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

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0
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0answers
25 views

Changing tense with brackets: “Bully[ing]” or “Bull[ying]”?

I've noticed that it seems to be common to bracket letters when partially quoting someone in order to make it grammatical. If Bob said "I'll retire when I turn sixty," one might write, "Bob told ...
0
votes
0answers
26 views

Lowercase w/ and w/o or W/ and W/O - which is better?

I am working at an engineering firm and discussing why the lower case w/ and w/o is more widely used and maybe correct, when all the abbreviations here are capitalized, like W/ and W/O. I think it is ...
16
votes
3answers
462 views

What is the origin of “in a jiffy”?

What is the origin of "in a jiffy"? Etymology online Dictionary says origin unknown but speculates that it was slang (cant) for lightning and dates it as 1785. Wikipedia agrees but adds that the ...
1
vote
1answer
39 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 ...
-1
votes
0answers
27 views

Plural Possesive of Fish? [duplicate]

What is the plural possessive of fish. I know that (singular) fish does not change to (incorrect form of plural possessive) fishes. What is the plural possessive of Fish!!!!!!
81
votes
3answers
7k views

How did 7 come to be an abbreviation for 'and' in Old English?

According to A History of the English Language: Revised Edition by Elly van Gelderen, p.53, in Old English the numeral 7 was used as an abbreviation for the word and: Abbreviations are frequently ...
7
votes
3answers
14k views

Is it “flotation” or “floatation”?

Is the difference between flotation and floatation a US/UK difference or something else? I think I did see floatation in some physics book.
4
votes
4answers
7k views

Is it “dent” or “dint”?

It seems both dent and dint can mean an impression or hollow in a surface. Is there a reason for the two spellings? Do they have different connotations?
36
votes
4answers
5k views

Why is ‘i’ in milk pronounced differently from ‘i’ in find?

As far as I know, in words of the structure CVCC, the vowel is usually short. Examples include milk, front, clamp, wasp, sport, etc. However, with some CC types, the vowel seems to always be long ...
17
votes
2answers
590 views

“License” and “licence”

What is the difference between license and licence? Are both variations accepted in US and UK?
8
votes
3answers
19k views

Timepoint vs. time point

When speaking of a point in time, what would be the proper usage: "Timepoint" vs. "Time point"? This funny confusion comes from my life as a programmer: While one of our style checkers enforces ...
8
votes
3answers
8k views

Why is the letter after “Mc” in names capitalized?

For example, McDowell, or McDonald, or McKenna, etc. Is it necessary to capitalize that letter following "Mc"? And if yes, why is this so?
1
vote
2answers
67 views

Why does U sound like W in words like “penguin”?

A semivowel is a vowel that acts like a consonant (including only W and Y and yet U sounds like W sound in words such as penguin, sanguine, but not in guide. Can anyone tell me why?
1
vote
3answers
358 views

What is the plural form of “whitespace”?

I ask this because Firefox suggested that whitespaces is not a valid word; rather it gave me whitespace or white spaces.
1
vote
1answer
48 views

Nonstandard spellings for dialects

Are there standard ways of indicating dialect, as "I 'aven't," I asked 'is name," and especially "It couldn't 'a' 'appened." Can "have" be indicated with just "a"?
0
votes
1answer
76 views

Spelling Errors that Gained Legitimacy [closed]

I am trying to find examples of words that were classified as spelling errors when they first appeared, but over time gained legitimacy and are now accepted as valid words. Is there a name for this ...
95
votes
1answer
78k views

When should I use an em-dash, an en-dash, and a hyphen?

I generally know how to use a hyphen, but when should I use an en-dash instead of an em-dash, or when should I use a hyphen instead of an em-dash?
0
votes
1answer
33 views

What is the correct spelling for “These are known as the three “V’s”: veracity, voraciousness and vivacity.”

What is the correct spelling and grammar for the following sentence? These are known as the three "V's": veracity, voraciousness and vivacity. In particular, should the "V" be capitalized, ...
28
votes
4answers
5k views

Why is there an “a” in “beggar”? Why not an “e”?

Why does beggar end in -ar? Many identically sounding words just use -er, if not all. Examples: bumper pepper tagger chanter pegger They all use the -er version. Also, history shows that beggar ...
-1
votes
1answer
227 views

(UK-US English) If “mom = mother” then why “mum” isn't “muther”? [closed]

So, I've noticed something weird. People who speak US English say Mom. Mom represents the word "mother". People who speak UK English say Mum. Mum also represents the word "mother". Why isn't it ...
2
votes
3answers
476 views

Noun phrase converted to verb, is a hyphen needed?

When "air kiss" is treated as a verb, as in "they air kissed", should it be hyphenated to "air-kissed"?
0
votes
5answers
77 views

Why is it “wherever” instead of “whereever”?

The popular question words how, when, what, why, which and some more all have their accompanying word ending in -ever, like however and whatever. It seems to me that the word wherever is somewhat ...
10
votes
2answers
3k views

Why is “gauge” spelled with a 'u'?

I was rather old before I realized "gauge" is pronounced (and sometimes spelt) "gage". The etymology doesn't reveal too much: mid-15c., from Anglo-Fr. gauge (mid-14c.), from O.N.Fr. gauger, from ...
0
votes
1answer
24 views

practice vs practise sentence question [closed]

Do both these sentences work? (British form) she needs more English practice. she needs more English practise.
6
votes
4answers
2k views

'Postpone' or 'postphone'?

I was taught that the word postpone was spelled as I just spelled it, but recently I have seen a rise in the spelling postphone (or post phone). At first, I thought it was just a spelling error, but I ...
4
votes
3answers
7k views

“Hirable” or “hireable”

What is the correct adjective form of the word hire? I have seen references to both hireable and hirable. I checked using Google's Ngram viewer book search and it appears that both have been in use ...
8
votes
3answers
1k views

Does anyone write “noöne” with a diaeresis?

Related: "Whereäs" as an alternative spelling of "whereas" Does anyone write "no-one" as "noöne", with the diaeresis (double-dot) serving to separate the syllables?
0
votes
1answer
37 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 ...
0
votes
0answers
9 views

Why are “strauss's” and “chris mccandless's” prevalent? [duplicate]

Why "Strauss's" and "McCandless's" are prevalent. Isn't their spelling wrong? The correct ones as my school teachers taught should be "Strauss'" and "McCandless'", or am I (taught) wrong?
0
votes
1answer
53 views

Contractions: Are “I would’ve” and “I’d have” both equally permissible?

Instead of “I would have done something”, are both of these versions ok? I would’ve done something. I’d have done something.
15
votes
3answers
1k views

Why is there a distinction between “its” and “it's”?

While I know technically the English language has a distinction because when there's a conflict between the possessive form and a contraction, the contraction wins. That is: Its is the possessive ...
5
votes
6answers
4k 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" ...
14
votes
5answers
5k views

How to spell [ʒʊʒd] and what does it mean?

I heard this strange word in American Dad over a year ago and it's been bugging me ever since. Not only do I have no idea how it's spelt, I have no idea how it could possibly be spelt. My only guesses ...
5
votes
1answer
283 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 ...
16
votes
2answers
1k views

“Quyer” When and why did the spelling change so drastically?

The snippet above is taken from The Gentleman's Magazine (London, England), Volume 53, dated, 1783. It's only when you say Quyer out loud, do you realize what the word is. It is one of the ...
1
vote
1answer
95 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
28k views

Is “imbedded” a valid spelling of the word “embedded”?

I have seen this used on our marketing materials: The technology imbedded in this solution will help improve productivity. I was going to flag it as a spelling error, however Googling provided ...
4
votes
2answers
4k views

Plural of 'quiz'

The plural of "quiz" is spelled with double "z" while the plural of "box" (and sometimes "bus") is spelled with single last consonant. Why is it so? Is this the general rule to double the last ...
0
votes
3answers
168 views

Why “producing”, not “produccing”? [closed]

Same with "bleeding" and "bleedding". We say "swimming", so why not "bleedding"?
3
votes
2answers
2k views

“Parametrise” or “parameterise” a curve?

In British English, which one is correct? Does one parameterise a curve or parametrise it?
1
vote
2answers
10k views

“Indeed/in deed/indid/in did”

I am not a native speaker and get constantly confused which one to use when I would like to approve some statement or someone's sentence. A really nice one indeed. A really nice one in deed. ...
1
vote
3answers
93 views

Is it “re-offend” or “reoffend”? [closed]

I want to know whether there is a hyphen in the word re-offend, or if it is spelt reoffend. I looked in Oxford English dictionary and the word "reoffend" appears, but then I checked Merriam-Webster ...
0
votes
2answers
74 views

How would you abbreviate Amount per Hour?

If I need the abbreviation of "Amount per Hour" to be used as a label/title, should it be: "Amt/Hr" or "Amt/hr" or something else?
5
votes
1answer
4k 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.
6
votes
2answers
5k views

Is “swop” an acceptable variant of “swap”?

I've always spelt it with an "a". But my friend insists on spelling it with an "o". Is this an acceptable variant?
2
votes
2answers
301 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 ...
10
votes
6answers
22k views

“Smooths” versus “Smoothes”

I am interested in the rapid rise (since about 1993) in frequency of the spelling smoothes as against smooths. An Ngram Viewer graph tracking the frequency of usage of the two words from 1800 to ...
7
votes
2answers
3k 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
2k 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 ...