For those of you who’ve been following my occasional series about homophonous affixes (or, to put it another way, word-endings and -beginnings that sound the same when spoken!), you should now know your -ables from your -ibles and be proficient in fore- versus for- or four. There are plenty more similar-sounding affixes, though, so I thought […]
I’ve mentioned before that the grammatical ‘rules’ about which many of us care most passionately often differ from person to person (and, of course, they also change over time). We all have our own particular pain threshold: I get inordinately ratty when apostrophes are misused, as evidenced by the fact that I can’t even resist […]
When I blogged last year about relative pronouns, I promised to return to the distinction between who and whom another time. Ta-da! That time has arrived! Reading the title above, some of you may ask: what debate? Many folk live their lives quite happily without hardly ever letting a ‘whom’ pass their lips, while others […]
One of our readers raised the following useful query a few months ago: What’s the difference between among and amongst? Happy to help! In the spirit of the January sales that are just winding down here in the UK, I thought I’d make this blog a twofer and deal with while and whilst at the […]
Help! I am loosing the will to live with my smartphone! Aargh! I almost lost the will to live when I spotted the above mistake, but simultaneously wished that my Inner Spellchecker would give it a rest, so that I could simply appreciate the content of what I read rather than be distracted by spelling […]
Where do you stand regarding the pronoun, themself? Is it perfectly OK to use it, or do you reckon that it’s beyond the pale? When I blogged about reflexive pronouns a while ago, I promised to revisit this grammatical outsider. Judging by the debate on the Net, themself stirs up much passion, with several pundits […]
Consider the following sentences, all real examples taken from the Oxford English Corpus (OEC). Are the words in bold spelled correctly? ? According to the weather forcast it wasn’t supposed to snow in Birmingham today. ? I’ll never foreget any of you. ? His two sons are twenty-two and forteen years old. Pat yourself on the […]
Let’s start with a positive: there are a few basics of grammar which most native speakers of English have no problems with (hoorah!). For instance, it comes naturally to the majority of us to use a singular verb if only one person or thing is the subject (that is, doing the action) of a sentence […]
- OED birthday word generator: which words originated in your birth year?
- Affect versus effect
- Which classical character are you?
- Grammar myths #2: please miss, can I start a sentence with a conjunction?
- Lie or lay? Laying down the law on some puzzling verbs
- The Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2013 is…
- Compliment or complement?
- Rein or reign? Hold your horses before applying pen to paper…
- Which Jane Austen character are you?
- Which Charles Dickens character are you?
- Henry James, or, on the business of being a thing
- Can -core survive normcore?
- 20 words that originated in the 1920s
- Looking for love… and other popular search terms from 2014 so far
- How do British and American attitudes to dictionaries differ?
- Make mine a double: speaking of twins
- Farmily album: the rise of the felfie
- Language review 2013: from bitcoin to sharknado
- Infographic: a closer look at ‘selfie’
- What the Romans did for us: English words of Latin origin
- Why did Tolkien use archaic language?
Word of the Day: coloratura - elaborate ornamentation of a vocal melody... oxford.ly/1j58Rbq
OED Appeals – can you help to solve the bibliographic mystery? oxford.ly/1gAgxQS
In case you missed it: Word of the Day: maelstrom - a powerful whirlpool in the sea... oxford.ly/1gFc2YV
This time it’s not a word that has the OED team scratching their heads, it’s a source: oxford.ly/1gAgxQS