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

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7
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
23
votes
4answers
1k views

Words with a leading silent w

My eldest is a beginning reader. Yesterday we read one of my favorite books, The Wreck of the Zephyr. He pointed at wreck and asked me why that one looked like it said "wuh-reck." I explained that ...
0
votes
1answer
2k views

Why does a silent “-e” at the end of a word lengthen vowels?

There's a common pattern in English spelling where "short" vowels are pronounced as "long" vowels with the addition of a silent "e" at the end of the word. E.g. bit → bite mat → mate pet → pete ...
13
votes
2answers
32k views

Why is the “L” silent when pronouncing “salmon”?

Why is the letter l silent when pronouncing salmon properly?
1
vote
3answers
286 views

Why are “some” letters silent in English? [closed]

There are many such words that we all know about, but please explain why the makers of the English language made up words with silent letters?
0
votes
1answer
34 views

why is it “one European institution”, but “European Institutions” (with capital i) if talking about several authorities?

I found this spelling differentiation on the website of the EU commission and you can see it on wikipedia, too: "There are a range of European Institutions in Strasbourg (France), the oldest of which ...
3
votes
2answers
95 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
29 views

Should the names of different sorting algorithms be “<qualifier> sort” or “<qualifier>sort”?

Should the names of different sorting algorithms be <qualifier> sort or <qualifier>sort? The titles of Wikipedia articles of these sorting algorithms are not consistent with respect to ...
8
votes
3answers
2k views

English line breaking rules

In Czech typography, some prepositions are not allowed to be at the end of the line, so line break is not allowed between that preposition and the following word. Are there similar rules in English ...
0
votes
1answer
12k views

Tassel vs. Tassle? Which is correctly spelled, or both? [closed]

I think I found an error in someone's work, where they spelled "tassel" as "tassle". Before I mention it to them I want to be 100% sure that this is really a problem and there is no alternate ...
2
votes
4answers
140 views

Noun to describe a “typo-filled” letter

I am changing my e-mail signature on my phone to read: Sent from my Samsung Galaxy S4. Please do not mistake my brevity and/or misspellings for apathy and/or ignorance. I am looking for a ...
3
votes
2answers
550 views

Why is imperialism not spelled empirialism?

If the goal of imperialism is to create an empire, why is the word not spelled "empirialism"?
16
votes
2answers
842 views

The U in “Glamour”

Why, in US English, does the word glamour retain its u while humour, neighbour, and others have shed it?
-4
votes
1answer
62 views

Why don't we use an apostrophe to denote ownership on 'it'? [duplicate]

We use apostrophes to denote ownership: I wrapped the cat's claws so he wouldn't scratch me while I handled him. However, we don't use an apostrophe when 'it' is the owner. The cat licked ...
11
votes
4answers
4k 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.
11
votes
3answers
2k views

From French “manœuvre” to English “manoeuvre”, does “œ” exist in English?

Sadly, I don’t have much to add from the title to this question: does œ exist in English, such as in the word manœuvre? The same question may also apply to what the French call the “e dans l’a” (e in ...
0
votes
3answers
6k views

Apostrophe before or after s? [closed]

In the sentence: The author was greatly in love with Annabel Lee and described their love for each other as greater than anyone elses’. Does the apostrophe go before or after the s in else? ...
7
votes
4answers
9k 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?
1
vote
1answer
354 views

Why is “delight” spelt and pronounced the way it is?

This as everything probably has something to do with the GVS, but how?
8
votes
2answers
2k views

Why is “k” added to “panic” when suffixes added (as in “panicky”)?

When adding any suffix to the word "panic," a "k" is added after the "c". Examples: panicked, panicking, panicky. Why is this the case? Are there any other English words that do the same? I'm also ...
11
votes
1answer
978 views

Rules for removing last vowel when adding “-able”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When to drop the 'e' when ending in -able? Both are correct for these words: sizable, sizeable sharable, shareable takable, takeable But these words are ...
4
votes
1answer
3k views

Hwat, hwere, and hwy?

In which English accents do they put an h before every word that starts with wh? Example from Youtube. Notice his pronunciation of whisky.
9
votes
3answers
2k views

Capitalization for a bullet list

The following is from some software documentation we are writing: NOTE: Refreshing a report may be necessary or helpful when: you believe the data in the report has changed since it was ...
1
vote
1answer
75 views

Can all verbs ending in “-ise” be written with the suffix “ize”? [closed]

Are there any "-ise" (or "-yse") words which cannot be (or are never) written using "-ize"? I searched for prior questions, and came across: Correct use of "ise" vs "ize" at the ...
7
votes
4answers
13k views

“Checking” vs. “chequing” vs. “chequeing” with regards to types of bank accounts

I came across this little dilemma when looking up the incorrectly spelled word "chequing" in my web browser's dictionary (Opera). According to the different dictionaries you can select in Opera: EN ...
0
votes
1answer
68 views

Plural of “is” — “ises” or “isses”?

If I had many is words, how would I refer to them in the form of a plural? Could I use ises or isses? Example: You use entirely too many isses in your sentences.
15
votes
3answers
45k views

“Thru” vs. “through”

Could anyone explain the differences between "thru" and "through"? Is the difference only in spelling? Is "thru" some sort of slang?
3
votes
3answers
320 views

Words with Transposed or Inverted Syllables

In its definition of sideburns, Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition (2003) refers to the spelling as an "anagram of burnsides." But since derubniss, sisburden, and ubersnids are ...
0
votes
1answer
49 views

“Unionized” vs. ”Un-ionized” [duplicate]

I know there exists a term for the to–too–two situation where the words are pronounced the same but spelled differently. Is there a term for the situation of unionized /ˈjuːnɪənɑɪzd/ and un-ionized ...
13
votes
3answers
711 views

What was going on with “quha”, “quhat” and the like in Scots and English?

From the Dictionar o the Scots Leid: Quha, Quhay, interrog. and rel. pron. Also: qwha, qha, qua, qwa, wha, vha, hua; qhaa; quhaw; quhai qwhay, whay, quay; quhae, whae; quhe, quhey, qwhey. ...
1
vote
1answer
44 views

Why do 'organization' and 'organisation' both seem to be commonly accepted spellings, and when is one used over the other?

Looking at several online dictionary resources, it seems that the accepted spelling of "organization" is with a 'z', however, even on this site, "organisation" is frequently used as the spelling. Why ...
0
votes
1answer
30 views

“Respect, where has it gone?” vs “Respect. Where has it gone?”

We are using the following topic for a speech contest and there is a question as to punctuation Respect, where has it gone? or Respect. Where has it gone?
-4
votes
2answers
76 views

Spelling History: Dying vs Diing [closed]

As I recall, when I was in Grade School (40 years ago), the spelling of the word dying was taught as diing. Am I losing my mind or was that possible?
3
votes
4answers
17k views

Are “eery” and “eerie” equally acceptable spellings?

I used "eery" yesterday in a text and was corrected jokingly by my correspondent to "eerie." Looking at it after the fact, neither 'looks' right to me and both get through auto-correct with no red ...
3
votes
1answer
1k views
2
votes
1answer
101 views

Is “thank's” an alternative correct spelling?

My colleague who is American spells "thank's" (with an apostrophe) and when I ask him why he said because it's "more formal" and "he uses American English". Is this true? Can you really spell ...
4
votes
1answer
295 views

Is there such a thing as “Injective Relief” (as a legal term)?

I was recently given a nondisclosure agreement to sign. On the form it stated that the company may seek "injective relief" as needed in order to enforce the agreement. Now, I'm quite familiar with ...
9
votes
5answers
17k views

What is the possessive of “you guys”?

Most people seem to stumble over this. The problem can arise with any multi-word phrase that needs a possessive but ends in S, and so sounds awkward using the clitic apostrophe-S. I've heard this ...
6
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"?
12
votes
1answer
30k views

“Queueing” or “Queuing”

Which spelling is better, queueing or queuing? Both words seem to mean the same (or am I wrong?), but there are two different spellings. My context is: Queueing Latency vs. Queuing Latency ...
-2
votes
1answer
1k views

“Bazaar” vs. “bazar”

Which of bazaar or bazar is better to use for the domain name of specialised marketplace? Both are available according to the dictionaries. Any advice which of these two is better to use in the URL? ...
1
vote
1answer
48 views

Complacency vs complacence, stagnancy vs stagnance, etc

I could only find this blog that suggests that complacence is "is a calm satisfaction with oneself" whereas "complacency means a self-satisfaction but coupled with a lack of awareness of what is ...
1
vote
1answer
172 views

Shalln't vs. Shan't in British English

I am a British English speaker and often use "shall" and "shall not". When I contract "shall not", I pronounce it [ʃɑlnt] -- that is, the "l" sound remains. My question, therefore, is how do I spell ...
5
votes
2answers
6k 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 ...
4
votes
5answers
30k views

“Vendor” vs. “vender” in Standard American English

Which is preferred? I've always thought that vendor was the only spelling. The question was brought up by a typo, which the Word spellchecker did not correct.
1
vote
1answer
57 views

Why is 'spatial' written with a t instead of a c?

The word 'spatial' is obviously derived from the word 'space'. So why is it usually written with a 't' instead of a 'c'? Is there a historical reason or is it because of some grammar rule I do not ...
1
vote
1answer
62 views

What does this person say in this video?

I don't know if this is allowed but I want to know what this Gwyneth Paltrow say in this video at 0:51 to be exact. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZORey6EHF3g or ...
0
votes
2answers
345 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
votes
1answer
85 views

When using symbols instead of words in writing, do I use “an” or “a” before the symbol? [duplicate]

The sentence in question: Every list item that is marked with an * is optional. The word "asterisks" isn't spelled out, so I'm not sure if "an" or "a" is the correct word to put before it.
0
votes
2answers
45 views

Adding “-ing” to a verb ending with a pronounced “e”

When a verb ends with a "e" that is pronounced, do you get rid of the "e" when you add "-ing"? For example, would you say "His karaoking last night was really unique", or "His karaokeing last night ...