Tag: grammar

Video: acronyms and initialisms – what’s the difference?

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auger_words beginning with n

Apron, adder, and other words that used to begin with ‘n’…

The words app and nap might rhyme, but to say they sound exactly the same is quite clearly wrong. Well, it is quite clearly wrong until you precede them with the indefinite article. There is nothing (apart from context) to distinguish an app from a nap in spoken English, unless you rather take your time […]

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bastion

Hark! Is that the sound of bastions crumbling?

Shock, horror! The BBC, once revered as a paragon of correct English, seems to have slipped from its pedestal of late. Many people (including me, as I blogged about here) have become increasingly irritated or concerned by our national broadcaster’s lapses from the norm when it comes to English grammar, usage, and pronunciation. Is this […]

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texting

Definitely versus defiantly – is there a difference?

The simple answer to that question: yes, there’s definitely a distinction between these words, but it’s most unlikely that there’s anything defiantly different about them! A slight spelling digression…  Up till now, I’d always reckoned that the main trouble people had with the word definitely was that they tended to misspell it as definately or […]

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compound nouns

Cupboards and bro hugs: investigating compound words

The new words update for August is out, and some of you might have noticed that a few of the new words look suspiciously like there are two of them (I’m looking at you, air punch, bro hug, and spit take). That’s because, in dictionary terms, a word is something that conveys a single unit of […]

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magazines pile

Why do we need grammar?

It’s not often that the word ‘inspiring’ is used to describe a day of grammar talks, but I was not the only one to think so at last week’s English Grammar Day at the British Library. With a queue out the door and tickets sold out, it’s clear that grammar’s back. After years of conspicuous […]

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Oxford Dictionaries Community

Introducing the Oxford Dictionaries Community

What is the Community? Have you ever wondered how to use the Oxford comma, or what the French equivalent of Bob’s your uncle is? Do you want to discuss selfie, semi-colons, and subclauses? Are there, in fact, questions about language you’ve always wanted to ask, and linguistic topics you’ve been longing to discuss? As you […]

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Advise or advice

Advise or advice?

What’s the difference between advise and advice? Do you know? Does it matter? Well, yes, it does, because apart from the obvious fact that one has the ending -ise and the other -ice, there’s a highly significant distinction: one’s a verb and one’s a noun. These grammatical and spelling differences involve a related semantic one […]

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