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

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1answer
10 views

Hyphenation in pre[-]determined

Pre-determined or predetermined? I've seen both forms. Are both right, or only one of them? Is there any dialect difference between AE and BE? Do the same rules apply for all words starting with pre ...
0
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2answers
694 views

Confusion over the general rules governing the use of the hyphen in English [duplicate]

I often get confused by the rules for using hyphens. According to this entry from the Oxford Dictionaries web site, I must always use a hyphen in these cases: Hyphens are used in many compound ...
0
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2answers
322 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 ...
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4answers
8k views

Differentiating between “written” and “writing” [closed]

For some reason it is written and writing. It's confusing to me. How can I remember to write them differently?
33
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2answers
23k views

Use of “f ” instead of “s” in historic, printed English documents

I was at a museum in London yesterday, and one of the items on exhibit is a document from the eighteenth century. It uses the letter f a lot where s should be used—for example, in Majefty. Did the ...
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3answers
38 views

Plural of The Letter S

In a previous question here What is the proper way to write the plural of a single letter? (another apostrophe question) someone asked what the plural of a letter is. The answer given was for ...
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1answer
20 views

Spelling of numbers and particle “and”

I know that in order to spell a number you have to insert an "and" between the hundred and units. For instance 301 will be "three hundred and one". But what about larger numbers? 1,301 is "one ...
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0answers
17 views

When do you link composite words with dashes? (compounds)

In German (my mother tongue) it is very common to combine several nouns into a new word by linking them together with dashes. After a word has been established in German, you even see it getting ...
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3answers
1k views

Why is “build” spelt with a “u”?

I was just looking at build on Wiktionary and I noticed that in Middle English the word was bilden. Where did the u come from? I can understand why words such as guide have a u; it's to make the g ...
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1answer
59 views

What do you call the phenomenon where you suddenly feel that a word's spelling is wrong?

First of all, does this actually happen to others? Hopefully it does. In my case at least, the most commonplace words suddenly seem to be spelled wrong. The most common examples are why, while, ...
-1
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1answer
51 views

Why are there silent letters? [duplicate]

Why do we put letters in some words which are silent in pronunciation? If they make no sound then why we waste space in words? For example: "Knife"; 'K' is silent "Doubt"; 'b' is silent etc.
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2answers
607 views

3D vs 3d vs 3-d vs 3-dimensional

How do you correctly abbreviate that something is in "three dimensions" in formal writing? As per the title, would you write either "3D", "3d", or "3-d"? I want to write something like: The ...
23
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1answer
2k views

Graphotactics of possessive: the true reason for the apostrophe

I have some hypotheses for English graphotactics: 〈w〉 and 〈y〉 are optional positional variants (i.e. allographs) of 〈u〉 and 〈i〉, respectively, in digraphs that correspond with diphthongs or vowels: ...
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2answers
83 views

Other special hyphenation examples than eight-teen

According to The TeXbook [Don Knuth, 1984], solution to Exercise 14.8, the word eighteen should be hyphenated eight-teen. It is, indeed, standard practice in pre-reform German to contract triple ...
-5
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0answers
53 views

Is Mssipllenig ipmrotnat csnodirenig rdaebaility denso't seffur? [duplicate]

I won't mis-spell the entire question because I have made the point... Why do we care about spelling accuracy at all when it has been shown that we can read sentences with the letters in practically ...
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0answers
38 views
5
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1answer
162 views

Proper spelling of variant of “suspicious”

I'm not sure if it's an Aussie thing, but if something is suspicious, then it's sus(s), e.g: Someone added me on Facebook but they don't have a profile picture. I think they're a bit sus(s). The ...
2
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2answers
133 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?
2
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2answers
15k views

Independance or Independence?

What other words are like "independence" in British English where you replace the 'a' with an 'e'?
1
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1answer
40 views

“Neandertal”? Have English-speaking scientists now adopted the modern spelling?

In the 19th century the name of the valley in Germany was spelled "Neanderthal", and now it seems to be "Neandertal", with exactly the same pronunciation. But as far as I knew before tonight, the ...
1
vote
2answers
5k views

Why is the plural of “basis” “bases” and not “baseis”?

Looking at the noun basis on Wiktionary.com, it indicates that the plural is either bases or baseis. It looks like the rare baseis comes from the Greek, but the common bases just refers back to basis ...
1
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2answers
2k 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 ...
1
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2answers
4k views

“Leader board” vs. “leaderboard”

Is there a preferred spelling for the word "leaderboard"? Should it be one word or two? It would seem that both are correct, but is either preferred?
0
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2answers
28 views

How to spell correctly: “neutral-stability curve” or “neutral stability curve”? [closed]

I have a question regarding spelling the following phrase: "neutral stability curve" in the meaning of "curve of neutral stability". Should I put a hyphen between "neutral" and "stability" or not? Is ...
3
votes
1answer
71 views

What kind of spelling error is using “are” in the place of “our”?

It's using the homophone but is there a name for that kind of spelling error in Child Writing Acquisition? The whole phrase is: After that we Played with are inten do will". Of course there ...
2
votes
1answer
96 views

Why is “number” abbreviated as “No.”? [duplicate]

The spelling of number is number, but the abbreviation is No (№). There is no letter o in number, so where does this spelling come from?
22
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2answers
22k views

“noone”, “no one” or “no-one”?

What is the correct form? Does context play a role? Are there noticeable trends towards the awkward "noone" or is it just a by-product of careless orthography on the Internet?
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2answers
30 views

Communism/communism and Communist/communist [duplicate]

I have some doubts regarding capitalizing or not the following words: Communism Communist I know that Communism is generally written with capital letter, but sometimes I have this doubt and cannot ...
1
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1answer
55 views

Word for a word that changes spelling but not meaning?

What is the word that describes a word that has changed in spelling but not meaning, such as how the word "to-day" was once spelt "today"?
3
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4answers
13k views

“Fermentor” vs. “fermenter”

I am curious to know the correct usage of these words as it seems to be misused often. See http://meta.homebrew.stackexchange.com/q/202/59 for a related question.
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2answers
2k views

Do Americans also typically use the word “aesthetic” spelled that way?

As far as I know, the word "aesthetic" can be considered the "British" or "European" way of spelling the word, like "caesium" or "haemophilia". The spelling "esthetic" (which replaces the ae with e as ...
68
votes
8answers
100k views

Plurals of acronyms, letters, numbers — use an apostrophe or not?

When I was in high school back in the 1970s, I was taught that to make a plural of an acronym, a letter, or a number, one should add an apostrophe and "s". Like I would have written this sentence, ...
9
votes
3answers
6k views

How was 'Sundae' derived from 'Sunday'?

On Sunday, April 3,2011, Google displayed a commemorative graphic for the 119th anniversary of the first documented case of the Ice Cream Sunday. (Image comes from: ...
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5answers
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 ...
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1answer
2k views

What does “steenking” mean?

I read some source code and came across this sentence: Hopefully it works, and we don't need no steenking BIOS anyway [...] You see the word "steenking" in there. I traced its origin down to the ...
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2answers
6k views

“Oestrogen” and “oesophagus” — why are they spelled differently in British English?

Within Biology, there are some biological terms that differ in spelling between the British English and American English dictionaries. For example, oestrogen and oesophagus, as well as the word ...
0
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1answer
4k 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
99 views

Why is “batting” spelled with two t's, but “combating” spelled with one?

The "bating" in "combating" is pronounced the exact same way as "batting". It doesn't make sense to me.
2
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0answers
50 views

Usage of Robo vs Robot [closed]

In my job I'm researching about finance management and advisors. There is a class of software called "Robo Advisors". They are not Robot Advisors, but Robo. ...
0
votes
1answer
51 views

Difference between “birth weight” and “birthweight”

Is there any US/UK English difference in the spellings "birth weight" and "birthweight"? In scientific journals, I have found usage of both spellings. E.g., Overall birth weight is not different for ...
0
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2answers
6k views

Is grownup, grown up, or grown-up the correct usage (as a noun)? [closed]

When used as a noun (meaning an adult), is "grownup", "grown up", or "grown-up" more appropriate?
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2answers
4k 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). ...
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votes
2answers
4k views

Is there an online dictionary listing words spelled in reverse?

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 ...
1
vote
0answers
40 views

When did summer lose its capital? [duplicate]

In modern English the seasons spring, summer, autumn and winter, don't start with capital letters. However, it hasn't always been thus. For example, 1667 Milton Paradise Lost iii. 43 ...
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votes
3answers
266 views

Spelling etymology of “-il[l]” words

I've noticed that modern English seems to have a very strong bias at the end of verbs towards the spelling "-ill" (i.e. with a double "l") instead of "-(consonant)-il". The overwhelming majority of ...
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0answers
16 views

Separate or join words [duplicate]

I've read some answers abour when to join two words and when to write them separate, and when to write them with a hyphen. "Username", "user name" or "user-name" Which ...
0
votes
2answers
61 views

Should I use negotiate or negociate? [closed]

There are some word references and debates for "negociate". Anyone knows if both are correct ? Where does the spelling "negociate" comes from ?
0
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1answer
30 views

Capitalisation of “Nature”

Why is "Nature" usually spelt with a capital letter at the beginning in scientific journals? I am mainly referring to life science here, in case this matters. I am not talking about the obvious ...
0
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1answer
48 views

What would be “inquetht”? [closed]

"I thay, misther," expostulat the Hebrew, "shut that bocth. Thmellth like a blooming inquetht." From "Percival Bland's Proxy" by R. Austin Freeman. I can decipher it as "I say, Mister," ...
5
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3answers
141 views

Evaluable vs. Evaluatable

How do we describe "something that can be evaluated"? My first thought was "evaluatable", since we have inflate -> inflatable debate -> debatable equate -> equatable However, ...