Category: Grammar and writing help

Video: ‘enquire’ or ‘inquire’?

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Media began its linguistic life as the Latin plural of medium.

What is the plural of media?

Media began its linguistic life as the Latin plural of medium. The latter entered English in the late 16th century and developed as a countable noun with a range of meanings. So what then, is the plural of media? Just as happens with many other Latin words which are now established in English (such as aquarium and optimum), it turns out that […]

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Should you use while or whilst?

While or whilst?

So should you be using while or whilst? First, some history: the word while was first recorded in Old English and it can be used as a noun, a verb, a relative adverb, a conjunction, or a preposition. Whilst is a later form and was first evidenced in the late 14th century. Whilst is more limited in scope than while, and can only be used as a conjunction […]

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Hand writing in notebook with pen and paper balls

Your vs. you’re

Similar to other pairs like whose and who’s, the pairing you’re and your often causes confusion. In fact, it’s not hard to find hundreds of mistakes bearing this out in the Oxford English Corpus, a collection of examples drawn from around the Internet. Those your vs you’re mistakes include the following: X You wanted sumptuous and […]

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

Whose vs. who’s

Apostrophes often get people into trouble, so it’s no surprise that people often struggle with whose vs. who’s. 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 like Anne, […]

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back-formations

The hypocrisy of hating back-formations

Does the verb incent make you grind your teeth? Can you cope with enthuse? Does spectate rankle? There are plenty of purported language purists in the world with a professed distaste for back-formations; those who would much rather stick with provide with an incentive, express enthusiasm, and be a spectator. Do they have a point? […]

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A dog is wreaking havoc in the kitchen.

‘Wreak havoc’ or ‘wreck havoc’?

The harsh Southwest sun can wreak havoc on a wood deck. Last summer’s hot, dry weather wrecked havoc on soybean seed production. Do you know which one is correct? English speakers often confuse ‘wreak havoc’ with ‘wreck havoc’. The confusion is more than understandable: both words are nearly homophones (they sound alike) and also are spelled […]

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Video: ‘that’ or ‘which’?

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