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33
votes
3answers
2k views

Origin of “-ing”

What is the origin of the suffix -ing used to form gerunds and present participles? Why is the suffix the same in both cases?
9
votes
2answers
362 views

Is there a rule for when contractions are not possible? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Is there some rule against ending a sentence with the contraction “it's”? In conversing with non-native English speakers online, I saw someone type: ...
18
votes
4answers
4k views

A murder of crows?

I love the subset of collective nouns known as the terms of venery. These are collective nouns specific to a particular group of animals. Some of the more inventive examples are: a murder of crows, a ...
2
votes
2answers
628 views

Why don’t other pronouns get to albe-themselves, à la albeit’s “it”?

YES: "Euthanizing this particular kitten was a traumatic, albeit humane necessity." NO: "The geese, having pooped everywhere, made for hideous pets, albethem delicious as an entree." NO: "Most of the ...
8
votes
1answer
9k views

Why is it “grandfather”, but “great-uncle”?

I know that there are six forms of this word, but "great-uncle" is most common ("great-aunt" has a similar graph). Why is this, if "grandfather" and "grandmother" are common?
13
votes
5answers
2k views

How do you form the 'north' and 'south' versions of 'occident' and 'orient'?

How does one correctly form the "north" and "south" forms for which occident and orient are "west" and "east"? I found boreal and austral, but those look like adjectives and I'm after the nouns. ...
5
votes
16answers
3k views

Is there a word to describe the state of being the only one of something?

I need a word to describe the state of being the only one of something. For context, it's for the UI of a scientific device that detects and analyzes cells. In this particular case, we are talking ...
2
votes
3answers
2k views

Beneficiaries of an action ending with the “-ee” suffix

To refer to the beneficiary or patient of an action, sometimes one can form a word using the verb and the -ee suffix, e.g. assign → assignee employ → employee refuge → refugee On the other hand, ...
1
vote
1answer
250 views

Is 'acronymise/ze' a word? Is it used only colloquially, if at all?

I just sent a text to a friend, who didn't understand an acronym I used for a game: "Ah, I said it in a previous text so thought it was ok to abbreviate it." Though, since it was an acronym I ...