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 […]
Myself and my wife have for some time been amazed at the appalling driving habits of the general population of Grantham. When you read the above sentence, what goes through your mind? Do you think ‘What a perceptive comment, and what an elegant turn of phrase’ or does your internal grammar monitor shriek ‘Eek! Yet […]
- Affect versus effect
- Grammar myths #2: please miss, can I start a sentence with a conjunction?
- Grammar myths #1: is it wrong to end a sentence with a preposition?
- Lie or lay? Laying down the law on some puzzling verbs
- OED birthday word generator: which words originated in your birth year?
- Compliment or complement?
- Principle or principal?
- Rein or reign? Hold your horses before applying pen to paper…
- The Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2013 is…
- What do you call a baby owl and other baby animals?
- Video: acronyms and initialisms – what’s the difference?
- Feeling bright? 8 historical synonyms for ‘clever’
- Gallery: new quotations in the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations
- America’s war on language
- The peculiar history of cows in the OED
- What do you call a group of…
- 20 words that originated in the 1920s
- How do British and American attitudes to dictionaries differ?
- What the Romans did for us: English words of Latin origin
- Why did Tolkien use archaic language?
What is the origin of 'posh'? Our video addresses one theory... oxford.ly/1vRNuVt
Word of the Day: peart - lively; cheerful... oxford.ly/1Fuftu8
ICYMI: Word of the Day: Sprachgefühl - intuitive understanding of a language’s natural idiom… oxford.ly/1yVgZmV
Did you know that 'youngman', 'asmuch', and 'aswell' were all once common words? More on fused words in today's post: oxford.ly/1vhVlZB