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

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6
votes
4answers
6k views

Which is the proper spelling: “Adapter” or “adaptor”?

In my current project we are writing a program to convert a newer protocol to an older one. These conversion programs are being referred to as adapters, but the team cannot agree which spelling to ...
1
vote
2answers
213 views

pronunciation rule for grapheme “a” in words like “nefarious,” “variation” and “temporary”

English pronunciation / spelling guides appear to state that the letter/grapheme "a" is pronounced either as the "short a" with IPA symbol /æ/, as in "mat" or the "long a" with IPA symbol /eɪ/, as in ...
1
vote
1answer
114 views

Why did the past tense ending -t change to -ed?

My posts are often questions for further knowledge about reasons for language change. In this extract from 1750, there are three variations on the past tense form. Once again, I am grateful if anyone ...
2
votes
4answers
3k 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 ...
3
votes
4answers
315 views

What's with the apostrophe in the standard spelling of the idiom “how's about”?

A recent question on EL&U asks Is it correct to use "how's" as short for "how does"? I have a series of tangentially related questions about a fairly common (in American ...
34
votes
3answers
9k views

What is the plural form of “zero”?

I tried looking on Google, but there are some fairly contradictory results. I thought I'd ask you guys so we could get an authoritative answer on the subject!
-2
votes
1answer
152 views

Choose the proper variant to complete the sentence:

... misses the kisses, ... kisses the misses. A) An rejected lover, a accepted lover B) An accepted lover, a rejected lover C) A rejected lover, an accepted lover
13
votes
5answers
16k views

“Y'all” or “ya'll”?

I've seen it spelled both ways. Are both correct?
1
vote
1answer
163 views

Why `night` with gh?

I am not native speaker. And me very interesting why night writting with gh? Thanks
3
votes
3answers
1k views

Between '(s)he' & 'he/she' — which is recommended/ preferable?

When talking about or referring to someone who could either be a male or a female, I usually write it as (s)he but I have also seen usage like he/she, which also seems correct to me. I use (s)he ...
18
votes
4answers
42k views

“Spelt” vs. “spelled”

In the following sentence, should I say spelled or spelt: You spelt/spelled "Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis" wrong.
1
vote
2answers
492 views

What is Iridescent with an extra “r?”

Below is quoted from vocabulary.com. ... (The word) Iridescent came to be in 1796, when some enthusiastic word maker took the Latin word iris, which means "rainbow," and morphed it into an English ...
10
votes
3answers
8k views

Is the proper spelling “judgment” or “judgement”?

I always thought the proper spelling was  judgment, but I see  judgement all the time, even in articles, news, etc. Merriam-Webster lists  judgement as a variant spelling for judgment. But is the ...
1
vote
2answers
79 views

Commas with quotes [duplicate]

I read the following sentence1: He rallied the Senate with the plea, “It’s time to change the Senate before this institution becomes obsolete.” I’m wondering whether a comma should be placed ...
-1
votes
1answer
159 views

Why is “success” spelled with double -S?

What is the function of the double s at the end of the word, success?
4
votes
0answers
66 views

Why do you write “receive” with “ei” but “retrieve” with “ie”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Why is it true that “I before E, except after C”? Both words are similar in pronunciation but different in spelling. Why is it that receive is written with ei but ...
3
votes
1answer
146 views

What's the most preferred spelling of auto fill, auto-fill, and autofill?

When you are trying to say that something is automatically filled in, you use the word autofill, or if you were using past tense, autofilled. I see 3 main ways that people use it: auto fill / ...
27
votes
7answers
9k views
1
vote
1answer
53 views

Formatting and ellipses when quoting parts of a list

When quoting a list not in its entirety, but only the points 2–5 of 10, how do I set out the quote? Do I add "..." at the beginning and end of the quote as shown below? ... 2. At all ...
1
vote
3answers
114 views

Was “nowadays” ever spelled with hyphens?

etymonline doesn't note that nowadays ever had a spelling with hyphen but I found a few random sites claiming that it once was hyphenated. Was it ever spelled as "now-a-days"?
0
votes
1answer
82 views

Why is the beginning of a quote in old text sometimes denoted by a capital letter but no quotation marks?

In the following text of Pamela by Samuel Richardson, well is capitalised — possibly to denote speech, where inverted commas have been neglected. As GEdgar points out, this is not an isolated ...
2
votes
5answers
2k views

Where does the phrase “fair do's/dues/doos/does” come from?

I was researching the phrase fair do's, attempting to determine which spelling was most appropriate, and where it had come from. Unfortunately most of the information I could find was very ...
3
votes
2answers
905 views

Why do we say and write “read” instead of “readed” for the past? [closed]

Why do we write read unchanged for present and past, while study changes; we have studied. The present form of read is read, pronounced as "reed". The past form of read is also read but it is ...
0
votes
0answers
48 views

Its/It's for “It”, but not for other words? [duplicate]

Why is there a distinction between "it's" and "its"? You can write "The cat's walking." where "cat's" might ambiguously be either "cat is" or "cat (possessive)", and I don't think anyone considers ...
2
votes
2answers
139 views

Why does the pronunciation of “U” vary in English?

The letter U is pronounced differently in different words such as Umbrella and Utensils, as well as when it is Used inside of words such as stUdent and stUdy. Can I please have a grammatical ...
0
votes
1answer
1k views

He had not understood vs He did not understand [closed]

I'm a native Portuguese speaker and some time ago I heard someone say that it is grammatically wrong, in despite of everyday speaking, to construct sentences like "He had not understood" or "She does ...
14
votes
5answers
4k views

How to spell [ʒʊʒd] and what does it mean?

I heard this strange word in American Dad over a year ago and it's been bugging me ever since. Not only do I have no idea how it's spelt, I have no idea how it could possibly be spelt. My only guesses ...
9
votes
3answers
31k views

What is the longest palindrome word in English? [closed]

I want to know what the longest palindrome word is.
1
vote
0answers
51 views

Why is there 'ss' in pessimistic? [closed]

In the word 'pessimistic',we use 'ss'. but my question is that, as I know, there are syllables as: 'pe',ssi','mis','tic'. Here stress falls in 'mis'syllable then it might be doubled 'mis',not 'pessi'. ...
12
votes
3answers
9k views

Why is the spelling of “pronounce” and “pronunciation” different?

Why is the spelling of pronounce and pronunciation different? If one originally did not know the spelling of pronunciation, one would when hearing it verbally deduce its spelling to be pronounciation, ...
3
votes
3answers
74 views

Is “enroute” an acceptable variant of “en route”?

Is "enroute" (without the space) an acceptable variant of "en route"?
3
votes
0answers
68 views

Why is “birthday” one word as opposed to two? “Wedding day” or “graduation day” are two [duplicate]

A birthday is the day of your birth, much like graduation day and wedding day. Why is birthday one word?
-1
votes
2answers
170 views

Movement to reduce “ing” to “in” [closed]

let's face it. More and more people are not saying the silent "g" at the end of swimming, speaking, cooking etc. When will the "ing" become just "in"? It's already used in almost every song, because ...
0
votes
2answers
149 views

Correct spelling: Magic or Magick? [closed]

Is it Magic; or is it Magick? I think the latter is the correct way, even though the latter version is listed in some dictionaries. Why is that?
1
vote
0answers
227 views

What is the rule for duplicating the last letter when adding “-ed”? [duplicate]

I wonder if there is any rule for doubling the p at the end of a stem. For example: stop — stopped but help — helped
-1
votes
2answers
110 views

Is subaccount one word?

I looked at the Cambridge and Oxford dictionaries online and they don't contain this word. But typing it into google takes me to the Merriam Webster definition. So does this just come down to taste? ...
2
votes
1answer
551 views

The difference between “anyway” and “any way”

When to use anyway and when to use any way? Anyway I can do it. Any way I can do it. Are these the same?
1
vote
2answers
204 views

What does an italic “a” immediately before a year stand for?

Some citations in the OED have an italic a before the year to indicate the year is uncertain, for example: a​1556 N. Udall Ralph Roister Doister (?1566) iii. iv. sig. E.iijv, By gosse and for ...
2
votes
3answers
15k views

Are “eery” and “eerie” equally acceptable spellings?

I used "eery" yesterday in a text and was corrected jokingly by my correspondent to "eerie." Looking at it after the fact, neither 'looks' right to me and both get through auto-correct with no red ...
11
votes
4answers
845 views

What does “randomically” mean?

I've just read an O’Reilly book and encoutered the word randomically. I highly suspect this is a made up word, but a quick google found it in use here, here, and here. Is this some obscure technical ...
5
votes
1answer
11k views

“Inner” but not “outter”?

in -> inner out -> outer / (outter?) What is the history or set of rules behind why 'inner' doubles the 'n' but 'outer' doesn't double the 't'?
5
votes
2answers
970 views

Which is right: “drop-down” or “drop down”?

What is the proper way to write this term when writing product documentation? Hyphenated or not? drop down list or drop-down list?
104
votes
2answers
8k views

Why is “bicycle” pronounced differently from other obviously related words?

The word bicycle is pronounced /'baɪsɪkəl/ (bahy-si-kuhl), like sickle. However, the words unicycle and motorcycle both have the -cycle pronounced as /-'saɪkəl/ (sahy-kuhl). Is there some sort of ...
12
votes
2answers
36k views

“Successfull”/“successful” — is this a UK/US difference?

I would tend to write double-l, but Google gives me more single-l, so I'm guessing it's an Atlantic divide thing. And I guess all the other *full words.
0
votes
2answers
210 views

's' or 'z': 'musealisation' versus 'musealization'

As I understand, the term in itself is not consensual, but is there a preferred spelling for musealisation/ musealization, or is it just the 'usual' question of the British/American spelling?
0
votes
1answer
72 views

Question about a sentence in OWL Exercises

About the Exercise: Adjective or Adverb Exercise 1: #3 They proved to be perfectly exact measurements... Isn't this an impossible fact; consequently a incorrect sentence otherwise what is supposed to ...
4
votes
6answers
10k views

Do I spell out a time in an essay?

When I am writing an essay, do I spell out times? How would I write AM or PM? Example: 11:45 PM How would I write that?
-1
votes
1answer
127 views

Why don’t “snow” and “plow” — well, or “plough” — rhyme? [duplicate]

They (sometimes?) have the same ending when spelt but don’t rhyme when said. Why is that?
7
votes
2answers
213 views

Why doesn't blood sound like \ˈblüd\? [duplicate]

The pronunciation of blood is \'bləd\ while words such as moon and spoon (with double 'o') are pronounced as \ˈmün\ and \ˈspün. Why isn't blood pronounced like \ˈblüd\ ?
1
vote
3answers
407 views

Correct use of hyphens in “we offer same day, on site service calls”

What would be the correct hyphenation (if any) for the following sentence? We offer same day, on site service calls. I was thinking of hyphenating "on-site", but I cannot think why "same day" ...