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
1answer
318 views

How compound words “eighteen” and “roommate” are built

Why does eighteen not have two tees like roommate has two ems?
6
votes
5answers
351 views

Is spelling still drifting?

If you look at texts from a few hundred years ago, they’re almost illegible, what with all the superfluous e’s and y’s running about, the long-S’s (  ſ  ), and so on. Texts from 100 and 120 years ago ...
6
votes
1answer
10k views

Is it spelt “naïve” or “naive”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “Whereäs” as an alternative spelling of “whereas” I've always wondered which is the correct spelling: "naïve" or "naive"? Are both ...
6
votes
1answer
7k views
6
votes
1answer
2k views

Variations in the pronunciation of “ea”

Perhaps this is more of a Linguistics question, so I apologize if this is not posted in the right place. Why is it that these words in English sound so different? earth   = /ɜrθ/     “urth” hearth ...
6
votes
4answers
2k views

Why The New York Times no longer capitalizes “E-mail”

Why isn't E-mail capitalized like it used to be in The New York Times?
6
votes
1answer
203 views

“Dawkins'” or “Dawkins's” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When did it become correct to add an 's' to a singular possessive already ending in 's'? I learned from school to use Dawkins', for example That is ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

“Lambast” or “lambaste”

I looked up both lambast and lambaste in several dictionaries, but came up with no conclusions about which one is AE and which BE (if this distinction can ever be made). Moreover, the different ...
6
votes
4answers
3k 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
302 views

What is the difference between `-` and `--` [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When should I use an em-dash, an en-dash, and a hyphen? Is there any difference between: - and -- or in some cases, a long dash I have seen these two used lots of ...
5
votes
9answers
1k views

Just how important are grammar and spelling?

A blog post of mine made it on the Hacker News front page. My blog post was mainly intended for a very, very small audience, but ended up getting around 20,000 views in one day. The most talked about ...
5
votes
3answers
30k views

31th or 31st is correct? [closed]

I just realized that I’ve never needed to use 31th or 31st in my four years English study. So which one is correct, and what about other alternatives? 31th or 31st 101th or 101st 1001th or ...
5
votes
5answers
426 views

Is “denormalized” a word?

I use it all the time since I work with databases, but every time I write it somewhere with spell check I get the squiggly line below it. I've seen other people spell it with an "s" instead of a "z" ...
5
votes
4answers
2k views

What is the plural of “BlackBerry” (as in the handheld device)

Is the plural of "BlackBerry", BlackBerries or BlackBerrys? I am asking, because I'm altering the underlying brand name to look more like the food and less like the product, leaving the reader to ...
5
votes
4answers
547 views

Usage of apostrophe in “baker’s dozen”

In the phrase “baker’s dozen”, why does the apostrophe indicate possession of a (single) baker? Shouldn't it indicate possession of all bakers in general? Shouldn’t it be “bakers’ dozen”?
5
votes
6answers
905 views

Words starting with a 'gw' sound

There seems to be only a few words starting with the 'gw' sound, though the only ones I can think of are proper nouns, for example, Gwyneth. Are there any non-name words starting with a 'gw'? Is there ...
5
votes
3answers
3k views

Why is “busy” pronounced “bizzy”?

Of all the ways I could come up with to pronounce the word "busy", "bizzy" would be very low on my list. At least "bussy" or "boosy". Why "bizzy"?
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
1k views

Too, two, and to [closed]

Which to/too/two do you use when you are writing, "there are three ways to spell two/too/to in the English language?" My girlfriend has a BS in English and was unable to answer this so I was wondering ...
5
votes
1answer
214 views

Why is the noun form of “permit” “permission”?

The noun form of permit is permission instead of permition. Why isn't it permition?
5
votes
5answers
663 views

Spelling and plural of abbreviation “hi vis”

We regularly use these "hi visibility jackets/vests": We use them often enough to informally abbreviate it to simply "hi vis". I am struggling as to how to pluralise such a term. In speech it ...
5
votes
3answers
12k views

In British English, should it be “licensee” or “licencee”?

We all know that "license" in American English is "licence" in British English. But what about the person to whom the licence is given? Various dictionaries show the 'c' version, e.g.: ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the correct way to write 'for ever more'?

I know that 'forever' is a word, and I know that 'evermore' is a word, but what is the correct way to write the phrase 'for ever more'? Is it 'forever more'? 'For evermore'? Or even 'forevermore', as ...
5
votes
5answers
3k views

“Runtime”, “run time”, and “run-time”

The CLR under .NET is referred to as the "Common Language Runtime." It seems that the convention is "runtime" for a noun and "run-time" for the adjective. Is this correct or should it be "runtime" ...
5
votes
4answers
1k views

Is there a verb “refactor” meaning “doing refactoring” in English?

Code refactoring consists of changing the structure of the code without changing its functionality. The term refactoring is currently used by software development industry to refer to this process. ...
5
votes
3answers
349 views

Is an ellipsis a distinct punctuation mark?

The ellipsis looks like three consecutive periods, but many type faces have a distinct glyph for an ellipsis. Is this an aesthetic distinction, or is the ellipsis actually a different punctuation ...
5
votes
3answers
17k views

Is 'useable' preferred in certain regions, or just an alternate spelling of 'usable'?

I rarely use spell checkers, but today when I did use one, it suggested changing the word 'useable' to 'usable' (i.e. to drop the first 'e'). This seemed immediately intuitive and I thought I'd just ...
5
votes
2answers
205 views

“We'll do it in a…”

Today in my mathematics class my lecturer used a phrase I am very familiar with, and I suspect many others may be familiar with too. However, when thinking about how one would write a particular word ...
5
votes
3answers
5k views

“Indispensible”: is it correct?

Today, I saw a news headline on BBC News. It says: Nuclear power is 'indispensible' says safety agency. As far as I know, the correct word should be "indispensable". Is it a typo (an example ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

Why are the words “lose” and “choose” written differently and pronounced the same way?

I do know that there isn't only one pronunciation for syllables, and I also know that there isn't only one way to write a phoneme, but this intrigues me a lot. Lose is spelled with only one O, and ...
5
votes
2answers
628 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?
5
votes
4answers
7k views

“An other” vs “another”

I just edited this answer on unix.sx. The original sentence was But it won't transform it to an other format. I changed this to But it won't transform it to another format. The second form ...
5
votes
1answer
250 views

What is the significance of the “ô” character in “rôle” in this work?

In this document from 1916, on the last line of the first page is the word rôle. If context matters, the entire sentence is: As might readily be supposed, the control of the lactic acid ...
5
votes
4answers
794 views

Where to insert comma(s)?

Compare these: She tried, and, as expected, failed. She tried, and as expected, failed. She tried and, as expected, failed. She tried and as expected, failed. She tried and (as ...
5
votes
2answers
779 views

Why is quixotic pronounced as it is?

Since "quixotic" was coined with Don Quixote as its basis, why is it pronounced "kwicks-OTT-ick" when it should by rights/origin be pronounced "Key-HO-tick"? It even sounds more onomatopoeiatic the ...
5
votes
5answers
3k views

“Bald Faced Lie” vs. “Bold Faced Lie”

Which of these is correct? What is the origin of this expression? I've searched here on the exchange and haven't found an answer.
5
votes
2answers
2k views

Does there exist an online dictionary in reverse alphabetical order?

A final "s" in a word is usually pronounced \z\, so it is an interesting that the final "z" in "quartz" is pronounced \s\. (I mention interesting quirks like this to my ESL students.) I was wondering ...
5
votes
3answers
653 views

How much mmmm should be in hmmmmmmm

This is my first question here. I am not a fluent English speaker. I just know the basics. My question is how many m's should be there in "hmm" as when I try typing it anywhere, it suggests "hmmm," ...
5
votes
2answers
540 views

Are heteronyms unique to English and why do they exist?

Heteronyms are words with identical spelling and unique definition and pronunciations. For example, read (I have read that book; I will read that book), close (The door is close; I will close the ...
5
votes
3answers
182 views

“Spelling checker” or “spell checker”?

I've always thought a spelling checker is a tool that checks spelling. I know a growing number of people say spell checker, but I've always considered that slang. Recently I did a search for the ...
5
votes
2answers
6k views

Use of hypens with “auto”: autopopulate, auto-populate, or auto populate?

I've done a fair amount of research (like here), but I can't find any examples of hyphen rules with "auto". Microsoft Word doesn't take "autopopulate", but will accept either auto-populate or auto ...
5
votes
2answers
12k views

“travelling” vs. “traveling” [closed]

Is the correct spelling travelling or traveling? I’ve seen both in common usage, but I can't find an authoritative source that says one way or another. Is this a difference between British spelling ...
5
votes
3answers
203 views

Is “ O’Leary’s’s ” orthographically correct? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Possessive of a word that's already possessive? There’s a bar near me named O’Leary’s Irish Pub—or just O’Leary’s for short. One day, they changed their menu. I ...
5
votes
1answer
3k views

Adjectival step by step

When used as an adjective, is it step by step or step-by-step? Example, Thank you for this step by step guide. or Thank you for this step-by-step guide.
5
votes
1answer
4k views

“Exercise” but not “exercize”

Many words are spelled with -ise in British English and -ize in American English: realise/realize sanitise/sanitize scrutinise/scrutinize But exercise can only be spelled with -ise, never with ...
5
votes
2answers
718 views

Why is “hiccup” spelled with two c's?

Is there a historical or grammatical reason for spelling hiccup with two c's?
5
votes
1answer
95 views

“strain gauge” or “gage”?

When referring to a device that measures tensile or compressive force, is the correct spelling strain gauge or strain gage? I realize that in general gage is an archaic spelling of the word gauge, ...
5
votes
1answer
560 views

British spelling of programme and diagram

Does anyone know a reason why British English retains the -amme ending for programme but not for diagram? They both have French origins. Programme ... Spelling programme, established in Britain, ...
5
votes
1answer
728 views

What do the letters ï and ô mean? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What is the distinction between “role” and “rôle” [with a circumflex]? What is the significance of the “ô” character in “rôle” in this work? What is the standard rule ...
5
votes
1answer
220 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 ...