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

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3
votes
2answers
250 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
970 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

Why is “sauté” spelled with an accent and “repartee” not?

Why are these words spelled differently? They have the same sound at the end, right?
0
votes
2answers
59 views

What is the plural for timeout?

In basketball, football, hockey, and many other sport the teams get a set number of timeouts. I was watching a summer league NBA game and there were some stat nerds talking and one referenced that ...
4
votes
1answer
62 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 ...
0
votes
2answers
87 views

Should a “dorito” always be capitalized?

I had a bag of Doritos, so I gave him a dorito. Should the word "dorito" be capitalized? Why or why not? Or should I use italics?
2
votes
2answers
8k 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
215 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
29 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
65 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?
1
vote
1answer
101 views

“long” <i> - inconsistencies in the relationship between orthography and pronunciation

I'm wondering about the dual pronunciations of the letter /i/ in open syllables. Usually it has the realization [a͡ɪ], representing the regular outcome of long i after the great vowel shift, but ...
6
votes
3answers
2k 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
117 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
4answers
306 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 ...
15
votes
2answers
12k views

“Programming” versus “programing”: which is preferred?

I was surprised that my spell checker did not complain for programing with one m, so I Googled it, and found on free dictionaries that both forms were acceptable. Which one is more common? Does it ...
-2
votes
1answer
104 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
48 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. ...
1
vote
2answers
9k 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 ...
49
votes
2answers
6k views

Why is “q” followed by a “u”?

Is there a particular rule that states that q should always be followed by a u? Because in certain cases like Qatar, or qawwali, this so-called rule is violated. What do you folks say?
13
votes
6answers
8k 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
9k 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
116 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
265 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
184 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.
17
votes
5answers
2k 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
4answers
89 views

What's the name for when a word changes its pronunciation because of how people read?

With greater literacy in the past 100 years, most English speakers are also proficient at writing. Sometimes due to the great divide between English spellings and the true pronunciation, people will ...
1
vote
1answer
76 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", ...
11
votes
5answers
6k views

Is there a good rule of thumb for plurals from words 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 ...
9
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
36 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 ...
14
votes
4answers
26k 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
76 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
65 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 ...
22
votes
3answers
1k views

Possessive of a word that is already possessive

If the cricket ground Lord's is a possessive, what if you want to describe something belonging to Lord's? Would you say "I was very impressed by Lord's's customer services"? It doesn't look right, ...
39
votes
4answers
6k 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 ...
30
votes
4answers
6k 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
560 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, ...
11
votes
3answers
884 views

Where did the practice of using apostrophes for possessive nouns but not pronouns originate?

Where did the practice of using apostrophes for possessive nouns but not pronouns originate? For example, possessive nouns (both proper and common) are written with a apostrophe before the final s: ...
23
votes
4answers
49k views

Why is the word 'bologna' pronounced like 'baloney'?

Why is the word 'bologna' (as in a bologna sandwich) pronounced so differently from the way it's spelled? The word 'lasagna' isn't pronounced 'lasagney'... The American sausage is derived from a ...
1
vote
1answer
33 views

Which word is most correct in this case: re-settle or resettle?

In reference to the word settle as it pertains to the specific definition: Determine; decide on: There is some debate internally on whether to use the word resettle which only has one ...
0
votes
2answers
62 views

Capitalization of “A” in “Dear All” [duplicate]

At my work place, whenever an e-mail is sent to more then one person, it starts with "Dear All" or "Dear all". Should the letter "A" be capitalized in "All" as it is not a proper noun? Would it be ...
1
vote
2answers
68 views

Whereafter or where after, one or two words?

If I Google the word whereafter, multiple online dictionaries claim it is one word. However, if I type it in Microsoft Outlook, then spellcheck insists that it is two words. Grammarly seems to accept ...
0
votes
2answers
77 views

Is there a term for a word created by adding a letter to an existing word? [closed]

It's possible to generate English words by adding letters to existing words—for instance: last > blast utility > futility Is there a term for this, i.e. when a word is created by adding a letter ...
1
vote
2answers
68 views

Is there a name for the Mc or O' when used at the beginning of a surname?

My daughters asked me what the Mc, Mac, and O' beginnings of names are called. Is there a specific name for that specific part of a surname?
1
vote
2answers
189 views

Should I write 'or' or '/'? [closed]

I can't decide. In a formal letter, addressed to somebody I don't know, which one would you go with?... Dear Sir/Madam or Dear Sir or Madam
0
votes
4answers
1k views

Use “underway” or “under way” as an adverb?

Is it proper to use underway as an adverb? Or should under way be used? Merriam-Webster defines underway as an adjective and under way as an adverb. The Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & ...
14
votes
2answers
16k views

Why is the “a” in “cocoa” silent?

Not being a native speaker of English, one of those words that tripped me up is “cocoa”. Besides having its vowels inverted from “cacao”; it also is pronounced exactly the same as “coco”, whereas ...
2
votes
5answers
5k 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 ...
10
votes
5answers
25k 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?
24
votes
5answers
620 views

Is it Web site or website?

Future Perfect's "Is it Web site or website?" states: Since the World Wide Web is a proper noun, we use initial upper-case letters, as we would with your surname, for example. As for ...