This tag is for questions specifically related to written English.

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7
votes
2answers
6k views

To hyphenate or not?

As a non-native speaker of English and an engineer by training, I always get confused about hyphenation and almost always end up referring to Google every time I need to make that decision. Does ...
22
votes
5answers
24k views

What is the best format to use when writing out dates?

What format of date is appropriate for different contexts (business, personal) in written English, nowadays? 1st of April, 2010 April the 1st, 2010 April 1, 2010 April 01, 2010 another one
3
votes
4answers
3k views

Is it “a SSD” or “an SSD”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicates: an SQA or a SQA? Do you use “a” or “an” before acronyms? Since SSD (solid-state drive) is pronounced es-es-dee, I'm wondering whether one ...
41
votes
9answers
6k views

Why, in old books, are dates often given with the years redacted?

silly question, and I'm not sure this is even necessarily the right forum, but it's the most appropriate on StackExchange, so here we are. Why is it, in older books, that years are sometimes redacted ...
7
votes
2answers
2k views

Capitalization for a bullet list

The following is from some software documentation we are writing: NOTE: Refreshing a report may be necessary or helpful when: you believe the data in the report has changed since it was ...
5
votes
2answers
7k views

What (grammatical) tense to use when doing reference in a paper?

For example, A published a paper with title B in 2000. Then, in my paper: A says / said that [C works / worked out perfectly]. and B illustrates / illustrated that [C works / worked out ...
16
votes
5answers
1k views

How to handle a name that includes an exclamation point (or other punctuation)?

Certain brands, such as Yahoo!, insist that the exclamation is part of their name. In writing about such a brand or company, is the inclusion of the vanity punctuation right, wrong, or optional? I ...
130
votes
15answers
16k views

Do most languages need more space than English?

I saw the following statement on User Experience: Supporting multiple languages can break the user interface, because most languages need more space than english This seems to be a gross ...
21
votes
5answers
11k views

Capitalisation of nouns in English in the 17th and 18th centuries

It seems to have been common practice in the 17th and 18th centuries in Britain to capitalise the first letters of nouns in English, e.g. At which Time he prov'd himself the Noah's Dove, that ...
4
votes
8answers
3k views

Are contractions like “didn't” forbidden in written English? [duplicate]

Possible duplicate of: Using contracted forms (“don't”, “let's”) in a formal text Usage of contractions like “it's” and “that's” in textbooks Should ...
27
votes
6answers
6k views

Is it alright to use lowercase “i” or should you always use “I” (uppercase)?

I frequently edit questions on StackOverflow, and I always fix the "i" into "I". See this edit revision for instance. When i I start my tomcat, i I am getting this problem. How could i I resolve ...
10
votes
2answers
10k views

What are sentences like “the longer X, the more Y” called and can they be used in formal written English?

What is the type of sentence exemplified below called? Is it appropriate to use it in a scientific paper and formal written English in general? 1. The more pronounced the variation, the more ...
21
votes
4answers
1k views

Should you always use the accent in foreign words like “résumé”?

You can see in the aboutCV page of Stackoverflow Careers site that the word resumes is mentioned — not résumés or résumés. What should be the common practice here? What about other words like ...
17
votes
2answers
48k views

Should I write “that being said” (vs. “that's been said” or “Having said that”)?

I often write what "sounds" right (being not a native English speaker/writer), and I believe the expression "that being said" to be fairly common, as opposed to a more complete form like "that's been ...
13
votes
2answers
893 views

The usage of “sic” in writing

I have seen many articles that use quotes from players like: We gonna [sic] be working hard over the summer cause we gotta [sic] get better. What is sic? Where does it come from?
9
votes
5answers
1k views

Is it OK to add a question mark to show inflection?

When asking a question you generally have to raise your voice at the end of the sentence, is it okay to stuff a question mark in order to show inflection? A couple examples: 'That really happened?' ...
8
votes
0answers
416 views

When to use passive and active voice [closed]

When is it better to use passive voice in writing and speech? When is it better to use active voice in writing and speech?
1
vote
5answers
16k views

Official e-mail

How should I begin an official e-mail if I don't know who I am writing to? I mean, normally I would write "Dear x", but when I have to send an e-mail to an institution, what should I write?
1
vote
1answer
642 views

Is it better to write without contractions? E.g. “cannot” instead of “can't” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Using contracted forms (“don't”, “let's”) in a formal text Usage of contractions like “it's” and “that's” in textbooks Should contractions ...
3
votes
4answers
635 views

Is it normal in English to talk about oneself in the third person in these cases?

A Japanese person said that it is often normal to talk about oneself in the third person in English. This is what he wrote: For example, when you write a CV or an introduction of yourself, the ...
6
votes
3answers
2k views

When should you use “Title Case”?

Are there any guidelines for when you should capitalize titles/headings or not? Should you always do this in English? I am referring to A Capitalized Heading vs A capitalized heading
7
votes
8answers
3k views

Can the word “that” be used to refer to people?

I came across this SAT Question of the Day: Unbelievable as it may seem, many individuals that fought in the American Revolution were still alive in 1839, the year the world was introduced to ...
7
votes
1answer
1k views

Question mark usage/position when sentence ends with a declarative quotation?

Who said "I am hungry?" The quotation is not a question, but do I put "my" question mark there anyway? This is related to, but not the same as Position of question mark when sentence doesn't ...
5
votes
3answers
3k views

Usage of italics in writing

In which cases is a word, or a group of words written in italics? Is italics used in specific contexts, or it is quite normal to write words in italics?
0
votes
2answers
727 views

Repeating “to” in a list of verbs connected by “and”

"This group’s main duties are to carry out information systems audits in Colombian banks and to make research and develop new regulations on information technologies and systems in the banking ...
89
votes
7answers
21k views

What the #$@&%*! is that called?

Is there a name for the use of symbols in place of curse words, for example #$@&%*!?
41
votes
7answers
2k views

Which variant of English should I use when my target audience is the world?

I know that all variants of English (American English, British English, etc.) can be generally understood by everybody who knows any of the English variants. However, there are some regionalisms that ...
6
votes
3answers
2k views

Is it correct to write “a 5-mm-thick layer”?

Do I need hyphens? Should I use the indefinite article or zero article?
5
votes
2answers
8k views

How to write date range succinctly and unambiguously in American written English?

How to write date range succinctly and unambiguously in American written English? In a sentence I usually use "from January 1, 1923 through December 31, 1986". But it is too long for use in section ...
5
votes
5answers
17k views

How to add contextualizing text to a quotation?

How do you add text which provides context to a quote? For example, consider if I were to quote someone as having said: This is unacceptable! Were that the whole quote, can I add any text to ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

What are the uses of ellipses in essays? [closed]

I’m wondering about how ellipses are used in essays. Are there any examples that I could see?
4
votes
5answers
744 views

Can you use “(sic)” in other contexts?

In Polish you can use sic to indicate not only erroneous spelling (uncorrected for editorial reasons), but also to note that the sentence should be as it is when it comes to its meaning (e.g. "The ...
2
votes
3answers
1k views

Is the singular “they” acceptable in formal writing? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Is there a correct gender-neutral, singular pronoun (“his” versus “her” versus “their”)? I am linking to this post for reference. ...
2
votes
3answers
1k views

Can “his/her” be replaced by “his”?

Yesterday, I asked this question on Web Apps: If a Facebook user dies, what happens to the account? Actually, I wanted to ask it this way: If a Facebook user dies, what happens to ...
32
votes
6answers
22k views

Use of “I”, “we” and the passive voice in a scientific thesis [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Style Question: Use of “we” vs. “I” vs. passive voice in a dissertation When the first person voice is used in scientific writing it is mostly ...
46
votes
14answers
2k views

If an insertion in parentheses ends with a smiley, how do I distinguish between the two?

I know smileys are not part of written language (yet), and any questions about them are irrelevant to linguistics and are kind of not serious. So take my question with a smiley then. It bugs me ...
18
votes
4answers
17k views

“you” versus “You” as polite form of writing

Is it correct to write "You" with a capital Y as a form of politeness? If yes, should I use that form throughout the entire letter/document, or only at specific places?
14
votes
7answers
48k views

Can “hence” be used at the beginning of a sentence?

Can the word ‘hence’ be used at the beginning of a sentence? For example: Hence, I am not feeling well, I am unable to work.
3
votes
2answers
2k views

What are the rules on when to use commas, colons, semicolons and dashes?

What are the rules on when to use commas, colons, semicolons and dashes?
7
votes
1answer
604 views

What name for bowdlerisation with asterisks (e.g., “f*ck”)?

I have always been intrigued by the English use of asterisks to replace vowels in words considered as offensive, and the reasons it seems somewhat language-specific. My (very related) questions on ...
7
votes
2answers
564 views

How to punctuate lists in general?

(1) How to punctuate lists in general? (2) also, what case to use? In the case study, signal comparison could be used for: • signals from redundant channels of emergency stop button, • output ...
7
votes
7answers
15k views

Is there any rule for the placement of space after and before parenthesis?

I often get stuck when forming or formatting a sentence with one or more parenthesis. For example, I wrote an answer on another stackexchange site, in which I wrote: ...whereas, my phone(xperia ...
6
votes
4answers
12k views

Capitalization of X in “X-ray”

Should the word be written as X-ray or x-ray?
17
votes
4answers
24k views

“Versus” versus “vs.” in writing

In writing, when should one use the abbreviation vs. as opposed to the full versus? This abbreviation seems to have special status from common usage. What is the origin of that, and in what writing ...
10
votes
5answers
2k views

Name and origin of writing with period after each word

It may be limited to the web ecosystem, but I've read a lot of those sentences lately, where each word is followed by a period. Examples: Oh. My. God. Best. Job. Ever. No. F***ing. Way. ...
5
votes
3answers
5k views

Usage of “and” and comma when writing numbers UK style

I am trying to understand the rules for writing numbers in words under the UK rules (with "and"). I understand how to write small numbers (up to a few thousands), but I am not sure when to use "and" ...
2
votes
3answers
3k views

Meaning of various valedictions or closing expressions

Related to, but I believe distinct from, the following questions: What does the "yours" in "yours sincerely" mean? What are some expressions that can be used to end an email? ...
2
votes
3answers
4k views

Using “and” twice in a list

About using and, I've learned it is usually used in lists, between the last two items. For example: I like movies, traveling and going out with friends. Please tell me if the use of and ...
2
votes
1answer
2k views

Usage of “just”, “only” and word-order [intended meaning]

I've got these sentences, which meanings are correct (my interpretations are in brackets): Use of only: (1) Only in 1996, Ford sold a rebadged Mazda 626 GV over here as its rebranded Japanese ...
1
vote
3answers
654 views

Applying/earning/validating leave

When someone attends an event, he will be awarded some additional leave subject to his boss's approval. Therefore, he will need to submit a leave application to his boss for approval. Should I call ...