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Favor vs. favour

Favor and favour are different spellings of the same word. Favor is the preferred spelling in American English. Favour is preferred in all other main varieties of English. These preferences extend to most derivatives, including favored/favoured, favoring/favouring, favorite/favourite, and favorable/favourable. The American adoption of favor was part of a broader early-19th-century effort to create a distinctly American English with spellings considered tidier or more logical. Favour was just … [Read more...]

African-American vs. black

The term African-American was advanced in the 1980s to give Americans of African descent an equivalent of German-American, Italian-American, and so on. The term peaked in popularity during the 1990s and 2000s, but today it is often perceived as carrying a self-conscious political correctness that is unnecessary in informal contexts. In informal speech and writing, black is often preferred and is rarely considered offensive. Colored, an old term for African American people, is now considered … [Read more...]

Plum vs. plumb

Plum is an adjective meaning desirable, and it also denotes the sweet, purplish fruit. The adjectival meaning originated as a figurative extension of the fruit. Plumb is a verb meaning (1) to determine the depth of, to probe, or (2) to work as a plumber; an adjective/adverb meaning (3) exactly vertical, (4) utterly, or (5) squarely; and a noun referring to (6) a weight on the end of a line, used to determine water depth. Examples Plum Urban Meyer is joining ESPN as an analyst less than two … [Read more...]

Afterward vs. afterword

Afterward is an adverb meaning (1) at a later time, or (2) subsequently. Afterword is a synonym of epilogue---that is, a short addition or concluding section at the end of a literary work. Examples CC Sabathia threw about 30 pitches of live batting practice this morning and reported afterward that all went well ... [LoHud Yankees Blog] Each book's photos are accompanied by text from the subjects, with Elton John providing an intro and Kylie Minogue an afterword to the Shears book. [Dallas … [Read more...]

Tire vs. tyre

Tire and tyre both mean a covering for a wheel, usually made of rubber. Tire is the preferred spelling in the U.S. and Canada. Tyre is preferred in most varieties of English outside North America. Of course, all English speakers use tire in the sense to grow weary. Examples Outside North America Advanced systems to monitor fuel and tyre usage give the company a clear picture of how its fleet is performing. [Guardian] Less than half a kilometre in, Keneally gets a flat tyre. [Sydney Morning … [Read more...]

Amiable vs. amicable

Amiable means good-natured and likable. It describes people. Amicable means characterized by goodwill. It describes relationships or interactions between people. So, for instance, two amiable people might share an amicable friendship, or two amiable people might end their relationship amicably. Both amiable and amicable derive ultimately from the Latin amicabilis, meaning friendly. Amiable came to English from French in the 14th century and originally bore the sense now associated with … [Read more...]

Plenitude vs. plentitude

The noun referring to (1) an ample amount or quantity or (2) the condition of being full or ample is plenitude, with only one t. The misspelling plentitude is so common that it's been accepted by many dictionaries as a variant spelling. But the root of plenitude---and of plenty---is plenus (meaning full), without a t. Examples Both forms are common in publications that tend to reflect popular usage---for example: This seems too harsh, yet one aspect of the Spurs experience which Arsène … [Read more...]

Sentences

A sentence expresses a thing (the noun, or subject) performing an action (the verb, or predicate). A sentence should usually be composed of at least one independent clause, though there are times when sentence fragments are acceptable.  Types of sentences Simple sentences A simple sentence is a sentence that is made of a single independent clause and no dependent clauses. It contains a subject and predicate and nothing else---for example: The cat crouched. The rain is falling. The mail … [Read more...]

To vs. too

To is a versatile preposition. A few of its many definitions are (1) toward, (2) reaching as far as, and (3) until.1 Too is an adverb meaning (1) additionally, (2) excessively, (3) very, or (4) extremely.2 Whenever you're in doubt about whether to use to or too, see if any of those synonyms of too (i.e., additionally, extremely, etc.) would work in its place. If none fits, then to is probably the word you're looking for. Usually when someone uses to in place of too or vice-versa, it is simply … [Read more...]

Supposably

Supposedly is the dictionary-approved word for believed or reputed to be the case. Supposably is a colloquial variant that may be considered out of place in formal writing. Of course, supposably is technically a word---an adverb derived from supposable, which means capable of being supposed, which is significantly different from the meaning of supposed---but we can find no recent examples of the word used in this sense. … [Read more...]

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