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

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2
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1answer
2k 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
65 views

Can we say that the words whose spelling is much contrary to the spelling rules get gradually expelled from English?

Can it be said that the words which are spelled too weird get gradually eliminated from English or their spelling changes to more phonetic? For instance I was thinking about the word "through" which ...
8
votes
2answers
14k views

Why is it spelled “curiosity” instead of “curiousity?”

I have been spelling the word "curiosity" with a u, "curiousity," my whole life, and only today was Chrome's spellcheck bold enough to highlight my lifelong error. I have two questions: The root ...
3
votes
1answer
89 views

Is there a word for misusing or adding letters to words/names?

Some people add or change letters that aren't in a word or name, i.e., "Simonese" cat instead of "Siamese" cat, and French "provinincial" furniture instead of French "provincial" furniture. Also ...
14
votes
3answers
1k views

Why does “attach” have two Ts but “detach” only one?

The title says it all. We have two words: attach detach Shouldn't they be ...? attach dettach Or …? atach detach
0
votes
1answer
48 views

The term for misspellings that change the meaning of a sentence? [duplicate]

I am looking for the term that describes the use of a certain word in a sentence in place of the correct one; a word that happens to look very similar to the one actually needed, but has a different ...
10
votes
2answers
8k views

“Draught” or “draft”

I'm referring to the term used to describe the vertical distance between a ship's keel and the waterline. Which is the correct spelling: draught or draft? If either is correct, under which conditions ...
20
votes
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: ...
2
votes
1answer
6k 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 ...
11
votes
5answers
7k views

Is there a good rule of thumb for plurals of words related to music world ending in “o”?

The following words and their plurals seem to be somewhat inconsistent: combo / combos concerto / concertos grotto / grottos / grottoes (?) hero / heros (?) / heroes potato / potatos (?) / potatoes ...
10
votes
4answers
197k views
3
votes
2answers
145 views

Is afeast or possibly affeast, afeest etc. a word?

My English (vai Liverpool)-Canadian mother used this word to mean 'disgusted by' or 'repulsed by.' Example: "he is afeast of mixed foods." meaning you think mixed foods are disgusting or inedible. I ...
2
votes
2answers
45 views

Word choice conundrum

This was presented to me years ago and I've not gotten what I consider a definitively right answer. I'm looking for the word that would go in the brackets in this sentence: There are three common ...
2
votes
0answers
70 views

Does using abbreviated/vernacular spelling affect reading speed? [closed]

The spelling in an average text message is quite bad ('u'=you, 'r'=are, 'l8r'=later, etc), and intentional abbreviations are often used for space concerns. Has the effect of this on reading speed and ...
-3
votes
1answer
80 views

Are punctuations ignored in movie titles? [closed]

There happen to be many movies which are not punctuated correctly. Since English is not my native language, I don't know whether punctuation usage in movie titles is just like punctuation usage for ...
1
vote
3answers
139 views

Nonsmoking or Non-smoking

Would one write that someone is “a nonsmoking so-and-so” or “a non-smoking so-and-so”? I'm not sure if the hyphen is necessary or superfluous.
5
votes
1answer
97 views

How are computers affecting spelling and usage? [closed]

Has spell check changed usage? I type the word "theatre" often; even here while I am typing it is underlined in red, yet Americans who direct, produce, or act in theatre prefer the older spelling. ...
3
votes
6answers
7k views

Where does 'doofus' (or perhaps 'dufus') come from?

Both Dufus and Doofus seem to be common on the web, so I'm not sure which is the correct spelling, if either. It's kind of a cool word. Do we have any idea where/how it originated?
7
votes
1answer
158 views

'-ible' suffix vs. '-able' suffix

This question comes about because I usually always spell the word incorrectly and the spell checker underlines in red the word: compatible. In my head, I always want to spell it compatable, and my ...
0
votes
1answer
90 views

Origin of “Amurrica”

I can't remember the president or politician who famously pronounced America as "Amurrica". I hope someone else can. As in This is Amurrica. Also, is there a standard, or at least better, way ...
5
votes
3answers
738 views

Alignment or alinement?

I was reading Wonders of World Aviation the other day, published in the late thirties, and have found a couple of articles where alinement is preferred to alignment. While this seems to make sense, it ...
1
vote
1answer
42 views

Capitalization of “the” in “the Bible” [duplicate]

Which of these is correct capitalization? Mrs. Ohana gave me the Bible. Mrs. Ohana gave me The Bible.
3
votes
1answer
108 views

Conventions in Old English for use of thorn and eth

Somewhere I got the naive idea that, in Old English, thorn represented the unvoiced "th" sound and eth represented the voiced "th" sound. A little digging has suggested to me that each of the ...
0
votes
2answers
136 views

Why is sacrilegious not spelled like religious? [closed]

Clearly sacrilegious is not necessarily the opposite of religious but derived from the same root. One could make the argument that sacrilegious is also derived from sacred which would imply a ...
81
votes
9answers
30k views

“Username”, “user name” or “user-name”

In computer science, you should have a username or a user name or a user-name and a password to be able to log into the system. Which one is the correct spelling?
5
votes
3answers
26k views

Is it makeup or make-up or make up?

If you take a makeup test, is it correct to call it a makeup, make up, or make-up test? I know that makeup is also what some people put on their faces to look different. I think that make-up is what ...
4
votes
2answers
154 views

Why is the past tense of “may”, “might”?

Why is the past tense of may, might? When you see other past forms of auxiliary verbs, they usually have -ould, like should, could, and would. Unlike other forms, the past tense of may is might not ...
2
votes
6answers
6k views

“systematize” vs. “systemize”

Merriam-Webster defines "systemize" as an alternate spelling of "systematize." Is there any reason to choose one over the the other (besides "systematize" sounding a little weird to my ears)? I did ...
5
votes
1answer
3k views
1
vote
3answers
834 views

How did “to lie” (i.e lie about something) and “to lie” (i.e. lie down) end up being spelled the same way?

I'm hoping to find out the history of how "to lie" as in say something dishonest and "to lie" as in rest horizontally end up being spelled the same way. To lie (lie, lied, lied): a false statement ...
1
vote
2answers
82 views

How do you spell explicitly my last name (Musiał)? [closed]

I need to know how I can spell my Polish last name, Musiał, for my future interviews. (soon :>) M as Margarita U as ..? S as I as A as Ł as - what about that character? Should i replace it by L, ...
2
votes
1answer
110 views

Is there an equivalent of diaeresis, but for consonants?

I know that diaeresis is used to show that two adjacent vowels are not a diphthong but should be pronounced separately, as in naïve or Zoë. Is there an equivalent mark or format in current ...
1
vote
0answers
36 views

Why are figures 1-9 written as numbers, but after 9 written in alphabet form? [duplicate]

I have tried to research this .. could anyone answer why figures 1-9 are written as digits/numbers and then from 9 onwards they are typed in alphabetical form?
6
votes
2answers
343 views

British English spelling: “gripped” or “gript”?

Hello what is the correct British English spelling of the word 'gripped' or 'gript'? According to Dictionary.com: gript verb 1. a past participle and simple past tense of grip. verb ...
9
votes
1answer
1k views

Is “civillians” correct?

Wikipedia has a lot of occurrences for the word "civillians", such as: At least 35 civillians were killed at the incident I began fixing them to "civilians", but then had a question. Is ...
3
votes
2answers
2k views
4
votes
1answer
84 views

Why don't ligatures have names?

It is common to see ligatures such as Æ or Œ in reference to classical works such as Œdipus or Æsop but these do not seem to have names. Strangely enough in the Old English alphabet there were similar ...
2
votes
2answers
9k views

Should I say “3 half days” or “3 half-days” or “3 half-day”?

Should I say "3 half days" or "3 half-days" or "3 half-day"? I mean I want to refer to, for example, the a.m. of Monday, the p.m. of Wednesday, and the a.m. of Friday, together.
5
votes
2answers
265 views

A single vs a double consonant issue.

According to The Grammarist: till, until and 'til: Till, as a variant of until, is a preposition meaning up to the time of. Till—not ‘til, an unnecessary abbreviation—has been in the language ...
0
votes
3answers
64 views

Plural of “Mechanism of Action”

I'm trying to determine the plural form of the scientific term "Mechanism of Action". I'm pretty sure the answer is, "Mechanisms of Action", but the term "Mechanisms of Actions" is disturbingly ...
-4
votes
1answer
108 views

Can a picture really tell a thousand words? [closed]

I found this on the internet and thought it was interesting: A thousand words Can you really write a thousand words about any picture?
7
votes
3answers
2k views

Is there a rule for “‑ance” vs. “‑ence”?

OK, so I’m ashamed to admit that as a native speaker I think I’ve missed something somewhere. I was typing up some documentation and spellchecker kept bugging me. So I looked up some words and found ...
0
votes
2answers
5k views

“gauging interest” or “gaging interest”? [closed]

Which is the proper spelling? "I am just gaging interest" "I am just gauging interest" Google searching is giving me inconsistent results. Also: If the answer is "gaging", why does the 'u' get ...
2
votes
4answers
334 views

Noun to describe a “typo-filled” letter

I am changing my e-mail signature on my phone to read: Sent from my Samsung Galaxy S4. Please do not mistake my brevity and/or misspellings for apathy and/or ignorance. I am looking for a ...
-2
votes
1answer
440 views

What is “excellense”?

A friend posted on Facebook showing a company (or maybe a school) notice which reads as "committed to excellense". Of course my friend is making fun of it, but I really doubt that there could be a ...
0
votes
4answers
71 views

Are there specific situations where one spelling variant is recommended over another?

I am not a native speaker of English so I get confused when writing since there are sometimes two different spellings of words in English — by which I mean an American spelling and a British spelling. ...
13
votes
6answers
9k views

Why is “liquorice” pronounced (or spelt) so strangely?

Liquorice is pronounced ˈlɪkərɪʃ. But every other word I can think of ending with -ice is pronounced differently (such as police or rice). How did liquorice get such a strange pronunciation, or ...
1
vote
2answers
449 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'?
1
vote
1answer
392 views

Employee vs Employe Which Is More Correct/Common [closed]

It is always interesting when a word has multiple accepted spellings. I'm wondering what people here have to say on this particular word.
18
votes
5answers
3k views

Is the lowercase pronoun “i” a feature of Indian English?

The Rule The personal pronoun “I” is always capitalized in English, regardless of its position in a sentence. This is an orthographic convention that every native speaker should know. Whenever I ...