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)

21
votes
2answers
3k views

Why is it true that “I before E, except after C”?

I almost hesitate to ask this, because it is hard to believe no one else asked it; but it isn't showing up in the "similar titles" list. What is special about 'C' that switches the 'IE' immediately ...
0
votes
1answer
59 views

What is the right way to spell the title “Diana and Tom's Grill” or “Diana's and Tom's Grill”? [duplicate]

I am looking for the most common way how people in US/Canada spell something like this, preferably in accordance with Chicago Manual of Style. What is the right way to spell the title "Diana and Tom's ...
7
votes
5answers
9k views

Is the word “representativity” possible?

I found natural to use the word "representativity" (with regard to a sample population of a survey), but my dictionary does not agree with me. Is "representativity" a valid construction?
11
votes
5answers
6k 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 ...
-3
votes
3answers
273 views

Are the commas right? [duplicate]

The man, who is standing there, is her ex-husband. Are these commas needed? Or is it: The man who is standing there is her ex-husband.
8
votes
3answers
261 views

Do any words have three or more correct spellings? [closed]

I can call to mind several words with another correct spelling (colour, analogue, disc, barbeque) but I can't think of any with multiple correct spellings, i.e. three or more equally acceptable, ...
2
votes
2answers
67 views

Is there any reason so many people abbreviate “etcetera” as “ect.”? [closed]

People do many strange things, such as spell "loose" (the opposite of tight) as "lose" (the opposite of win) - and even vice versa sometimes. Another oddity is when they say "literally" when that is ...
11
votes
5answers
64k views
3
votes
3answers
26k views

What is “Oki-doki” or “Oki-dokie” or “Okay-dokay”

Okay, since now we know what is the origin of OK (I like the Oll Korrect version), I have another question about it's relative: What is an "Oki-doki" or "Oki-dokie" or "Okay-dokay"? What is the ...
47
votes
7answers
17k views

Which is the correct spelling: “grey” or “gray”?

What is the difference? Or is there any? Which would be more British English?
5
votes
4answers
221 views

“Spelling checker” or “spell checker”?

I've always thought a spelling checker is a tool that checks spelling. I know a growing number of people say spell checker, but I've always considered that slang. Recently I did a search for the ...
-1
votes
1answer
60 views

How to correctly write: “In Spite” [closed]

What is the correct way to write: "in spite" ? Some references are now saying "in-spite" is permissible? We do not trust that!
3
votes
4answers
18k views

Why is “hyperbole” pronounced so differently from its spelling?

I've often heard people say "hyperbole" exactly as it is written, "hi-per-bole", instead of how it is actually pronounced: "hi-pear-bow-lee". How did it get such an unusually different pronunciation ...
2
votes
4answers
128 views

Elven or Elfin? [duplicate]

I am writing a fantasy book and am having trouble with when and how to use words such as "Elfin", "Elven", "Elfish", and "Elvish". I don't understand the difference between using a V or an F. Help?
3
votes
1answer
99 views

Non-preemptive? Non-pre-emptive? Emptive?

We can describe something as pre-emptive, no issue there. If something isn't such, how can we write that? Word gives me red squiggles on 'Non-preemptive', but this looks silly with a double ...
0
votes
4answers
90 views

Topup vs top-up

Which noun is correct? a topup a top-up Which verb is correct? to topup to top-up
3
votes
4answers
7k 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.
3
votes
1answer
94 views

Why do many names use “y” in place of expected “i”?

I would expect names like Taylor, Poynting have "i" in place of actual "y", because they sound very similar to words "tailor" and "pointing". There's also Feynman, which some (not really credible ...
3
votes
1answer
106 views

“Cancellation”, “Canceled”, “Canceling” — US usage

I'm trying to figure out if there is a specific rule behind the word "cancel" that would cause "cancellation" to have two L's, but "canceled" and "canceling" to have only one (in the US). I ...
7
votes
3answers
22k views

Is 'useable' preferred in certain regions, or just an alternate spelling of 'usable'?

I rarely use spell checkers, but today when I did use one, it suggested changing the word 'useable' to 'usable' (i.e. to drop the first 'e'). This seemed immediately intuitive and I thought I'd just ...
89
votes
4answers
7k views

Why is “cannot” spelled as one word?

Why is “cannot” spelled as one word whereas other similar constructions such as “do not,” “will not,” “shall not,” “may not” and “must not” are spelled as two words (unless they are contracted as ...
0
votes
2answers
81 views

Space before computer storage abbreviations [closed]

Forgive me if this has already been asked, I could not find it via search. My question is this: what is the proper way to append computer storage abbreviations to a number? For example, a 500 ...
4
votes
2answers
594 views

Where do the idiosyncrasies in the spellings of English words come from and why do they survive?

For example: GH in enough is pronounced "F" O in women is pronounced short "I" TI in nation is pronounced "SH" Why aren't the words spelled enouf, wimen, nashon, or why not spell fish "ghoti"? It ...
6
votes
3answers
506 views

Connotations of Letter 'X'

In the English language, the letter X has a connotation of mystery, intrigue, or excitement. Examples: Planet X: A theoretical planet of mysterious origin, or an unknown planet. [Edit: Bad example, ...
17
votes
4answers
6k views

“Focussed” or “focused”? The double consonant

Initially, my question was: is "focussed" or "focused" the correct past tense of "focus", but since this applies to a lot of words, I would like to generalize and ask: is there supposed to be a rule ...
18
votes
2answers
4k views

Why does the 'b' in absorb change to a 'p' in absorption?

The question pretty much says it all. Why is "absorbtion" an incorrect spelling?
3
votes
1answer
808 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
0
votes
1answer
76 views

Translating from American to Canadian, when these are used as verbs, is it “log in” and “log out” or “login” and “logout”?

This is not a duplicate of questions such as“Login” or “log in”? or “log in to” or “log into” or “login to”. The reason is that this question deals specifically with converting from American English ...
2
votes
1answer
110 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
188 views

“Champing on the bit”

I read recently that was describing a cavalry, full of "horses champing on their bits, eager to rush forwards into the fray." I have always known it as "chomping". Is "champing" a typo? Is "chomping" ...
4
votes
2answers
163 views

New Yorker Dieresis Rule; prosaic, unionized?

There are lots of informal references to the traditional / "New Yorker" style of using diereses to disambiguate runs of vowels, however I have yet to find a definitive guide. See, for example: ...
2
votes
0answers
45 views

What is the correct way to indicate a singular/plural that ends in (ies) [duplicate]

I would like to know what the correct way to indicate a singular/plural pair is when the singular ends in -y and the plural in -ies. With book you can use book(s) to indicate in writing how to form ...
7
votes
4answers
111k views

Which spelling is correct: “benefiting” or “benefitting”?

Which spelling is correct: benefiting or benefitting?
4
votes
3answers
2k views

Can there be a hyphen in “nonlinear”?

As the title says, I'm wondering if "non-linear" is an acceptable spelling of the word "nonlinear." A bit of research on this site turns up Is the use of a hyphen between "non" and an ...
-1
votes
1answer
56 views

Acing or A'cing, and why? [closed]

I see people using the term 'acing' when earning a perfect score on a test. For example: "I aced my math test." or "I'm so acing this test." Are the ways expressed above proper? If so, ...
3
votes
9answers
68k views

“Mold” vs. “Mould”

While writing about a factory that produces pipes, I needed to refer to how the metal was melted and put into molds/moulds. Which one is it, and is there a correct spelling or are both acceptable?
1
vote
2answers
365 views

Geometric or Geometrical?

I have read the excellent answers to Why is it "geometric" but "theoretical" - my question is specifically about usage. Is there a best practice for deciding between the variants "geometric" and ...
1
vote
1answer
37 views

Capitalisation of seasons

I'm not sure how many people share this experience, but I've personally grown up being taught to spell the seasons with a capital heading. ex. Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter. Yet, when I type the ...
0
votes
1answer
37 views

Is to use hyperbole to be hyperbolic? [closed]

eg. 'You've lost us millions of dollars!' Dave screamed. His statement was hyperbolic, the losses were really only $32,954.
6
votes
2answers
189k 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.
9
votes
3answers
8k views

“Practise” vs. “practice”

As an Australian, I like to follow British forms of words such as license/licence and practise/practice. I have no problem with licence the noun and license the verb, but I find it hard to keep ...
1
vote
0answers
24 views

“Traveller” vs. “traveler” [duplicate]

There was a time when traveller's cheques were emitted and sold by the banks in England and by Thomas Cook. However the cheques emitted by American banks/American Express were named traveler's cheque, ...
1
vote
1answer
2k views

Is “pidgeon” a correct alternate spelling of “pigeon”? [closed]

Is "pidgeon" a correct spelling for the grayish fowl scientifically known as Columba livia domestica? Pigeon appears to be the more common spelling, but it looks strange to me. For comparison, words ...
2
votes
1answer
322 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
81 views

How should “makeup” be written in BrEng?

By "makeup", I mean cosmetics, as in lipstick, foundation, eyeliner, etc. My assumption is that it should be written as "makeup", but others have suggested "make up" or "make-up". In case there are ...
-1
votes
1answer
7k views

Apostrophes and s’s [duplicate]

I always forget the rule about if something is possessive put 's at the end, for example "the sailor's hat". I know some people say to remember because it has a different meaning if it's plural (e.g. ...
6
votes
2answers
761 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 ...
8
votes
5answers
16k views

Which is correct, “cill” or “sill”?

When I was an architectural technician, I used the spelling cill (e.g. window cill). I knew of one architect who used sill and stated that this was the older and more correct form. My Concise Oxford ...
10
votes
1answer
9k views

“Philippines” vs. “Filipino”

Why is Filipino spelled with an F? Philippines is spelled with a Ph. Some have said that it's because in Filipino, Philippines starts with F; but if this is so, why did we only change the beginning of ...