Questions tagged [orthography]

This tag is for questions concerning the written representation of the English language, especially spelling and word breaks (including hyphenation).

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5
votes
2answers
2k views

Is there any rhyme or reason to when one should double the last consonant when adding -ed or -ing? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: focussed or focused? The double consonant Sometimes, final consonants are doubled when adding -ed or -ing to the end of a verb whose penultimate letter is a vowel. stop → ...
10
votes
1answer
50k views

What is the meaning of “atleast” and is it different from “at least”?

I don't think atleast is an actual word, but I've found many instances of its usage. A simple google search for atleast reveal 13,100,000 hits. What is the meaning of atleast and is it different ...
31
votes
2answers
18k views

When do you use “learnt” and when “learned”?

Is learnt UK English and learned US? Is it that simple? I’m used to using learnt, but my US spellchecker says it is wrong.
38
votes
7answers
112k views

“Focussed” or “focused”? Rules for doubling the last consonant when adding -ed

Initially, my question was: is "focussed" or "focused" the correct past tense of "focus", but since this applies to a lot of words, I would like to generalize and ask: is there supposed to be a rule ...
58
votes
3answers
92k views

What’s the rule for adding “-er” vs. “-or” when forming an agent noun from a verb?

What’s the rule to decide whether you add -er or whether you add -or when creating an agent noun from a verb? Sometimes it’s -er: read > reader hate > hater hit > hitter But other times it’s -...
15
votes
2answers
13k views

“Oestrogen” and “oesophagus” — why are they spelled differently in British English?

Within Biology, there are some biological terms that differ in spelling between the British English and American English dictionaries. For example, oestrogen and oesophagus, as well as the word ...
29
votes
2answers
99k views

“Successfull”/“successful” — is this a UK/US difference? [closed]

I would tend to write double-l, but Google gives me more single-l, so I'm guessing it's an Atlantic divide thing. And I guess all the other *full words.
0
votes
0answers
372 views

“into” vs. “in to”

What's the difference?
144
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5answers
23k views

Why is “cannot” spelled as one word?

Why is “cannot” spelled as one word whereas other similar constructions such as “do not,” “will not,” “shall not,” “may not” and “must not” are spelled as two words (unless they are contracted as “don’...
7
votes
1answer
1k views

How did the “double consonant to shorten vowel” thing come about? (“furry” vs. “fury”)

In English, a doubled consonant most commonly means "shorten the previous vowel", where "shorten" means map phonemes like this: [aɪ] -> [i] [oʊ] -> [ɔ] etc For example, fury is pronounced [fjʊri] ...
3
votes
3answers
2k views

“semi transparent”, what is used in between?

How do you write the word semi transparent (meaning partially transparent)? semitransparent semi-transparent semi transparent I found each of them on the Internet and none of them in my English ...
15
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4answers
364k views

Which spelling is correct: “benefiting” or “benefitting”?

Which spelling is correct: benefiting or benefitting?
9
votes
1answer
39k views

Signalling or signaling? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When is “L” doubled? Most of the spell checkers are correcting it to be single l, from the other side many official technical documents/standards are using double ...
43
votes
3answers
29k views

“Time zone” vs. “Timezone”

My spell checker shows that both "time zone" and "timezone" are correctly spelled. Which one of these is the correct one to use?
1
vote
2answers
39k views

Independance or Independence?

What other words are like "independence" in British English where you replace the 'a' with an 'e'?
131
votes
3answers
163k views

What is the plural form of “zero”?

I tried looking on Google, but there are some fairly contradictory results. I thought I'd ask you guys so we could get an authoritative answer on the subject!
15
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3answers
3k views

Descriptivism and widespread misspelling

If you search google for "fuscia" it asks "did you mean fuschia?". The correct spelling of the word is "fuchsia". (This was pointed out on the xkcd blog a while ago.) So enough people are spelling ...
10
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2answers
21k views

Why isn't “citizen” spelled as “citisen” in British English?

In British English vocabulary, most words with "z" are spelled with "s". For example, "capitalization" is "capitalisation", "industrialization" is "industrialisation". But for some words, like "...
55
votes
1answer
336k views

Is there an apostrophe in a master's degree?

The question asks it all really. When referring to a master's degree, do you use an apostrophe or not? That is, is it "a master's" or "a masters"?
15
votes
2answers
27k views

Is “succonded” a real word?

I've seen the word succonded used on several websites, but can't find a definition anywhere. I believe it may have to do with "being assigned to". Can anybody point me to a dictionary definition – ...
32
votes
4answers
11k views

Plural of an initialism that ends with the letter S [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What is the correct way to pluralize an acronym? I was answering something on Super User and wrote OSes as part of my normal flow without really thinking about it. On a re-...
16
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5answers
132k views

“Y'all” or “ya'll”?

I've seen it spelled both ways. Are both correct?
59
votes
7answers
28k views

When did it become correct to add an “s” to a singular possessive already ending in “‑s”?

According to my grammar book, but at variance to the answer to this question, the correct singular possessive if a word ends in ‑s is: James’s car The grammar book allows exceptions for historical ...
28
votes
5answers
872 views

Is it Web site or website?

Future Perfect's "Is it Web site or website?" states: Since the World Wide Web is a proper noun, we use initial upper-case letters, as we would with your surname, for example. As for ...
32
votes
4answers
3k views

Possessive of a word that is already possessive

If the cricket ground Lord's is a possessive, what if you want to describe something belonging to Lord's? Would you say: I was very impressed by Lord's's customer services. It doesn't look right, ...
23
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2answers
1k views

“License” and “licence”

What is the difference between license and licence? Are both variations accepted in US and UK?
34
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7answers
186k views

What's the difference between “adviser” and “advisor” — are both interchangeable?

I work for a financial services provider and we deal with "Financial Advisors" all the time. Increasingly, I'm seeing people send emails and so forth with the term "Financial Adviser" and the terms ...
7
votes
1answer
33k views

Why are the past and present tenses of “read” spelt the same?

and only have different pronunciations?
11
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2answers
16k 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 "...
283
votes
1answer
364k views

When should I use an em-dash, an en-dash, and a hyphen?

I generally know how to use a hyphen, but when should I use an en-dash instead of an em-dash, or when should I use a hyphen instead of an em-dash?
18
votes
3answers
1k views

Why is “definitely” so frequently typoed?

Definitely seems to be one of the most frequently typoed words in written English on the Internet, enough to bring somebody to create d-e-f-i-n-i-t-e-l-y.com. Simon Google says, in a completely ...
99
votes
14answers
80k views

“Email” or “e-mail”?

Which way of writing the word: "Email" or "e-mail" is correct? Both variants seem to be in wide use. If both ones are okay, maybe there is a difference in contexts they have been used (one is more ...
17
votes
5answers
26k views

Is the proper spelling “judgment” or “judgement”?

I always thought the proper spelling was  judgment, but I see  judgement all the time, even in articles, news, etc. Merriam-Webster lists  judgement as a variant spelling for judgment. But is the ...
3
votes
6answers
3k views

What mnemonics help solve common linguistic issues?

Example: i before e, except after c. Are there mnemonic devices to help remember other spelling and grammar issues? Bonus points for pointing out exceptions to the rule.
6
votes
3answers
148k views

Should the words “city”/“state”/“province” be capitalized (if not followed by the name of the city)?

When referring to an entity like a government body, should it be capitalized if referring to is by classification(?). E.g., if I write: The City of New York requires us to get a building permit. ...
5
votes
6answers
4k views

What is the longest word you can come up with that the letters are all in alphabetical order?

It's Friday again, how about some fun to get us into the weekend? What is the longest word you can come up with for which all the letters in that word are in alphabetical order? Rules: English ...
6
votes
3answers
15k views

When should you use “then” and when “than”?

As far as I know, then is used in a conjunction and in time-related sentences; than in all other cases. I believe that these are correct: Because I'm older than she, I should be the first chosen; I ...
5
votes
5answers
1k views

Is “denormalized” a word?

I use it all the time since I work with databases, but every time I write it somewhere with spell check I get the squiggly line below it. I've seen other people spell it with an "s" instead of a "z" ...
35
votes
7answers
25k views

Are the endings “-zation” and “-sation” interchangeable?

What is with words that have forms that end both in -zation and -sation, such as localization and localisation? Many spell checkers recommend -zation.
56
votes
12answers
126k views

“Synced” or “synched”

Which is correct: synced or synched? Is one of these American and the other British spelling or are they interchangeable? I have only ever seen sync used in the computing industry.
29
votes
6answers
3k views

What is the best way to explain how to choose between “its” and “it's”?

Probably one of the most frequent grammar mistakes in the English language is: The dog sat on it's mat. Since spelling checkers don't catch it, and it is even logical, since you would correctly ...
47
votes
10answers
138k views

Is there a standard ordering for the question mark and the exclamation mark used together?

We've all wanted to express certain questions, rhetorical or not, with annoyance, excitement, surprise, frustration and so on. What better way than with both a question mark (?) and an exclamation ...
287
votes
10answers
193k views

What is the correct way to pluralize an acronym?

For example, if I wanted to write the equivalent of There are many automated teller machines in this city. Would it be There are many ATMs in this city. or There are many ATM's in this ...
19
votes
3answers
5k views

Why is Q used in some words instead of K or C

For instance in words Iraq and Qashqai? Are there any historical reasons for that?
5
votes
2answers
39k views

“Each person's car” vs. “each persons' car” [closed]

Which of the following is correct? Each person's car has four wheels. Each persons' car has four wheels.
52
votes
2answers
23k views

When is “L” doubled?

Some verbs can have double Ls in the gerund form; for example: modeling; modelling traveling; travelling Which form should we use, or which form is used more in the literature?