This tag is for questions specifically related to written English.

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126
votes
15answers
15k 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 ...
89
votes
7answers
15k views

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

Is there a name for the use of symbols in place of curse words, for example #$@&%*!?
45
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 ...
41
votes
9answers
5k 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 ...
40
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 ...
31
votes
6answers
20k 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 ...
27
votes
6answers
5k 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 ...
21
votes
6answers
2k views

Are contractions of “I am” or “I would” rude? [closed]

I got edited on Stack Overflow because I used "I'm", "you're" and "I'd" instead of "I am" etc. Is it considered rude to use contractions like that in informal conversations on the internet? I would ...
21
votes
5answers
21k 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
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 ...
20
votes
4answers
10k 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 ...
17
votes
4answers
14k 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?
17
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 ...
16
votes
2answers
5k views

Why is English written and read left to right?

Why is English written and read from left-to-right as opposed to right-to-left, top-to-bottom, or (not even sure any language does this) bottom-to-top?
16
votes
4answers
2k views

What did Old English writing (letters and formatting) typically look like?

I am wondering if there is a specific kind of writing that people would typically associate with Old English language. Are there well-known manuscripts that typically represent the kind of writing ...
16
votes
4answers
18k 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 ...
15
votes
5answers
11k views

How do I emphasize a word using the standard punctuation system?

I've seen people on the Internet stressing a certain word using "*": I do not *like* it, I *love* it! I think there is no such punctuation as "*". So I'm wondering if I can use some other way to ...
14
votes
7answers
19k views

What do all capital letters typically refer to in writing?

In many error messages and conversations, I come across words in all capital letters, as demonstrated in the examples below. ERROR: Please type your e-mail address. or ME: I can't make it ...
14
votes
4answers
1k views

What is it called when words are deliberately written wrong but pronunciation is kept unchanged?

For example, Night -> Nite Nite even appears in some dictionaries as having the same meaning as night. What is it called when words are deliberately written incorrectly but the pronunciation ...
13
votes
7answers
40k 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.
13
votes
2answers
769 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?
13
votes
2answers
42k 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
3k views

Is there a proper name for the 3 asterisks that are used to suggest temporal discontinuity?

For example, when some long prose passage ends, this appears: * * * Then some new prose passage begins. The three asterisks dividing the two prose sections are understood to divide the two ...
12
votes
4answers
258 views

Usage of “|” in English sentences

I have a book about punctuation marks, but it doesn't report when to use | in a English sentence. I notice that the New Oxford American Dictionary uses that character to separate the examples it ...
11
votes
3answers
8k views

Footnote marks at end of a sentence

I find it common in my writing to end up a sentence with a footnote reference mark. Should the footnote mark come before the stop or after it? ... this is some text1. ... this is some text.1
11
votes
5answers
2k views

What do you call a slip of the tongue in writing?

Is there any phrase or word that can be used to describe a slip of the tongue that happens in writing? Calling it a slip of tongue directly feels awkward, especially when the written text is never ...
11
votes
6answers
6k views

Why are numbers sometimes spelled out and then numerals specified as well? [closed]

I'm referring to the peculiar habit I sometimes see in formal documents, where a number is given numerically after it's spelled out. It seems quite redundant: I need five (5) kumquats, stat! ...
11
votes
2answers
5k views

Should I refer to “Section 2.3” or “Subsection 2.3”?

When writing a document that is divided into numbered sections and subsections, sometimes I would like to refer a certain subsection that has been numbered 2.3, for example. Here the 2 represents the ...
10
votes
3answers
451 views

Is it acceptable to use “google” as a verb?

With the popularity and ubiquity of Google, it has become a verb to describe "searching for something online" and it appears in conversations and informal writing. How can I know if it is acceptable ...
10
votes
4answers
431 views

Is there a name for the practice of dropping pronouns in written speech?

I’m specifically thinking about emails I receive all day where someone will write: Haven’t seen it yet. Will respond when received. If it were spoken, we would certainly hear: I haven’t ...
10
votes
4answers
2k views

Should there be a period after an equation?

This isn't a pure English question, but it is about writing style: Sometimes entities that aren't words end up being in sentences. I know that when mathematical expressions are inline as follows: ...
10
votes
2answers
9k 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
461 views

Do listeners understand different adjective orders?

I found Adjective order, but I keep wondering if listeners actually understand what I mean when I don't follow that order. For example, if I say, "a lovely long white coat," I may change it to "a long ...
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. ...
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?' ...
9
votes
2answers
432 views

avoid the slash?

Should the slash be avoided? For example every week/day in my head is translated to every week or day. I think I started using slashes because I saw them used in forums and in articles. Is using ...
8
votes
7answers
10k views

When and how should I use multiple exclamation marks?

Now, I never do this, but in some few cases I have seen people use multiple exclamation (or question) marks like this: Hey!!! Is that grammatically correct? (Or just okay). In case it is, how ...
8
votes
4answers
503 views

Is lolspeak bad English, or just a different English?

Is lolspeak / internet speak (such as "plz send teh codez") bad English, or a different English? I can't really describe what'd be "bad", but a lack of consistency would be an indicator it's bad.
8
votes
5answers
2k views

Does “see you this weekend” in email express “will write another email this weekend”?

Perhaps people will think that I'll physically visit them?
8
votes
4answers
5k views

What is the correct name for posts made on twitter?

Well, I honestly tried to search for this but I drowned in twit* and tweet* results. Should I write: "my tweet" or "my twit"? "I am tweetting" or "I am twitting" ("to twit" vs. "to tweet")? ...
8
votes
4answers
2k views

Is “Mecca” capitalized when used figuratively?

Waleed made his pilgrimage to Mecca. This is a given. But I would write: Bombay is India’s entertainment mecca Is this correct, or is Mecca capitalized in its figurative use, as well?
8
votes
2answers
4k views

Origin of the word “duh”

What is the origin of the word "duh" as in the interjection: — It's hot in the desert. — Well, duh! If it is of onomatopoeic origin and only appears in modern English as some sites suggest, I ...
8
votes
0answers
413 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?
7
votes
8answers
422 views

“flavorx” v.s. “flavors”

I wrote something about the food. And I use flavors for plural flavor, however my foreign English teacher corrected it as flavorx. And he considers that I also should read 'flavors'. I googled the ...
7
votes
2answers
840 views

Plural of “scheme”?

Scheme is the singular form. What is the plural of scheme?
7
votes
8answers
2k 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
2answers
32k views

How should I write a whip sound?

Is it crack? Snap? Wh-tch? Whop-eesh? Alternatively, if I don't use the actual noise. Do I write: The whip rang out? Cracked?
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 ...
7
votes
2answers
755 views

Is it okay to start a sentence with a Greek letter (variable)?

Is it okay to start a sentence with a variable? Do I need to rewrite a sentence just because the subject is typeset as a Greek letter? For example: Φ is treated in a special way. vs. ...
7
votes
1answer
560 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 ...