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

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4
votes
1answer
294 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
283 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 "...
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
751 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
89 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
20k 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
1k 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
4k 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 re-...
142
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 don'...
2
votes
3answers
128 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
48 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
7k 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
63 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
116 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
73 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
9k 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
85 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
695 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
78 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
51k 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
342 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 5:...
19
votes
5answers
5k 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
123 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
56 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, ...
0
votes
1answer
34 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
165 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 "touch-...
5
votes
6answers
3k 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
930 views

Is 'compatriate' really an English word?

I recently saw the word 'compatriate' used in a newspaper article. Upon looking it up, suspecting a typo (or even an eggcorn: it is easy to see how compatriot would be mixed-up with expatriate etc.), ...
0
votes
1answer
2k views

Should the English word for noodles be ''lamen'' or ''ramen''? [closed]

The Chinese word for noodles is lamen, or la-mien, and the Japanese also call it lamen, using their hiragana/katana syllaby. So the word is spoken with the L sound in both China and Japan (Taiwan, too)...
0
votes
0answers
58 views

Use of ligatures such as æ and œ in English [duplicate]

As part of learning the language, I've noticed that ligatures such as æ and œ are no longer common in English. The ligatures are said to be primarily eschewed in favour of the digraphs ae or oe (...
4
votes
1answer
88 views

Why no 'b' in numeric etc

"Number" vs. "Numeric" Also "Enumerate" etc. If I were to guess, I might go for it relating to "Numeral", but I don't see why it should derive from the less common word, nor why Numeral has no b ...
24
votes
5answers
47k views

Correct, clear, concise way to use “potato-potato” in writing

"You say tomato, I say tomato" and the song from the beginning. As an informal turn of speech, it can be used to show that two or more parties are talking about basically the same thing but not in ...
0
votes
2answers
69 views

How should NA be written? [closed]

To my understanding it's an acronym for "Not Applicable", but I've noticed it written the following ways: na NA n/a ~na~ Is there a standard? What do different style guides say? ...
1
vote
1answer
162 views

“long” <i> - inconsistencies in the relationship between orthography and pronunciation

I'm wondering about the dual pronunciations of the letter /i/ in open syllables. Usually it has the realization [a͡ɪ], representing the regular outcome of long i after the great vowel shift, but ...
1
vote
1answer
71 views

Can we say that the words whose spelling is much contrary to the spelling rules get gradually expelled from English?

Can it be said that the words which are spelled too weird get gradually eliminated from English or their spelling changes to more phonetic? For instance I was thinking about the word "through" which ...
10
votes
2answers
19k views

Why is it spelled “curiosity” instead of “curiousity?”

I have been spelling the word "curiosity" with a u, "curiousity," my whole life, and only today was Chrome's spellcheck bold enough to highlight my lifelong error. I have two questions: The root ...
3
votes
1answer
110 views

Is there a word for misusing or adding letters to words/names?

Some people add or change letters that aren't in a word or name, i.e., "Simonese" cat instead of "Siamese" cat, and French "provinincial" furniture instead of French "provincial" furniture. Also ...
15
votes
3answers
1k views

Why does “attach” have two Ts but “detach” only one?

The title says it all. We have two words: attach detach Shouldn't they be ...? attach dettach Or …? atach detach
10
votes
2answers
8k views

“Draught” or “draft”

I'm referring to the term used to describe the vertical distance between a ship's keel and the waterline. Which is the correct spelling: draught or draft? If either is correct, under which conditions ...
11
votes
5answers
8k views

Is there a good rule of thumb for plurals of words related to music world ending in “o”?

The following words and their plurals seem to be somewhat inconsistent: combo / combos concerto / concertos grotto / grottos / grottoes (?) hero / heros (?) / heroes potato / potatos (?) / potatoes ...