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 […]
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you may recall that we’ve featured postings on homophones over the past few months, but all of them have been complete words, such as pedal and peddle. Of course, suffixes (word endings) and prefixes (word beginnings) can also sound the same in English, causing no end of […]
Shock horror – Auntie ventures into non-standard English! Call me a dyed in the wool reactionary, but the BBC (familiarly known as ‘Auntie’ because the broadcaster is regarded as the UK’s rather staid maiden aunt) has surprised me twice recently. Firstly, I was shocked to encounter someone saying ‘sh** happens’ at around 11.45 a.m. on […]
I have a twofold career: as well as writing blogs about grammar and usage, I also teach English as a foreign language. Explaining the more arcane and sometimes illogical nuances of English grammar to native and non-native speakers alike can be challenging, but I relish the chance to do so. I’ve found that some people […]
Most of us would agree that English spelling can be a minefield: one reason for this is that there are numerous words which sound the same when you say or hear them but which are spelled differently and which have completely different meanings: a few examples are pour/pore, flower/flour, and sight/site. Such words are known […]
- Affect versus effect
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- Lie or lay? Laying down the law on some puzzling verbs
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- Compliment or complement?
- Rein or reign? Hold your horses before applying pen to paper…
- Principle or principal?
- The Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2013 is…
- Which classical character are you?
- On the radar: July 2014
- Fedoras to mullets: decades of fashion words
- The peculiar history of cows in the OED
- How I created the languages of Dothraki and Valyrian for Game of Thrones
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- 20 words that originated in the 1920s
- How do British and American attitudes to dictionaries differ?
- 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
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Word of the Day: neoteny - retention of juvenile features in the adult animal... oxford.ly/1otYP4w
ICYMI: Word of the Day: internecine - destructive to both sides in a conflict... oxford.ly/1pclL8s
How words are built: combining forms, prefixes, and suffixes... oxford.ly/1n3cmR9
What are dangling participles and how can you avoid them? Find out... oxford.ly/1tZKB03