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

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1answer
71 views

Cipher vs Cypher - British English vs American English [duplicate]

As an English author but long time resident of America, I recently wrote a historical spy thriller that delved deeply into coded messages. I often caught myself writing cipher and cypher. Although I ...
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1answer
61 views

Is semiannual one or two words? Or both? Or hyphenated?

I've looked on Google and StackExchange for the answer and am having no luck. This HAS to have been answered and asked before now... so I'm sorry in advance if this is a bad question or a repeat.
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1answer
39 views

Is it acceptable to spell fantasy with PH instead of F? [closed]

I know it used to be spelled that way. I'm just wondering if it's still acceptable.
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1answer
851 views

Why `night` with gh?

I am not native speaker. And me very interesting why night writting with gh? Thanks
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4answers
8k views

Pluralization of names

If I were to use the sentence "There are lots of John Smiths" in the world, would that be the correct use for saying that there are a lot of people named John Smith in the world? I don't think there ...
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4answers
19k views

Skyping or Skypeing

How do you spell the word for phoning by Skype? I would like to use the word in a semi-formal way, in a work related email conversation, where I start emails with "Hi". Skyping or Skypeing
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1answer
47 views

Replacing proper noun “-y” suffix to match plural case [duplicate]

For a proper noun, in this case let's say Morty, would one replace the "-y" suffix when using the plural case with "-ies" or keep it as an unaltered "-ys"?
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1answer
81 views

Are there any other words that are spelled with “a” but pronounced with /e/ like many, any?

Are there any other words that are spelled with "a" but pronounced with the standard phoneme /e/ in Received Pronunciation like many, any? Exceptions: derivatives of any (anything, anyone, anytime, ...
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0answers
22 views

Any research data on spelling mistakes in English?

I am developing a "did you mean?" suggestion for my project similar to Google's suggestion. To make the algorithm to work faster, I am looking for a data or any research done on English spelling ...
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1answer
120 views

Why isn't the ‘P’ in psychology pronounced? [duplicate]

Why is the initial letter of some of the words like pneumonia, and psychology not pronounced?
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2answers
17k views

Independance or Independence?

What other words are like "independence" in British English where you replace the 'a' with an 'e'?
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1answer
54 views

“Wherever or Whenever”

Apologies for the title which sounds like the Shakira classic, but would you say "Thank you for providing help whenever possible" or "wherever possible"
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3answers
6k views

Why is “busy” pronounced “bizzy”?

Of all the ways I could come up with to pronounce the word "busy", "bizzy" would be very low on my list. At least "bussy" or "boosy". Why "bizzy"?
6
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3answers
435 views

Is it acceptable that I use ligatures and diæreses?

As we may all know, ligatures and diæreses have long become obsolescent. However, I see the logic behind spelling words with ligatures and diæreses. For example: algæ, formulæ, æon, æqulateral, ...
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2answers
119 views

Which spelling is correct: “Re-order” or “Reorder”

I'm looking to label an action button that would allow a user in a software interface to enable reordering (sorting, not re-purchasing) of items in a list. Re-order vs. Reorder When first presented ...
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3answers
26k views

“Ph” for the /f/ sound; Is Old English responsible for this swap?

Is Old English responsible for creating the /f/ sound from ph, as in Philip, Pharoah, Physics, Sophia, etc? Many European countries keep the f for all of their /f/-sounding letters, as in Sofia and ...
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0answers
37 views

Product description (text) in English, need some help [closed]

I have a product to launch, I've written a short description of about 600 words, I need some help to improve content quality, you know guys I am not very English :p I would like to make it more ...
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2answers
4k views

Any website to look up words with similar pronunciation or spelling?

Is there any website(s) to look up words with similar pronunciation or spelling? For example: stack, steak, stake, stick. (It can help me as a non-native English speaker to learn confusing words.)
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2answers
43 views

Indicating year when writing currency

Is there a convention for indicating the year of a monetary amount? Because of inflation citing a monetary sum is rather useless without specifying the year: $20 in 1900 is very different than $20 in ...
6
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2answers
89 views

Any idea about this 'ul' glyph from 1580's book on orthography?

Second row, all the way to the right. Does this glyph have a name? I am unfamiliar with it and had never come across it before. Page 21 in Bullokars Booke at large, for the amendment of orthographie ...
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4answers
5k views

Should I use a hyphen in the term “in(-)situ visualization”?

The term in(-)situ visualization denotes a visualization or graphics that is depicted in place, for instance, a sparkline that is embedded into text. As the dictionaries tell, the adjective or adverb ...
3
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2answers
7k views

siphon vs. syphon - any reason to prefer one over the other?

I've come across two spellings for this word. Siphon and syphon are apparently both correct. English is not my first language and this word is not used often in practice, especially in written form. I ...
0
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1answer
17 views

Hyphenation in pre[-]determined

Pre-determined or predetermined? I've seen both forms. Are both right, or only one of them? Is there any dialect difference between AE and BE? Do the same rules apply for all words starting with pre ...
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2answers
764 views

Confusion over the general rules governing the use of the hyphen in English [duplicate]

I often get confused by the rules for using hyphens. According to this entry from the Oxford Dictionaries web site, I must always use a hyphen in these cases: Hyphens are used in many compound ...
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2answers
351 views

Best ways to write thoughts in narrative [closed]

I would normally put a thought in a narrative in quotation marks, but it becomes boring and stilted to continually write, thought Mary, or thought John. A thought normally would have a different ...
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4answers
10k views

Differentiating between “written” and “writing” [closed]

For some reason it is written and writing. It's confusing to me. How can I remember to write them differently?
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2answers
24k views

Use of “f ” instead of “s” in historic, printed English documents

I was at a museum in London yesterday, and one of the items on exhibit is a document from the eighteenth century. It uses the letter f a lot where s should be used—for example, in Majefty. Did the ...
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3answers
45 views

Plural of The Letter S

In a previous question here What is the proper way to write the plural of a single letter? (another apostrophe question) someone asked what the plural of a letter is. The answer given was for ...
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1answer
30 views

Spelling of numbers and particle “and”

I know that in order to spell a number you have to insert an "and" between the hundred and units. For instance 301 will be "three hundred and one". But what about larger numbers? 1,301 is "one ...
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0answers
22 views

When do you link composite words with dashes? (compounds)

In German (my mother tongue) it is very common to combine several nouns into a new word by linking them together with dashes. After a word has been established in German, you even see it getting ...
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3answers
1k views

Why is “build” spelt with a “u”?

I was just looking at build on Wiktionary and I noticed that in Middle English the word was bilden. Where did the u come from? I can understand why words such as guide have a u; it's to make the g "...
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1answer
72 views

What do you call the phenomenon where you suddenly feel that a word's spelling is wrong?

First of all, does this actually happen to others? Hopefully it does. In my case at least, the most commonplace words suddenly seem to be spelled wrong. The most common examples are why, while, ...
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1answer
67 views

Why are there silent letters? [duplicate]

Why do we put letters in some words which are silent in pronunciation? If they make no sound then why we waste space in words? For example: "Knife"; 'K' is silent "Doubt"; 'b' is silent etc.
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1answer
2k views

Graphotactics of possessive: the true reason for the apostrophe

I have some hypotheses for English graphotactics: 〈w〉 and 〈y〉 are optional positional variants (i.e. allographs) of 〈u〉 and 〈i〉, respectively, in digraphs that correspond with diphthongs or vowels: 〈...
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2answers
129 views

Other special hyphenation examples than eight-teen

According to The TeXbook [Don Knuth, 1984], solution to Exercise 14.8, the word eighteen should be hyphenated eight-teen. It is, indeed, standard practice in pre-reform German to contract triple ...
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0answers
47 views
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1answer
164 views

Proper spelling of variant of “suspicious”

I'm not sure if it's an Aussie thing, but if something is suspicious, then it's sus(s), e.g: Someone added me on Facebook but they don't have a profile picture. I think they're a bit sus(s). The ...
2
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2answers
136 views

What is the origin of the word “What”?

Where does the word what come from? Why do we say wot when it's spelt the way it is?
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1answer
48 views

“Neandertal”? Have English-speaking scientists now adopted the modern spelling?

In the 19th century the name of the valley in Germany was spelled "Neanderthal", and now it seems to be "Neandertal", with exactly the same pronunciation. But as far as I knew before tonight, the ...
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2answers
8k views

Why is the plural of “basis” “bases” and not “baseis”?

Looking at the noun basis on Wiktionary.com, it indicates that the plural is either bases or baseis. It looks like the rare baseis comes from the Greek, but the common bases just refers back to basis ...
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2answers
2k 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 ...
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2answers
4k views

“Leader board” vs. “leaderboard”

Is there a preferred spelling for the word "leaderboard"? Should it be one word or two? It would seem that both are correct, but is either preferred?
0
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2answers
31 views

How to spell correctly: “neutral-stability curve” or “neutral stability curve”? [closed]

I have a question regarding spelling the following phrase: "neutral stability curve" in the meaning of "curve of neutral stability". Should I put a hyphen between "neutral" and "stability" or not? Is ...
2
votes
1answer
111 views

Why is “number” abbreviated as “No.”? [duplicate]

The spelling of number is number, but the abbreviation is No (№). There is no letter o in number, so where does this spelling come from?
24
votes
2answers
26k views

“noone”, “no one” or “no-one”?

What is the correct form? Does context play a role? Are there noticeable trends towards the awkward "noone" or is it just a by-product of careless orthography on the Internet?
0
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2answers
35 views

Communism/communism and Communist/communist [duplicate]

I have some doubts regarding capitalizing or not the following words: Communism Communist I know that Communism is generally written with capital letter, but sometimes I have this doubt and cannot ...
1
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1answer
76 views

Word for a word that changes spelling but not meaning?

What is the word that describes a word that has changed in spelling but not meaning, such as how the word "to-day" was once spelt "today"?
3
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4answers
14k views

“Fermentor” vs. “fermenter”

I am curious to know the correct usage of these words as it seems to be misused often. See http://meta.homebrew.stackexchange.com/q/202/59 for a related question.
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2answers
2k views

Do Americans also typically use the word “aesthetic” spelled that way?

As far as I know, the word "aesthetic" can be considered the "British" or "European" way of spelling the word, like "caesium" or "haemophilia". The spelling "esthetic" (which replaces the ae with e as ...
75
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8answers
108k views

Plurals of acronyms, letters, numbers — use an apostrophe or not?

When I was in high school back in the 1970s, I was taught that to make a plural of an acronym, a letter, or a number, one should add an apostrophe and "s". Like I would have written this sentence, "......