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

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1
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3answers
326 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.
0
votes
1answer
104 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
190 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
706 views

3D vs 3d vs 3-d vs 3-dimensional

How do you correctly abbreviate that something is in "three dimensions" in formal writing? As per the title, would you write either "3D", "3d", or "3-d"? I want to write something like: The ...
1
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1answer
48 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
150 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
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2answers
158 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 ...
1
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2answers
6k 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
112 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." ...
1
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2answers
95 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
120 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
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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
354 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
105 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 ...
0
votes
3answers
83 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
115 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?
-2
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1answer
622 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
75 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. ...
0
votes
2answers
10k 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
762 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.
1
vote
1answer
1k views

“Thingy” or “thingie”?

I heard "thingy/thingie" very often to refer to "a something". However, I observe it written either way and I don't know what is the correct form. Dictionary.com redirects "thingie" to "thingy", ...
10
votes
2answers
1k views

Why are there two Rs in “arrhythmic”?

It seems to me combining "a-"and "rhythmic" would intuitively be spelled "arhythmic". Is there a rule or some other practical reason that it's spelled arrhythmic?
2
votes
1answer
55 views

Spelling etymology of “czar” [duplicate]

Russian emperors are usually referred to as "Tsars" or "Czars". However, while the first spelling (Tsar) utilises the standard English transliteration of the Cyrillic ц as ts, the second ...
1
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4answers
324 views

What's the name for when a word changes its pronunciation because of how people read?

With greater literacy in the past 100 years, most English speakers are also proficient at writing. Sometimes due to the great divide between English spellings and the true pronunciation, people will ...
0
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2answers
253 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 ...
0
votes
2answers
89 views

How was English orthography reformed?

I understand that English speakers have dictionaries, manuals of style, and grammar books at their disposal to know how to write correctly, but is there the most basic book of rules on which all ...
4
votes
2answers
292 views

Word/term meaning “conversion from one dialect to another”?

Is there a word in linguistics that means conversion from one dialect to another dialect? In most sources in which I've looked¹, the word "translation" only means conversion of one language to ...
1
vote
1answer
96 views

Which word is most correct in this case: re-settle or resettle?

In reference to the word settle as it pertains to the specific definition: Determine; decide on: There is some debate internally on whether to use the word resettle which only has one ...
0
votes
2answers
3k views

Capitalization of “A” in “Dear All” [duplicate]

At my work place, whenever an e-mail is sent to more then one person, it starts with "Dear All" or "Dear all". Should the letter "A" be capitalized in "All" as it is not a proper noun? Would it be ...
1
vote
2answers
1k views

Whereafter or where after, one or two words?

If I Google the word whereafter, multiple online dictionaries claim it is one word. However, if I type it in Microsoft Outlook, then spellcheck insists that it is two words. Grammarly seems to accept ...
4
votes
2answers
166 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 ...
0
votes
2answers
154 views

Is there a term for a word created by adding a letter to an existing word? [closed]

It's possible to generate English words by adding letters to existing words—for instance: last > blast utility > futility Is there a term for this, i.e. when a word is created by adding a letter ...
1
vote
2answers
215 views

Should I write 'or' or '/'? [closed]

I can't decide. In a formal letter, addressed to somebody I don't know, which one would you go with?... Dear Sir/Madam or Dear Sir or Madam
9
votes
3answers
2k views

Is 'ditzel' a real word?

When I was a Cardiology fellow at UMass Medical Center, there was a technician who would use a certain word to mean "a little". It sounded like /a ditzle/. I never asked her how it was spelled and ...
4
votes
2answers
730 views

Gray or Grey, Which one should I use? [duplicate]

I have seen people using both Gray and Grey but I wonder which one is correct and when to use one?
2
votes
4answers
195 views

What is the plural form of “S.Sgt.”?

Is it "S.Sgt.'s" or "S.Sgts."? Thanks.
0
votes
3answers
541 views

easy-going vs easy going

Which one is correct: Clive never worries. He's really easy-going. OR Clive never worries. He's really easy going. As per my understanding, hyphen comes between compound adjectives if ...
0
votes
0answers
182 views

Where to put the hypen (if any) in “status quo oriented”?

Writing the following sentence, During the negotiation of both regulations, bargaining power was distributed in favour of the status quo oriented states. I wonder where to put a hyphen, if ...
2
votes
1answer
177 views

“Ninehammer” as variant spelling of “ninnyhammer”

I'm reading Neal Stephenson's historical novel Quicksilver, published in 1998 and set around 1700. There are several passages where the characters use the word ninehammer, as in the following: ...
5
votes
1answer
614 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
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1answer
85 views

Can I use two ampersands in my logo?

I am thinking of updating my logo. Would it be wrong to write John Smith Advocate & Notary & Mediator ?
4
votes
3answers
303 views

etymology of “ie” versus “ei” words

I have noticed that certain, seemingly random, words tend to sometimes have "ie" or "ei" in them. For example, the word "Foreign" has an "e", followed by an "i", but the word "friend", has an "i", ...
1
vote
1answer
242 views

Propagatable vs propagable?

propagatable vs propagable Which one is correct? I've seen both in usage.
17
votes
2answers
2k views

How was the letter -u- written in Old English?

I was reading the etymology for 'come (v.)' when I encountered: [...] The substitution of Middle English -o- for Old English -u- before -m-, -n-, or -r- was a scribal habit before minims to avoid ...
1
vote
1answer
45 views

Is it acceptable to break a line without creating a new paragraph?

Let's say I've got two sentences that are sufficiently related that a new paragraph isn't warranted, but disconnected enough that I start considering putting the last one on a new paragraph. Is it OK ...
-4
votes
1answer
67 views

Can anyone believe “Dord” was in the dictionary for 13 years?! Also, it's a mistake [closed]

I once found out that "Dord" was added to the dictionary for 13 years when it was actually meant to be "D or d," which is the abbreviation for density. Did this happen because the dictionary didn't ...
3
votes
1answer
122 views

Thesis: spell out numbers or not?

I'm unsure if I should spell out numbers or not, in this specific case of the thesis: This is the area I'm concerned with and I tried both approaches: Setup 1 is a static setup with seven nodes in ...
2
votes
1answer
127 views

Has “Extraordinary” Ever Been Spelled with an A-O Ligature?

For example, instead of spelling it as extraordinary, you would write it as extrꜵrdinary. This also applies to its derivations, such as instead of extraordinaire, you would write extrꜵrdinaire. I'm ...
7
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3answers
272 views

Spelling etymology of “-il[l]” words

I've noticed that modern English seems to have a very strong bias at the end of verbs towards the spelling "-ill" (i.e. with a double "l") instead of "-(consonant)-il". The overwhelming majority of ...
0
votes
1answer
112 views

Words containing 2 overlapping standalone words [closed]

I'm looking for words that contain at least two other overlapping words. Word category or origin do not matter (in particular, constituent and containing terms may differ in these regards). Of course, ...