Catherine Soanes

Catherine Soanes is an ex-lexicographer and EFL teacher.

Articles by Catherine Soanes


Do you know the right choice when it comes to whose vs. who's?

Apostrophes often get people into trouble, so it’s no surprise that people often struggle with whose vs. who’s and whose. Though it is a fairly common error, it is also fairly easy to avoid. X There’s no one whose going to believe in your movie more than you. X  It was not well received by parents […]

railway and train phrases

Terms and phrases from trains and railways

We’ve been letting the train take the strain when it comes to moving ourselves or goods from A to B for around 200 years. Although there were locomotive steam engines (that is, engines that moved as opposed to fixed ones) in operation some years before George Stephenson’s pioneering invention the Rocket was launched in 1829, […]

Into or in to? Learn the rules of splitting them up or keeping them together.

Into or in to

A horse walks into a bar. The barman comes up and says ‘Why the long face?’ I’m rather fond of all those ‘A man/horse/alien etc. walks into a bar’ jokes, aren’t you? Some are particularly amusing, such as the following one, which fellow language-lovers should appreciate: Past, present, and future walked into a bar – […]

Is that the one dark sheep here among or between the others?

Among or between?

Bill and Mark swam among the sunken ships. Bill and Mark swam between the sunken ships. What’s the difference between soup, consommé, and broth? What’s the difference among soup, consommé, and broth? Two questions about the sentences above (you’ll find the answers at the end of this article): Do they have exactly the same meaning? […]

Is it stationary or stationery?

Stationary or stationery?

This pair of confusable homophones (words that sound the same) and near-homographs (words that are spelled the same) causes no end of spelling-related fails: you can spot errors in places as diverse as blogs and online newspapers to scientific writing – no one seems immune! Does this matter? In my view, it does. These words […]

Nautical terms and phrases are hidden everywhere in common English.

Nautical terms and phrases in English

Ahoy, me hearties! When I plumbed the hidden depths of the nautical origins of common English words and phrases last year, I dredged up a treasure chest brimful of material, more than enough for the post I was writing at the time. With thoughts of summer holidays uppermost in many of our minds right now, […]

Passed or past?

Passed or past?

If you’ve ever been confused about using passed and past when writing, your brain cells may benefit from a short workout in the form of this mini-quiz. No punishing press-ups or unforgiving Lycra required – just read the following paragraph, and decide whether the words in bold type use the words passed and past correctly: […]

Should it be one word or two? Is aswell a word? Do you have alot of something?

Alot, along, and away? Or a lot, a long, and a way?

Is there a space between a and lot, or is the spelling alot OK? What’s the difference between away and a way? If you’ve ever pondered over questions similar to these, the dilemma of ‘two words or one?’ is one which you’ll have grappled with when putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. On […]

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