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O vs. oh

In today’s English, oh is an interjection used to express a range of emotions, including pain, sorrow, hesitation, and recognition. Most people will never have use for O, which is used in poetic apostrophe, usually in classical addresses, always preceding the name of or pronoun representing the person being formally addressed.

Examples

Oh is usually set off from its surrounding sentence by commas. If it comes in the middle of a sentence, it doesn’t need to be capitalized. Here are a few examples:


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Let’s call it, oh, I don’t know, an appreciation. [GoErie.com]

That spot is good for, oh, about $11 million during the first two guaranteed season. [Arizona Daily Star]

Oh, I know my kids aren’t mini-saints or perfect angels. [Whittier Daily News]

O is always capitalized, it always immediately precedes the person being addressed, and in modern use it is usually employed to create an archaic tone. Here are a few examples:

Then the angel of Yahweh replied, “O Yahweh of Armies, how long will you not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which you have had indignation these seventy years?” [The World English Bible]

Tell me, O Muse, of that ingenious hero who travelled far and wide after he had sacked the famous town of Troy. [The Odyssey]

O mother of flames, / You who have kept the fire burning! / Lo, I am helpless! / Would God they had taken me with them! [William Carlos Williams, “Crude Lament”]

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Comments

  1. Canadian says:

    I hate it when people write “Oh Canada” for the national anthem.

    • Funny, I’ve always hated seeing “O Canada”.

      • big dick bro says:

        funny i’ve always hated how big my dick is… and canada in general. stupid hosers.

        • You probably hate seeing how big it is due to it being less than an inch long.

          • big dick bro says:

            a small dick joke? my name is big dick bro because i have a big dick. is reading that hard?

          • Is learning to use a ruler when measuring your dick that hard? Learn the difference between inches and millimeters.

          • big dick bro says:

            ? no. not at all. I know the difference. it doesn’t matter what unit i use to measure it it’s big.

            i think it’s so weird.. it’s like i flat out explained that i have a big dick and that is causing you guys so much confusion.

            fairly unintelligent people!

          • Yeah right, whatever lies you need to tell yourself to cope with having a micropenis.

          • big dick bro says:

            i’m not lying though. just honestly have a big dick. i don’t see why that’s so hard to understand. do you have a thick skull and therefore a small brain?

          • BertVisscher says:

            As for me, I have…or perhaps I should say “had”…the believe that your image reflected your true gender.

          • big dick bro says:

            I have the belief that you are a retarded foreigner who needs to learn English.

          • BertVisscher says:

            In that order: no, yes, and no.

          • big dick bro says:

            obviously i didn’t mean you were literally retarded. just very dull. you’re a dullard. you’ve never had an interesting original or deep thought in your life. and you never will. you are nowhere near my level and never will be.

            also, you’re foreign trash so you should kill yourself.

            and your english is terrible. rife with subtle grammatical slips that betray your foreignosity.

            being lax with syntax is one thing. anyone can capitalize their sentences and punctuate. but you need to actually know the language or have a reasonable level of intelligence to not have telling grammar fuckups bleeding through everything you write.

          • BertVisscher says:

            You base your judgement of me on a single comment?

            As for me being nowhere near your level…if that means being as hostile as you are, then I’m glad I’m not.

            As for my English…may my observations about your English be an indication of mine:
            You don’t have a single capital letter where one should be, you put a comma where there should have been a period, and you start at least one sentence with a conjunction.

          • big dick bro says:

            reread my comment. i address the syntax issue. syntax is something anyone can do. so attacking someone on that basis is facile. and by being near my level i’m referring to intelligence. i am a much more intelligent person than you. i have a larger, better brain that is more honed to intellectual curiosity and cerebral pursuits. neocortex-emphasized pursuits.

            my speech is perfect within the context of the colloquial. yours is not. yours has subtle logical missteps that betray low intelligence.

            and yes i can determine your intelligence by a single comment. i have enough experience on the internet to do so. you are inferior to me, intellectually and prove it more with each comment.

          • BertVisscher says:

            I still see you typing only in lower-case letters.

            I know what you meant by your claim that I’m nowhere near your level.

            Assuming there is any truth to your claim that I’m making mistakes, then why don’t you point them out?

            Also, you say that you “are a much more intelligent person” than I am, yet you don’t appear to be intelligent enough, to not deem it necessary to point it out, and you even used rude language in your earlier message.

          • big dick bro says:

            see my comment on syntax. anyone can use proper syntax. but it takes a certain level of intelligence (low by the way) to use proper grammar and not have those subtle fuckups and weird wordings that reveal low intelligence. also nothing about high intelligence precludes bragging about it. the stereotype of the modest genius is one created by an institution of dumb dumbs like you who feel absolutely crushed in spirit by the notion that there are people with genetically superior neocortii. i will always be smarter than you in every way. and because of that i’ll be able to do and see things you never will be able to do or see.

  2. Benedicta says:

    O, say can you see…
    The ‘O’ doesn’t immediately proceed a person, it’s implied that there are people, or a person, being addressed.

  3. “o” is also used in sms / IM / irc these days as shorthand for oh.

  4. According to the book ___Treatise on English Punctutation__ by John Wilson, 1850, O isn’t just applied in poetry–it’s applied whenever one writes proper English. So, instead of this: Oh, Charlie Brown, you’re a blockhead!
    The sentence is correctly written this way: O Charlie Brown, you’re a blockhead!

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