March 22, 2011  •  Hairy Scot

“I’ve got” vs. “I have”

Is there not a redundancy in the use of “got” with “have”? Why say “I have got” or “I’ve got” when “I have” conveys the exact meaning? The same would be true of its use in the second or third person.

March 20, 2011  •  Steph

The taller of her and...

In the sentence “Karen is the taller of her and Lin”, why is the pronoun ‘her’ used (as opposed to ‘she’)? I would have thought that, since Karen is the subject of the sentence, the appropriate pronoun would be ‘she’? This sentence comes out of the Institute of Professional Editors Accreditation Exam, so I can only assume that it is correct. Thanks to anyone who can help!

March 18, 2011  •  Dyske

It’s Official: email not e-mail

The AP Stylebook today announced that electronic mail is now spelled without a hyphen: email. Finally. I personally haven’t used “e-mail” in about a decade. We have a thread here on this topic of how to properly spell email. At the time, I commented that it may take another 10 years for this to settle, but it took less than a year!

March 9, 2011  •  pebbles

Past Perfect vs. Past Tense

The following sentence is taken from Advanced English CAE:  Within seconds Barry, who was wearing enormous rubber boots, had tied a rope to the front bumper of the car and was pulling it out with the tractor. I’d say:  Within seconds Barry, who was wearing enormous rubber boots, tied a rope to the front bumper of the car and pulled it out with the tractor.  Any opinions?

March 9, 2011  •  joham

“I recommend that you do not” vs. “I recommend you not”

I recommend that you do not take this pill. I recommend that your wife does not take this pill. I recommend that you not take this pill. I recommend that your wife not take this pill. Are all four sentences correct English? Do many native American/British English speakers use verb forms like in the first two sentences?

March 7, 2011  •  sigurd

Rules for -ise and -ize

How does one know exactly when a word is supposed to end with -“ise” vs -“ize” in Oxford spelling?

February 19, 2011  •  pje

to-day, to-night

I have seen to-day and to-night used in literature up to the 1920′s. When and why did this become obsolete?

February 15, 2011  •  sigurd

i’s vs “i”s

I’ve dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s.I’ve dotted the “i”s and crossed the “t”s. Which of the foregoing examples is correct?

February 10, 2011  •  alysondraper

gifting vs. giving a gift

When did we stop “giving” presents, and instead started to “gift” presents?  I was taught that “gift” was a noun and not a verb, but it appears it is now used as the preferred verb to indicate the giving of a gift.

February 10, 2011  •  alysondraper

“graduated high school” or “graduated from high school”?

Is it really proper to say “I graduated high school,” or should it not be, “I graduated from high school?” Previously, I thought only rednecks were able to “graduate high school.”

February 9, 2011  •  dbfreak

cannot vs. can not

The first spelling/grammatical mistake I always see, even in journals is the spelling for cannot. Cannot must be one word, just like today and tomorrow! But, I see so many can nots!! You can still grammatically use can not in some contexts, like Can you not shake your leg when I’m in the room? You can just not shake, ok? -> You can not shake it. As in, you can choose to not shake it rather than you being unable, incapable of shaking! But that’s not the context they use in those darn journals!

February 9, 2011  •  cancuckft

Use of “Referenced”

Am I the only person in the world who finds the ubiquitous misuse of the verb “reference” to be incredibly annoying? Where did the use of “reference” rather than “refer to” start? I realise that the definition can skirt close to this usage, but I maintain that it is a misuse.

February 8, 2011  •  Hairy Scot


The word signage seems to keep popping up more and more and it would seem that in the majority of cases it is being used as the plural of sign and increasingly is perceived as a “clever” alternative to that plural. The OED states: Chiefly N. Amer. Signs collectively, esp. public signs on facia boards, signposts, etc.; the design and arrangement of these.

February 1, 2011  •  sigurd

Is there a gustative equivalent to the olfactory “malodour”?

Is there a gustative equivalent to the olfactory word “malodour”? Is there a lexical, not imaginary, word that means anything that tastes bad just like “malodour” means anything that smells bad?

January 31, 2011  •  mart


Can the term ‘self-confessed’ be correct? I read it last week and it’s been bugging me ever since. Surely the only way to confess is to do it personally? Can someone else confess to my crime or secret? The ‘self’ part is redundent. Then I thought it might come from a police background. If someone is about to be questioned and they confess without any probing I can see how ‘self-confessed’ could make sense, as they were not forced to confess by interrogation. But it still feels like saying ‘cold ice’ to me!

January 30, 2011  •  Hairy Scot

Correct preposition following different?

I am sure most of us will agree that “from” is the only preposition which should follow the word “different”. However it would be interesting to hear logical argument from those who favour others such as “to” and “than”.

December 24, 2010  •  sam2

Difference between “lying” and “misleading”

If you lie to someone, have you necessarily misled them?

November 15, 2010  •  Dyske

Does “Who knows” need a question mark?

On the Web, the majority seems to think we need a question mark in the following context: Q: “What is the meaning of life?” A: “Who knows?” I disagree. I consider “who knows” as a phrase or an expression, not a question; not even a rhetorical question. Adding a question mark sort of ruins the response especially in writing because it sets up an expectation (or subtle tension) of further response. A period, I feel, is the right choice because it’s a complete answer. In speech, we would not pronunce “Who knows” as if we are really asking a question; that is, our tone is missing the question mark. What do you think?

October 18, 2010  •  spencer

Stymie and stifle

How popular is the word stymie? Is it possible that it derives from the word stifle?

October 14, 2010  •  justinforce

Accepted spellings, punctuation, and capitalization of email

We’re arguing in the office. Help us get this straight once and for all. You could boil the question down to this: how would you write this title? “email Is Destroying Our Children” email or e-mail? Do you capitalize the E if it’s at the beginning of a sentence or part of a title? Do you capitalize the M if it’s at the beginning of a sentence or part of a title? If so, do you only do this when it’s hyphenated?

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