, like the b in debt? Can anyone please clarify my uncertainty here?
5
votes
2answers
2k views

Alphabetizing List of Mixed Words and Acronyms

I am creating a glossary that includes both acronyms and multi-word definitions, and I'm wondering if there is a standard/most-appropriate way to sort them. I have tried to search for ...
-2
votes
2answers
4k views

What is the correct British / Irish English spelling of Yoghurt? [closed]

Is it youghurt, yoghurt, or yogurt? Is there a correct spelling, or are they all correct?
5
votes
3answers
247 views

Is “ O’Leary’s’s ” orthographically correct? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Possessive of a word that's already possessive? There’s a bar near me named O’Leary’s Irish Pub—or just O’Leary’s for short. One day, they changed their menu. I ...
2
votes
4answers
2k views

Is “blah blah blah” the most common spelling?

What is the most common or correct spelling of "blah blah blah"? blah blah blah blah blah bla bla bla bla bla My question stems from when I first wrote it as "bla bla bla" in an English text, ...
5
votes
2answers
733 views

Are heteronyms unique to English and why do they exist?

Heteronyms are words with identical spelling and unique definition and pronunciations. For example, read (I have read that book; I will read that book), close (The door is close; I will close the ...
5
votes
2answers
962 views

Is there any rhyme or reason to when one should double the last consonant when adding -ed or -ing? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: focussed or focused? The double consonant Sometimes, final consonants are doubled when adding -ed or -ing to the end of a verb whose penultimate letter is a vowel. ...
0
votes
1answer
208 views

Is spelling part of Language? [closed]

In response to another question I asked, I was told spelling is not a part of language because it is a part of writing. This statement confuses me. Writing is a form of communication and is ...
62
votes
6answers
3k views

How come 'ou' was reduced to 'o' in the US?

Americans write color and favorite, when others say colour and favourite. How/why did this happen?
0
votes
2answers
208 views

Adding “-ing” to a verb ending with a pronounced “e”

When a verb ends with a "e" that is pronounced, do you get rid of the "e" when you add "-ing"? For example, would you say "His karaoking last night was really unique", or "His karaokeing last night ...
4
votes
0answers
67 views

Why do you write “receive” with “ei” but “retrieve” with “ie”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Why is it true that “I before E, except after C”? Both words are similar in pronunciation but different in spelling. Why is it that receive is written with ei but ...
4
votes
4answers
9k views

Is it “dent” or “dint”?

It seems both dent and dint can mean an impression or hollow in a surface. Is there a reason for the two spellings? Do they have different connotations?