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

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

4
votes
2answers
18k views

“Theater” vs. “Theatre” in American English

Why is it that "theater" and "theatre" do not follow the traditional rules of British and American spelling? British spellings like "metre" and "centre" are consistently switched to "meter" and ...
24
votes
3answers
2k views

Possessive of a word that is already possessive

If the cricket ground Lord's is a possessive, what if you want to describe something belonging to Lord's? Would you say: I was very impressed by Lord's's customer services. It doesn't look ...
24
votes
4answers
156k views

Difference between “publicly” and “publically”

I know publically appears as an incorrect spelling in most dictionaries (in fact as I type this up on my Safari browser it keeps trying to correct the spelling to publicly). However I have seen the ...
4
votes
2answers
144 views

What is the significance of having a silent letter like “k” in a word? [duplicate]

Why is the k silent in: known /nəʊn/; knife /nʌɪf/, and knight /nʌɪt/? What does this specify?And what is k doing there if there is no need to pronounce it?
12
votes
2answers
420 views

Silent “e” at the end of words

Back in 2009, a job interviewer sent me a link to a web service that would help me make a free telephone call via the internet... Skype. As a native speaker, I knew "instinctively" to pronounce this ...
89
votes
1answer
338k views

What's the difference between “requester” and “requestor”?

Both are in dictionaries. I've heard people insist "requester" is correct for a person who requests something, and that "requestor" is wrong there, leaving me to wonder how it is used. Requestor ...
0
votes
1answer
81 views

Why is “collaborate” not spelled “collabourate” in British English?

Everyone knows that labour in British English is labor in American English. However, a cursory examination of a dictionary shows the words collabourate and collabourator, derived from the mentioned ...
6
votes
2answers
287 views

Are you googlable?

The search engine Google was launched in 1998 and on that same year, the term googling was first used. The verb “to google” earned its official status in the Oxford English Dictionary on June 15, ...
16
votes
4answers
1k views

What was going on with “quha”, “quhat” and the like in Scots and English?

From the Dictionar o the Scots Leid: Quha, Quhay, interrog. and rel. pron. Also: qwha, qha, qua, qwa, wha, vha, hua; qhaa; quhaw; quhai qwhay, whay, quay; quhae, whae; quhe, quhey, qwhey. ...
0
votes
1answer
77 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
288 views

To “Macgyver” or to “macgyver”?

I recently came across this usage “we Macgyver…” and the use of the upper case caught my attention. I googled the word to see if it is mentioned in the dictionary; Wiktionary gave me this result, ...
0
votes
2answers
236 views

What is the plural for timeout?

In basketball, football, hockey, and many other sport the teams get a set number of timeouts. I was watching a summer league NBA game and there were some stat nerds talking and one referenced that ...
4
votes
4answers
17k 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
6
votes
2answers
7k views

Participle of “center/centre” in UK English — “centring”? Seriously? [closed]

As an American, I was never shocked to see the word "center" spelled as "centre." It didn't bother me at all. Honestly. But then I saw the participle of it spelled as "centring" as opposed to ...
5
votes
5answers
709 views

Why does English omit diacritics on foreign names?

Why does English omit diacritics from foreign names that still use the Latin alphabet? For example, why are the Czech tennis player Tomáš Berdych, the Norwegian crime writer Jo Nesbø, or the Polish ...
4
votes
1answer
88 views

Is 'phone wrong?

I have seen phone spelled as 'phone. Obviously this is an acknowledgement that the full word used to be telephone. Is this spelling objectionable?
4
votes
0answers
51 views

Why does quizzes have two zs [duplicate]

I didn't think I had to add an extra z when making it plural, but I did. Why is that? Just some weird anomaly like so many things in English spelling? Or is there a history behind it?
15
votes
2answers
19k views

Why is the “a” in “cocoa” silent?

Not being a native speaker of English, one of those words that tripped me up is “cocoa”. Besides having its vowels inverted from “cacao”; it also is pronounced exactly the same as “coco”, whereas ...
15
votes
1answer
912 views

Why is “fridge” spelt with a 'd' but “refrigeration” spelt without one?

The question is in the title, why does the word, refrigeration not have a 'd' in it when fridge does?
64
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?
28
votes
4answers
8k views

Plural of an initialism that ends with the letter S [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What is the correct way to pluralize an acronym? I was answering something on Super User and wrote OSes as part of my normal flow without really thinking about it. On a ...
136
votes
3answers
5k views

Where were “should”, “shall”, and “must” in the 18th Century?

According to the following Google Ngram, in the U.K. the modals should, shall, and must were virtually missing from English writing during the 18th Century (I've added will for a comparison modal ...
17
votes
3answers
3k views

Wer, wie, was, wieso, weshalb, warum, all start with W in German. In English they don't, why?

Wer, wie, was, wieso, weshalb, warum. Wer nicht fragt bleibt dumm. This is the theme song to the German Sesame Street, IIRC It roughly translates to: Who, how, what, why, why ,why. If you ...
2
votes
3answers
123 views

Demonyms - When a place ends on an “s” sound, why are its inhabitants sometimes spelled with a “t”? (e.g. Mars - Martian)

I am not natively English speaking and I was wondering about this spelling when I saw the title of the movie "The Martian". This pattern also seems to apply to other things ending on an "s" sound, ...
1
vote
2answers
45 views

Usage of the “non” word when describing something which does not belong to a project (or any organizational group)

The dictionary contains many words which start with "non", e.g. non-acceptance or nonacceptance (with a hyphen and without it). I tried to find out if I can build a new word by using the word "non" ...
2
votes
1answer
36 views

Using hyphens: “Mona-Lisa-like” or “Mona Lisa-like”?

Would it be correct to say: The person had a Mona-Lisa-like expression. or The person had a Mona Lisa-like expression. It strikes me that the former is correct, but I wanted to be sure.
0
votes
4answers
6k views

Recordkeeping, record keeping, or record-keeping

In the following sentence, a reviewer claimed that record keeping is a spelling error that should be corrected to recordkeeping. Service providers shall manage information using agreed upon ...
2
votes
1answer
33 views

Holiday card help

Say my last name is soloniewicz. Is it: Happy holidays from the Soloniewicz's Happy holidays from the Soloniewiczs Happy holidays from the Soloniewiczes I'm leaning towards the number three, but ...
0
votes
4answers
62 views

slang-ism vs slangism vs slang [closed]

I came across the following sentence here in this community: It is a slangism for "optimal" or "tuned". I was about to edit it to the following: It is slang for "optimal" or "tuned". I ...
2
votes
2answers
103 views

Correct use of hyphenation with multi-word noun and adjective [duplicate]

I am not a native English speaker and was wondering how to properly combine the noun "password policy" and the adjective "based". So for "policy", I would write "policy-based", but how about ...
2
votes
2answers
68 views

Which is more correct: T-shirt or t-shirt?

Can we use small letter, while writing: T-shirt? What is correct and why: T-shirt or t-shirt? Thank you.
50
votes
2answers
8k views

Why is “q” followed by a “u”?

Is there a particular rule that states that q should always be followed by a u? Because in certain cases like Qatar, or qawwali, this so-called rule is violated. What do you folks say?
1
vote
2answers
59 views

“look-up tables”, “look up tables” or “lookup tables”

Do you have any advice which version of "look-up tables" vs. "look up tables" vs. "lookup tables" I should be prefer (in a scientific context)? ...which leads me to a [follow-up/followup/follow ...
6
votes
3answers
24k 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
567 views

Thrown by 'broncho.' Or is it 'bronco'? Or 'bronc'?

Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, first edition (1908) has this entry for broncho: Broncho (brŏn´kō), n. {Sp. bronco rough, wild.} A native or a Mexican horse of small size. {Western U.S.} Four ...
1
vote
0answers
76 views

About how many words of four letters are there in English?

I was trying to determine about how many words there are in English, with four letters. (Ideally, excluding "s" plural, so cats and dogs would not be included.) Does anyone have any concrete ...
17
votes
4answers
45k views

“Programming” versus “programing”: which is preferred?

I was surprised that my spell checker did not complain for programing with one m, so I Googled it, and found on free dictionaries that both forms were acceptable. Which one is more common? Does it ...
5
votes
2answers
254 views

Strong /strɔːŋ/ → stronger /strɔːŋɡər/ - Why do we have to put an extra /g/ in front of /ər/? Is it a rule?

Ok, see this in the dictionary: Strong /strɔːŋ/ --> Stronger /strɔːŋɡər/ Why do we have to put an extra /g/ in front of /ər/? But "/sing" /sɪŋ/ & "/singer" /ˈsɪŋər/ do not adhere to that rule. ...
5
votes
3answers
5k views

Do any people distinguish between “analog” and “analogue”?

In my personal usage, the words "analog" and "analogue" are allocated to two different meanings of the word. One refers specifically to non-digital signals, for example: The analog clock reads ...
19
votes
5answers
4k views

Why did they spell it “URL’s”?

I was reading this documentation file of some software and note the plural spelling of this abbreviation is “URL’s”. Why isn’t it “URLs”?
3
votes
4answers
7k views

Why are 'blueish' and 'bluish' both considered correct spellings?

My nine year old son fought hard on this and is taking a stand on spelling bluish as blueish. I'm certain his teacher will mark it as a spelling error in his writing... Several dictionaries have ...
1
vote
1answer
99 views

Difference of hotspot versus hot spot

hot spot -vs- hotspot What's the difference between these two variants? When do I use them? An example sentence is as follows: "Biochar addition is becoming one of the hotspots in soil science." ...
0
votes
2answers
55 views

Word for letters that aren't typographically similar

For example I, 1, or l (lowercase L) can be indistinguishable from one another depending on the persons writing style. The same for the number 0 and the letter O. Is there a word for letters that are ...
0
votes
2answers
19 views

dictations, improving spelling [closed]

I'm looking for a website that would propose free dictations in English, so that I could listen and then type what I hear and at the end to see if I made any mistakes. I was searching in the Internet, ...
22
votes
1answer
2k views

Why are nouns corresponding to verbs ending with “oke” written with “c”?

I was wondering about this for a while now. Could anyone explain this phenomenon or is it just "English quirks"? Examples: invoke/invocation provoke/provocation revoke/revocation
0
votes
0answers
107 views

Why doesn't Buckingham Palace require an article? [duplicate]

There's a whole bunch of them that look as if they would require one, but actually don't: Times Square, Trafalgar Square, Union Square, Carnegie Hall, Central Park, Hyde Park, Westminster Abbey, ...
41
votes
4answers
6k views

Why is ‘i’ in milk pronounced differently from ‘i’ in find?

As far as I know, in words of the structure CVCC, the vowel is usually short. Examples include milk, front, clamp, wasp, sport, etc. However, with some CC types, the vowel seems to always be long ...
0
votes
1answer
33 views

Should I capititalize “Crime Science”? [duplicate]

Not sure if I should use crime science or Crime Science throughout my essay. When should I capitalize the term?
3
votes
1answer
85 views

touchscreen, touch-screen, touch screen? Merriam-Webster and Oxford disagree

I have searched but cannot find a definite answer on the correct to write "touch screen". Merriam-Webster says touch screen. Oxford says touchscreen. And random people around the internet say ...
5
votes
6answers
2k views

How to write Vietnamese names in English correctly? (“Việt Nam” to “Vietnam” or “Viet Nam”?)

Commonly, in writing, the country name in Vietnamese is Việt Nam, in English is Vietnam; its capital city name in Vietnamese is Hà Nội, in English is Hanoi; its largest city name in Vietnamese is ...