There are 106 posts.
If you have an insufferable pedant in your life – and if you don’t, consider the blog you’re reading; you may be the insufferable pedant – then you know about the difference between hung and hanged. In the history of English, the verb to hang has traditionally been divided into two different kinds of past […]more
The language we use every day is littered with contractions. Shortened words like I’m, I’ve, I’ll, don’t, won’t, and we’ve have become an accepted part of standard English, and are seen in even the most formal writing and speech. Contractions are as old as the English language itself. When speaking quickly, it is natural to […]more
The short answer is: they both are! Auntie and aunty are informal terms used to describe a person’s aunt, and both spellings are acceptable in everyday language. Our dictionary entry for these words has an informal label: this shows that a word is mainly used in in casual conversation or writing, with friends or people […]more
These two words look very similar. Than can also sound almost the same as then when you pronounce it, because when we speak, we often say /ð(ə)n/ rather than /ðan/. However, than and then are completely different words with different meanings, so if you use the wrong spelling, you might confuse people or fail to […]more
How do you feel about short snappy sentences in ad copy? Do you find them engaging? Or irritating? And what do you think of these opening sentences? OK, I admit it. I’m an advertising copywriter. And I can’t help writing in short sentences. Or starting with a conjunction. Would I have written like this while […]more
How ethical is it to start working in a country where you don’t speak the local language? Before I started teaching English in Poland, this question didn’t trouble me in the slightest. When I taught in Sardinia, I spoke enough Italian to get by; and nobody in Cambodia expected foreign teachers to speak any Khmer […]more
For many students of English, and some native speakers as well, English spelling can be confusing given all the idiosyncrasies and apparent inconsistencies that make up the written language. As Ian Brookes has argued in a previous blog post, the difficulties partly arise from the fact that the spellings of English words reflect their origins […]more