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21
votes
2answers
3k views

Why is it true that “I before E, except after C”?

I almost hesitate to ask this, because it is hard to believe no one else asked it; but it isn't showing up in the "similar titles" list. What is special about 'C' that switches the 'IE' immediately ...
13
votes
2answers
2k views

Why does the 'b' in absorb change to a 'p' in absorption?

The question pretty much says it all. Why is "absorbtion" an incorrect spelling?
10
votes
1answer
4k views

When should a singular word ending in “y” end in “ies” plurally?

Words like "sky" and "money" have "ies" as a plural suffix (i.e. "skies" and "monies") but other words like "monkey" and "Emmy" do not ("monkeys" and "Emmys"). Is there a rule dictating the use of ...
9
votes
5answers
1k views

Are there any “-nk-” or “-nc-” words in English where there isn't a “ng” before the “k” sound?

In words like think and lank, we actually seem to be saying "thing-k" and "lang-k." Can anyone thing-k of any words or rules for sound use where this doesn't happen?
8
votes
7answers
3k views

What's wrong with “We hope you will find our Qualifications to be well-organized, concise, and most of all, to exceed your expectations.”

Why is the following sentence grammatically incorrect? We hope you will find our Qualifications to be well-organized, concise, and most of all, to exceed your expectations. I've asked three ...
8
votes
1answer
1k 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 ...
7
votes
4answers
4k 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 ...
6
votes
6answers
3k views

Use of the superlative when only two items are present

When speaking with my mother a couple of days ago, I read to her a message I was sending to my cousin on her behalf ending with: "... the birthday of your youngest." [implying her child] She ...
6
votes
1answer
739 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

Problem with -ance/-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 ...
6
votes
2answers
3k views

Correct usage of ‘on’, ‘at’ and ‘in’ from a foreigner’s point of view

As a foreign English speaker who never really studied too much English grammar other than the basics at high school, I am often struggling to use the correct form in certain phrases. At being ...
5
votes
3answers
178 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
686 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"?
5
votes
2answers
165 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
362 views

Job requirements. Why do they write words with capital letters within sentences?

I noticed the capitalization within sentences. For example, Great experience in Java, Android SDK with core knowledge of Object Oriented Programming principles and Design Patterns. Is there a ...
4
votes
1answer
192 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. ...
4
votes
1answer
159 views

“E” at the end of words to make a word

I was wondering about adding an e at the end of a word to change it from a noun to a verb. For example. cloth to clothe, and breath to breathe. My question here is if this is some special rule, or a ...
4
votes
0answers
51 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
306 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
312 views

Character vs Charm - Pronunciation

Is there a rule to understand how the group "Cha" has to be pronounced? "Character" sounds with a hard first syllable, while "Charm" sound softer, but I don't find how to tell which sound to use ...
3
votes
2answers
267 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
579 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
votes
1answer
117 views

What are the implicit rules for creating new portmanteaux in English?

Wikipedia defines a portmanteau1 as: “Portmanteau word” is used to describe a linguistic blend, namely “a word formed by blending sounds from two or more distinct words and combining their ...
2
votes
7answers
1k 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
votes
1answer
69 views

Suffered from vs suffered

When should I use from? Example: His company suffered a setback. Vs His company suffered from a setback. She suffered from a heart attack. Vs She suffered a heart attack I realise that sometimes ...
2
votes
3answers
396 views

Is “recyclist” a word?

If you are a person who avidly recycles, are you a recyclist?
2
votes
3answers
1k views

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 ...
2
votes
1answer
42 views

In a combination of two vowels (such as “ae”), what rule determines if the first (“a”) or second (“e”) is silent?

In a combination of two vowels (such as "ae"), what English rule determines if the first ("a") or second ("e") is silent? For example, in the word "praetor", the vowel "a" is silent but in the word ...
2
votes
1answer
438 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..." ...
2
votes
1answer
102 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
174 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 ...
1
vote
5answers
848 views

Is the “an” rule applied when a sum of money is in between? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When should I use “a” vs “an”? I have recently seen this image: Should "a" have been used instead of "an" in the "...an $100,000 apartment" ...
1
vote
2answers
5k views

In which type of situations we can use “I Were”?

In some situations, we can use "were" with "I" although its grammatically wrong. But somehow it's being used many times, I don't know the situations any idea guys??
1
vote
2answers
93 views

Use of “either/or” in a negative phrase

I'm not sure if a sentence I wrote is correct: "The last one didn't get neither my changes nor thiago's". I'm trying to say that the last activity I ran in a system didn't get the changes I sent ...
1
vote
2answers
83 views

Is there a grammar rule that defines the properties of a legally accepted word [closed]

I would like to know if there is a grammar rule(s) that defines whether a word is gramatically legal or not. I understand a word is given meaning by a human and anyone can give meaning to anything. ...
1
vote
2answers
3k views

Rules of thumb on using the correct tense forms and auxiliary verbs

For example, when using "since", you should use "present perfect": Mr Smith _ _ _ the company since 1990. runs has run is running ran Is there any reference on similar rules, ...
1
vote
2answers
68 views

Usage of “go to” vs “go”

I'm trying to explain the difference between "go to" and "go" and I'm not sure what the actual rule is. I've tried searching about it, but I couldn't find anything. When should I use "go to" and when ...
1
vote
1answer
457 views

How to guess the pronunciation of some inconsistencies in English?

I’m not a native English speaker, and I have a lot of problems when is comes to pronouncing words like archive, archon, zealot, heal, health. Why is the ch sometime pronounced like a k? Why is the ...
1
vote
4answers
436 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
1k 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 ...
0
votes
5answers
225 views

An entire Novel without verbs? [closed]

I thought there has to be a verb in every sentence, but apparently there exists an entire novel with no verbs! How is that possible? Am talking about The Train from Nowhere by Michel Dansel. The ...
0
votes
3answers
3k views

What are the words where “-ei-” (except in “-cei-”) is pronounced as [i:]?

The rule is that "ei" is pronounced as [i:] only after letter c (or what is pronounced as [i:] is written as "ei" after letter "c" only). There are exceptions, that I could find so far, like ...
0
votes
3answers
2k views

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 ...
0
votes
3answers
575 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 ...
0
votes
3answers
115 views

Payed or paid, is there a rule for this change in vowels?

Why do some verbs combine the "y" and the "e" in the past tense, while others retain "ye"? For example, pay to paid, but flay to flayed? Is there a rule for this change? Any help would be ...
0
votes
1answer
296 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?"
0
votes
1answer
135 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
390 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 ...
0
votes
0answers
26 views

Using an answer to comment on real answers [migrated]

In http://english.stackexchange.com/a/140870/71820 the answer was used to comment on the usefulness of the actual answers so was criticised and suggestion made that it should have been a comment, not ...
0
votes
0answers
312 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 ...