Questions about the rules of English. This tag is overly broad and discouraged.

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3answers
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When the plural ends in “-ies”, how do I know whether the singular ends in “-y” or “-ie”? [closed]

my question is how am I supposed to recognize a singular form of a noun which plural form ends with "ies"? As you can see "cookies" are a "cookie" when singular, but at the same time "flies" stand for ...
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1answer
876 views

Is downtown an adverb of place? [duplicate]

What is the explanation for why we say "I'm going downtown" instead of "I'm going to downtown?"
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2answers
519 views

Which word is technically correct in English: debrick or unbrick?

With certain electronic devices if you make a mistake you can brick (used as a verb) the device, so it ends up in a defunct state. So the device ends up being bricked. What is the correct term to ...
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3answers
759 views

Is “recyclist” a word?

If you are a person who avidly recycles, are you a recyclist?
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1answer
402 views

Comma Rules: Conflicting Rules Concerning the Setting Off of Commas

I've got a sentence where the independent clause is in the front, a contrasting phrase follows, and then a simile is made to modify or elaborate the contrasting phrase. I am wondering where commas ...
2
votes
1answer
131 views

Proper apostrophe usage? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What is the proper way to write the plural of a single letter? (another apostrophe question) Plurals of acronyms, letters, numbers — use an apostrophe or not? Take for ...
4
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0answers
56 views

Standardization authority [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Regulatory bodies and authoritative dictionaries for English Where do accents and dialects come from? I can run faster than _. (1) him (2) he? If the English language is ...
0
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0answers
612 views

Words for people who do things: “-er” or “-or” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What’s the rule for adding -er vs. -or when nouning a verb? Rules for nominalizing a verb While reading another question, I started wondering if there's a rule for ...
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1answer
448 views

Authoritative source on the diaeresis trema rule [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “Whereäs” as an alternative spelling of “whereas” I've got an impression that there is (or was) a rule in English: If you have a rarely ...
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2answers
251 views

Does use-mention distinction warrant breaking conventions?

Does use-mention distinction sometimes warrant breaking the following capitalization and punctuation conventions? American convention recommends placing punctuation within quote marks. Sentences ...
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4answers
7k views

“-ee” and “-er” word endings

There are a few examples of pairs of words ending with -ee/-er like employee and employer or advisee and adviser. What I was curious about is if there was any rule that would describe the relationship ...
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2answers
19k views

Me too or I as well [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Is it correct to use “me too” and “I too”? Which one is correct to use Me too or I as well? For example - Suppose my friend says I want to go ...
5
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3answers
223 views

Using “allium” as an adjective

I’d like to use the Latin word for garlic, allium, as an adjective, but can’t find any examples of this being done. Is there a rule for doing this with nouns ending in ‑um? Alliumnal sounds good, but ...
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3answers
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Where can I find a list of capitalisation rules for pure British writing?

Is there any quality English orthography book that contains rules for capitalising in pure British English? I’ve noticed that an American newspaper capitalises every word in the title of an article ...
5
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3answers
1k views

Abbreviating names that start with a vowel

What are the rules about abbreviating names that start with a vowel? Would abbreviating "Alanis Morissette" to "A. Morissette" be correct or should it be "Al. Morissette"?
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3answers
1k views

Guardrail vs Guard rail

I'm at odds with a colleague of mine over the correct spelling of the above title words. My stance is that they could BOTH possibly be correct. My question specifically is.... Could one spelling be ...
6
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1answer
351 views

What is the origin of the rule for omitting the suffix of a hyphenated word?

I can't remember where or how, but I was taught that one can/should omit the post-hyphen (suffix?) part of a word if it is being grouped with another hyphenated word with the same post-hypen portion. ...
3
votes
1answer
988 views

Is metathesis correct?

Pronouncing asterisk as asterix /æstərɪks/ is called metathesis. Some common examples of this phenomenon that I have heard are ask -> aks and introduce -> interduce /ɪntərˈdjuːs/. So this ...
3
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2answers
380 views

Why do “able” and “haste” have long a's?

(There are others, such as table, paste, and baste.) The rule I've heard is that a vowel is made long when succeeded by a consonant and then another vowel. Some words treat double consonants as a ...
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7answers
2k views

Who/What decides if a word is “proper” English?

I was taught since kindergarten that "ain't" isn't a proper English word. I was wondering, who determines which words are acceptable and which words are not? Do words ever go from "improper" to ...
2
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2answers
231 views

Is there a fully defined way to pluralize/unpluralize words in English?

I'm wondering if there is a way, given an arbitrary word and without knowing the meaning, to switch it from plural to non-plural form and back? I know the common case is the trailing s, such as ...
6
votes
1answer
1k views

Zero conditional form

Chatting with a colleague we came a cross a dilemma (as we are not English native), which of the following sentences are wrong? Why? If I knew everything, I'd be a genius. If I know everything, I'd ...
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1answer
2k views

Why is 'that' sometimes optional before dependent clauses?

Sometimes, the word 'that' to introduce a dependent clause is optional. For example, these sentences both make sense with or without 'that': Long books [that] religious people like tend to be ...
2
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1answer
635 views

Overusing “and” and how to fix it

Several months ago, I was writing a fan-fiction story set in the Sonic the Hedgehog universe and I ended up constructing this sentence: "...Sonic and his allies and Dr. Robotnik and his allies..." ...
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4answers
1k views

Constructions like “A good shot” [closed]

Is anyone aware of a rule behind which nouns can be combined with a preceding "a good" to become an adjectival phrase. For example "He's a good shot" meaning he has good aim. How many more examples ...
2
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1answer
2k views

Ending a clause with a preposition, rule of thumb or hard rule? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When is it okay to end a sentence in a preposition? So we've all heard the admonishments from our teachers not to end a clause with a preposition A plumber visits a ...