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39
votes
1answer
3k 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
527 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: ...
19
votes
5answers
7k 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
703 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
14k 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?
14
votes
6answers
4k 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. ...
3
votes
4answers
4k views

How are diminutives formed in recent English words?

A large variety of suffixes were used to form diminutives in English. The Wikipedia page on diminutives shows these: * -k/-ock/-uck: balk, bollock, bullock, buttock, fetlock, folk, hark, hillock, ...
9
votes
1answer
2k views

Why is “coon” a word?

The word formation process that yielded the word coon is called (fore-)clipping: raccoon > coon Other examples of fore-clipping include: bot (robot), chute (parachute), roach (cockroach), coon ...
5
votes
16answers
7k 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
3k 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
691 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
2k views

Word form dictionary/system/tool

Is anyone aware of any word form dictionary available (online): If we were to take a common word. For example: eat Then you would have the following: Present: eat Simple past: ate Past ...