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

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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 ...
11
votes
4answers
219k views
3
votes
2answers
152 views

Is afeast or possibly affeast, afeest etc. a word?

My English (vai Liverpool)-Canadian mother used this word to mean 'disgusted by' or 'repulsed by.' Example: "he is afeast of mixed foods." meaning you think mixed foods are disgusting or inedible. I ...
2
votes
2answers
47 views

Word choice conundrum

This was presented to me years ago and I've not gotten what I consider a definitively right answer. I'm looking for the word that would go in the brackets in this sentence: There are three common ...
2
votes
0answers
82 views

Does using abbreviated/vernacular spelling affect reading speed? [closed]

The spelling in an average text message is quite bad ('u'=you, 'r'=are, 'l8r'=later, etc), and intentional abbreviations are often used for space concerns. Has the effect of this on reading speed and ...
-3
votes
1answer
87 views

Are punctuations ignored in movie titles? [closed]

There happen to be many movies which are not punctuated correctly. Since English is not my native language, I don't know whether punctuation usage in movie titles is just like punctuation usage for ...
1
vote
3answers
382 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.
5
votes
1answer
111 views

How are computers affecting spelling and usage? [closed]

Has spell check changed usage? I type the word "theatre" often; even here while I am typing it is underlined in red, yet Americans who direct, produce, or act in theatre prefer the older spelling. It'...
3
votes
6answers
8k views

Where does 'doofus' (or perhaps 'dufus') come from?

Both Dufus and Doofus seem to be common on the web, so I'm not sure which is the correct spelling, if either. It's kind of a cool word. Do we have any idea where/how it originated?
8
votes
1answer
209 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
107 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
973 views

Alignment or alinement?

I was reading Wonders of World Aviation the other day, published in the late thirties, and have found a couple of articles where alinement is preferred to alignment. While this seems to make sense, it ...
1
vote
1answer
50 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
162 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
votes
2answers
166 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 ...
88
votes
9answers
37k views

“Username”, “user name” or “user-name”

In computer science, you should have a username or a user name or a user-name and a password to be able to log into the system. Which one is the correct spelling?
6
votes
3answers
43k views

Is it makeup or make-up or make up?

If you take a makeup test, is it correct to call it a makeup, make up, or make-up test? I know that makeup is also what some people put on their faces to look different. I think that make-up is what ...
4
votes
2answers
170 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 ...
2
votes
6answers
7k 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
3k views
1
vote
3answers
905 views

How did “to lie” (i.e lie about something) and “to lie” (i.e. lie down) end up being spelled the same way?

I'm hoping to find out the history of how "to lie" as in say something dishonest and "to lie" as in rest horizontally end up being spelled the same way. To lie (lie, lied, lied): a false statement ...
1
vote
2answers
101 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
126 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
vote
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
357 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 (...
9
votes
1answer
1k views

Is “civillians” correct?

Wikipedia has a lot of occurrences for the word "civillians", such as: At least 35 civillians were killed at the incident I began fixing them to "civilians", but then had a question. Is "...
3
votes
2answers
2k views
4
votes
1answer
109 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
10k views

Should I say “3 half days” or “3 half-days” or “3 half-day”?

Should I say "3 half days" or "3 half-days" or "3 half-day"? I mean I want to refer to, for example, the a.m. of Monday, the p.m. of Wednesday, and the a.m. of Friday, together.
5
votes
2answers
285 views

A single vs a double consonant issue.

According to The Grammarist: till, until and 'til: Till, as a variant of until, is a preposition meaning up to the time of. Till—not ‘til, an unnecessary abbreviation—has been in the language ...
0
votes
3answers
90 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
116 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?
7
votes
3answers
3k views

Is there a rule for “‑ance” vs. “‑ence”?

OK, so I’m ashamed to admit that as a native speaker I think I’ve missed something somewhere. I was typing up some documentation and spellchecker kept bugging me. So I looked up some words and found ...
0
votes
2answers
11k 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 ...
-2
votes
1answer
648 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
76 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. ...
13
votes
6answers
10k 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
541 views

LOL: Spelling double l or single l for 'lolled, lolling' vs 'loled, loling' [closed]

The word 'lol' (lower case) is now sometimes used in the English language. Should we spell its past tense as 'lolled' or 'loled'? And should it be 'lolling' or 'loling'?
1
vote
1answer
877 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.
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
2k 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
57 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 ...
15
votes
4answers
33k 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
91 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
309 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
8k 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
773 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, ...