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)

7
votes
3answers
7k views

“shyer” or “shier”

My Longman dictionary states that the comparative of 'shy' is 'shyer'. However, at least two online dictionaries also give the form 'shier' as being acceptable: The Free Dictionary and ...
1
vote
1answer
112 views

Why do some words become amalgamated?

Why do some words in English become joined together and what is the criteria that prevents common phrases of doing the same? For example: None the less > Nonetheless Never the less > ...
1
vote
2answers
1k views

Accent Marks in English

Why doesn't the English language have accent marks? I have been trying to understand the critical differences that are present between the English and Spanish language, however I just can not wrap my ...
5
votes
1answer
448 views

How to hyphenate a negated compound noun?

We have a term for a process, "defect source assessment". We want to describe a set of processes that are not related to that process. Which of the following (if any) would be correct? non ...
2
votes
4answers
1k views

Capitalization of words derived from proper nouns

Should words derived from proper nouns be capitalized or not? e.g. "Romanize/romanize", "Boolean/boolean" (I have seen both forms in the corpora and dictionaries). Personally I think the derived ...
21
votes
2answers
2k views

Why does the 'i' in 'explain' disappear when written as 'explanation'?

The word 'explain' has an 'i'. Why does that 'i' disappear when we write it as 'explanation'.
1
vote
0answers
158 views

Name of the archaic “F” character used for an “S” [duplicate]

Into the 19th century, accepted orthography often used a letter character that resembles an F (but is not in fact identical to an F) when today we would invariably use an S. What is this character ...
2
votes
2answers
110 views

What is the origin of the word “What”?

Where does the word what come from? Why do we say wot when it's spelt the way it is?
3
votes
4answers
6k views

Can “nighttime” be used instead of “night-time”?

I forgot where but I saw the word "night-time" written like "nighttime". Now is that correct or accepted? Can it be written as a single word? I am specifically concerned about British usage. I did ...
8
votes
3answers
1k views

Why is “poignant” pronounced /ˈpɔɪɲənt/?

I felt a little bit strange when I heard poignant pronounced as /ˈpɔɪɲənt/. It is also pronounced as /ˈpɔɪgnənt/, but the former seems to be more popular. A word stagnant has similar spelling, but ...
1
vote
1answer
55 views

Two step method or two steps method [duplicate]

It seems like a particular dance is called "Two-step". It gave me some doubts about how to spell step in the description of a method I use. If my method has two steps, should it be called a two step ...
0
votes
1answer
103 views

How would you write B1 in dialogue?

Are there any rules regarding how to write model numbers or serial numbers in dialogue? For example, B1. "B one." "B1." Or "B-one."
8
votes
2answers
691 views

Why does “agree” only have one “g”?

According to Webster, "Agree" comes from Latin's ad + gratus. However there are other words such as "aggregate" and "aggression" that also come from ad + [something], and these words have a double "g" ...
5
votes
1answer
421 views

Relaxed Pronunciation

As a court reporter & supervisor for 34 years our rule of thumb in the transcription of evidence, many people relax their pronunciation whilst on the stand, such as "gotta, kinda" but we've always ...
3
votes
2answers
121 views

Why are *accept* and *except* commonly misspelled as each other? Are they homophones?

Why are accept and except commonly confused for each other when writing? This is unlike most cases, where misspellings come from homophones. In my idiolect at least, accept is /ək.'sɛpt/, and except ...
1
vote
1answer
131 views

How should “makeup” be written in BrEng?

By "makeup", I mean cosmetics, as in lipstick, foundation, eyeliner, etc. My assumption is that it should be written as "makeup", but others have suggested "make up" or "make-up". In case there are ...
15
votes
5answers
3k views

Why does the letter ‘o’ appear in the word ‘people’?

My two daughters demanded to know this. I speculated that it was artificially inserted, perhaps in the 17th-18th century, perhaps to make the word look more like populus, somewhat similar to the way ...
0
votes
1answer
493 views

“high-reliable”, “highly reliable”, or something else?

There was a discussion with my colleagues about a paper that I am currently writing and in which I use phrases like "a high-reliable system architecture". Some of my colleagues hold the view that this ...
3
votes
3answers
1k views

When did “Pensylvania” become “Pennsylvania”?

On the Liberty Bell, it's spelled Pensylvania. Likewise on plenty of maps from the colonial days. When did it become Pennsylvania (with three n's)?
1
vote
2answers
1k views

Why is “threshold” pronounced “thresh-hold”?

Why is threshold pronounced "thresh-hold"?
0
votes
4answers
185 views

“woman” or “women” as a stand-in for the adjective “female”? [closed]

As in, Emily Dickinson was a great woman poet or Emily Dickinson was a great women poet in order to mean Emily Dickinson was a great female poet Think I may have seen this adjectival ...
16
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
4k views

siphon vs. syphon - any reason to prefer one over the other?

I've come across two spellings for this word. Siphon and syphon are apparently both correct. English is not my first language and this word is not used often in practice, especially in written form. I ...
2
votes
1answer
355 views

In a combination of two vowels (such as “ae”), what rule determines if the first (“a”) or second (“e”) is silent?

In a combination of two vowels (such as "ae"), what English rule determines if the first ("a") or second ("e") is silent? For example, in the word "praetor", the vowel "a" is silent but in the word ...
-1
votes
1answer
241 views

Is this a portmanteau, contraction, or perhaps both?

I have chosen to edit this post because it apparently has offended some of the more sensitive among us. While, personally, I feel this should prompt discourse rather than down votes, I do not wish to ...
3
votes
2answers
160 views

When, and why, did breaks become brakes?

Reading an account of the Round Oak Train Crash, I came across this passage:- A good deal of suspicion, to say the least of it, must fall upon the hind guard, Frederick Cook, as to the mode in ...
6
votes
1answer
5k views

Processor vs Processer

Is there any difference between "processor" and "processer"? Some spelling dictionaries only have the -or form, and some have both. Is it a US vs UK English thing? Or something else? More ...
1
vote
0answers
47 views

Should I preserve spelling when quoting American English in a British English text, or vice versa? [duplicate]

Suppose I am writing an (academic) text in British English, but have to quote a text from an author who writes in American English. Should I preserve the author's original spelling, or convert it to ...
0
votes
1answer
224 views

Best ways to write thoughts in narrative

I would normally put a thought in a narrative in quotation marks, but it becomes boring and stilted to continually write, thought Mary, or thought John. A thought normally would have a different ...
1
vote
2answers
2k views

Why are there two different ways to spell “expediter”?

There seems to be two different ways to spell "expediter": expediter expeditor A quick Google search reveals a nearly equal split between the two spellings. Are the two spellings specific to a ...
0
votes
0answers
12 views

Is it possible to use a hyphen in a listing (in a sentence) for abbreviation, even if the compound word consists of two separate words [duplicate]

I'm currently asking myself if it is possible to use "-" for abbreviation in a listing in a sentence to emphasize the togetherness of the previous words and the word in the end, even if they are two ...
16
votes
2answers
1k views

What's the deal with “fiery”?

How did English end up with the adjective fiery (instead of *firy) from fire, but miry from mire and wiry from wire? Are there any other words where the noun is -ire and the adjective is -iery?
0
votes
0answers
37 views

“e” before “i” in the word “weird” [duplicate]

In elementary school, I was taught the rhyme: "i" before "e" except after "c", and in words like "neighbor" and "weigh" Obviously this means that "ei" is used in "deceive" (it comes after "c") ...
-1
votes
4answers
184 views

“Linder” or “linnder” for lunch/dinner

We have plans for a late lunch / early dinner planned for 4:00 pm in mid December. I would like to indicate that it's more than lunch and less than dinner. I have heard it called linder or ...
0
votes
3answers
969 views

Do you hand something over or off?

I am looking for the correct American English expression and spelling. My particular context is that I am responsible for something precious, which I give to somebody else, who is then responsible ...
-1
votes
1answer
227 views

Are sneer quotes the same exact thing as scare quotes? [closed]

Are sneer quotes the same exact thing as scare quotes? I believe they're synonymous but am unsure.
0
votes
1answer
79 views

Italics used for the plural treatment of words? [duplicate]

Do these look right to you? I'm pluralizing the following words. In doing so, I'm italicizing the word to be pluralized but not the 's': ands (instead of and's) wherefores (instead of wherefore's) ...
8
votes
1answer
2k views

Is “vapourise” considered incorrect, even in British English?

According to Wiktionary, the British spelling of "vaporize" is vaporise, not vapourise as one might expect from the word vapour (and similarly, the Canadian spelling is still vaporize, not vapourize). ...
0
votes
1answer
65 views

“Next one” vs “next”

What is the difference between the "next one" and just "next"? Let's suppose we have a lot of people in a queue, and as one person comes, someone says "the next one is white, tall, has black eyes, is ...
0
votes
0answers
39 views

Why “qu” is pronounced “qw” (as in quit, question) [duplicate]

Or to put it the other way, why qu is not spelled qw, as qwit, qwestion, for quit, question.
1
vote
4answers
113 views

Terms for game mode depending on number of players

Suppose you have a game with following modes: a human player with no opponents a human player with a computer/AI opponent multiple human players The third mode is referred to as multiplayer. The ...
8
votes
5answers
42k views

Which is correct, “cill” or “sill”?

When I was an architectural technician, I used the spelling cill (e.g. window cill). I knew of one architect who used sill and stated that this was the older and more correct form. My Concise Oxford ...
3
votes
3answers
582 views

Is hierarchial a word?

I've found one reference that says hierarchial is an alternative form of hierarchical, but it's an unreferenced resource. Some wiseacre wrote a bug fix for my software saying hierarchical was the ...
0
votes
2answers
2k views

Correct way to spell “young'un”? [closed]

As slang, this phrase: Since I was a young'un... Is there an accepted way to abbreviate the last word there?
1
vote
1answer
236 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
1answer
232 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
1
vote
1answer
440 views

Why `night` with gh?

I am not native speaker. And me very interesting why night writting with gh? Thanks
1
vote
2answers
120 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
335 views

Why is “success” spelled with double -S?

What is the function of the double s at the end of the word, success?
3
votes
1answer
665 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 / ...