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)

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 ...
1
vote
1answer
780 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
53 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 ...
16
votes
4answers
30k views

“Real time”, “real-time” or “realtime”

Which of real time, real-time and realtime is correct when you are talking about seeing something as it happens?
0
votes
2answers
86 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
198 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 ...
30
votes
4answers
7k views

How and when did American spelling supersede British spelling in the US?

Considering that Webster published his first dictionary in 1806, is there a recognised tipping point (year, decade, etc.) that marked the move from traditional British spelling to Webster's American? ...
2
votes
1answer
673 views

Capitalization and hyphenation for prefixed adjectives derived from proper names in mathematics

In mathematics, it often occurs that the last names of famous mathematicians are used as adjectives with mathematical meaning. Most of these adjectives are written with a capital letter. Then, ...
11
votes
3answers
997 views

Where did the practice of using apostrophes for possessive nouns but not pronouns originate?

Where did the practice of using apostrophes for possessive nouns but not pronouns originate? For example, possessive nouns (both proper and common) are written with a apostrophe before the final s: ...
25
votes
4answers
56k views

Why is the word 'bologna' pronounced like 'baloney'?

Why is the word 'bologna' (as in a bologna sandwich) pronounced so differently from the way it's spelled? The word 'lasagna' isn't pronounced 'lasagney'... The American sausage is derived from a ...
1
vote
1answer
68 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
1k 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
620 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 ...
0
votes
2answers
127 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
86 views

Is there a name for the Mc or O' when used at the beginning of a surname?

My daughters asked me what the Mc, Mac, and O' beginnings of names are called. Is there a specific name for that specific part of a surname?
1
vote
2answers
204 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
0
votes
4answers
1k views

Use “underway” or “under way” as an adverb?

Is it proper to use underway as an adverb? Or should under way be used? Merriam-Webster defines underway as an adjective and under way as an adverb. The Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & ...
10
votes
5answers
35k views

Why does English spelling use silent letters?

Why have a letter in a word when it’s silent in pronunciation, like the b in debt? Can anyone please clarify my uncertainty here?
25
votes
5answers
644 views

Is it Web site or website?

Future Perfect's "Is it Web site or website?" states: Since the World Wide Web is a proper noun, we use initial upper-case letters, as we would with your surname, for example. As for ...
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 ...
0
votes
3answers
376 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 ...
2
votes
4answers
144 views
20
votes
4answers
2k views

Is IOU an abbreviation, an acronym, or an initialism?

IOU stands for I owe you and we pronounce each letter separately. But how do we classify that construction"? abbreviation: a shortened form of a word or phrase acronym: an abbreviation formed from ...
4
votes
2answers
696 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?
0
votes
0answers
104 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 ...
0
votes
2answers
665 views

Reform of English writing? [closed]

As is commonly known, English is quite notorious for having a writing system that is far removed from the actual way it is most commonly pronounced. I understand that there are important historical ...
2
votes
1answer
120 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: ...
22
votes
3answers
6k views

When to drop the 'e' when ending in -able?

I've seen a thread that generally asks about Creating words with “-able” suffix But I don't think it answers my point, though they are admittedly dangerously close topics. When do you drop the 'e' ...
1
vote
1answer
174 views

Propagatable vs propagable?

propagatable vs propagable Which one is correct? I've seen both in usage.
1
vote
1answer
80 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
244 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
votes
4answers
8k views

Which is correct: “expose” or “exposé”?

What is the preferred way to write words such as exposé in English? My Firefox spellchecker even tells me that exposé is incorrect and suggests expose. If exposé is correct, then how does this sit ...
5
votes
1answer
744 views

What is to be made of “e” ending so many Middle English words?

I was recently reading about the life of Robert I (the Bruce) of Scotland. On his deathbed, since he had been unable to go on crusade to the Holy Land as he had once pledged to do, he directed that ...
5
votes
3answers
12k views

Which is correct, “on-line” or “online”?

I am still seeing uses of on-line, though I think it is incorrect. For example: A web browser enables a user to go on-line/online. Can you tell me which is the more appropriate to use, on-line ...
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 ...
2
votes
1answer
119 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
44 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
6k views

Does the abbreviation for Saint in a church name require a period?

In referring to a local church, does the name "St Giles" require a period after the "St"? I was told that to add a period confuses it with the abbreviation for street.
-4
votes
1answer
62 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 ...
18
votes
6answers
81k views

“Spelt” vs. “spelled”

In the following sentence, should I say spelled or spelt: You spelt/spelled "Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis" wrong.
3
votes
1answer
97 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
11k views

Is “swop” an acceptable variant of “swap”?

I've always spelt it with an "a". But my friend insists on spelling it with an "o". Is this an acceptable variant?
19
votes
2answers
3k views

Was the “Ye Olde Shoppe” ever used or is it just an ancient-looking construct of modern times?

Surely, if I were the owner of a shop selling archery goods and wanted to portray my shop as some kind of old-fashioned, high-quality traditional outlet, I might be tempted to call it “Ye Olde Archery ...
0
votes
2answers
235 views

Into vs In to, which do I use in this sentence?

I'm writing an op-ed with this sentence: "It was initially – in my mind – a list of people you could ask about whoever it is you’re looking into." According to my understanding of this link ...
1
vote
0answers
153 views

Spelling etymology of “-il[l]” words

I've noticed that modern English seems to have a very strong bias to spell verbs which end with "-(consonant)-il" with double "l", i.e. "-ill". The overwhelming majority of such verbs (like to will, ...
1
vote
3answers
2k views

How do you write the expression of disgust that sounds like “er”?

My daughter said to me this morning (the context is irrelevant): Er, it's all wet! The interjection I have written here as Er was synonymous with Yuck. Its wetness did not cause great happiness. ...
21
votes
4answers
15k views

“Todo list” or “to-do list”

I always thought it was a todo list, and quite a few places online refer to it as todo, but various spell checkers are telling me it should be to-do. The only meaning I could find was ...
0
votes
1answer
97 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, ...
12
votes
5answers
9k views

Is “criterions” a valid plural for “criterion”?

Is criterions a valid plural for criterion? Dictionary.com says it is, but Oxford does not confirm or reject it.