Engrain vs. ingrain

Ingrain is the standard spelling of the verb meaning to impress deeply. Engrain is an accepted variant, but it appears only rarely. It does not have any meanings of its own. The preference for ingrain extends to ingrained, which is actually more common than the uninflected form. Examples Ingrained is preferred throughout the English-speaking world. Here are a few examples of the word in action: Long-term education is needed to change historically and culturally ingrained habits and to … [Read more...]


The verb burst is usually uninflected in the past tense and as a past participle Bursted is an old form that still appears colloquially, but it is widely considered incorrect and is best avoided in formal writing. It always bears replacement with the uninflected burst. Though considered incorrect, bursted has a long history. The Oxford English Dictionary has examples from as long ago as the early 16th century,1 and a historical ngram graphing the use of bursted over the centuries shows that … [Read more...]

American English vs. British English 2

[QUIZZIN 6] … [Read more...]

Burned vs. burnt

Burned and burnt both work as the past tense and past participle of burn. Both are used throughout the English-speaking world, but usage conventions vary. American and Canadian writers use burned more often, and they use burnt mainly in adjectival phrases such as burnt out and burnt orange. Outside North America, the two forms are used interchangeably, and neither is significantly more common than the other. Burned is the older form. Burnt came about during a period in the 16th through 18th … [Read more...]

French noun gender

One of the most important differences between French and English is how gender is used. Every French noun is either masculine or feminine, and this affects how the noun is treated. This phenomenon comes from the language's Latin origins. Archaic English had a few gender-related rules, but they've mostly disappeared over time. When learning the gender of French nouns, keep in mind that the meaning of the noun usually has nothing to do with whether it is masculine or feminine. Think of it as an … [Read more...]


The verb daresay means (1) suppose, or (2) presume to say. For instance, if you think daresay means something else but are not sure what, you might comment, "I daresay this post is wrong," or "I daresay you don't know what you're talking about!"  It is one word, and has been so for centuries, and though it has an archaic ring, it remains useful and appears fairly often for an archaism. Examples His foray on to the Temple Mount was not his first and I daresay will not be his last. [Jewish … [Read more...]

Dyeing vs. dying

Dying relates to death. Dyeing relates to soaking items in colored solutions. Dieing is a misspelling. A similar distinction applies to the past participles died and dyed. Die becomes died, and dye becomes dyed. Examples Dyeing and dying are occasionally mixed up---for example: Each part of the dying process---soaking, tying, dying---was given its own station. [Foster's Daily Democrat] The English philosopher Francis Bacon (1561-1626) compared alchemy to a dyeing man who told his sons … [Read more...]

Assent vs. consent

Assent and consent are mostly synonymous---they both mean to agree or to give permission---but assent connotes a greater degree of enthusiasm, and consent often comes with reluctance. In law and government, consent is more readily denied, while assent is often a mere formality. Examples One may readily assent to part of Koppel's 1987 assertion: Humanity needs the Truth, and human beings need moral absolutes. [The New American] Venezuela issued a decree banning use of President Hugo Chàvez's … [Read more...]


Vis-à-vis is a loanword from French, where it means face to face (derived from the French visage, meaning face). In English, it's most commonly a preposition meaning in relation to or compared with, and it's sometimes used to mean simply face to face. The French grave accent over the a is optional in English, but it appears more often than not in edited writing. Examples "That Old Gang Of Mine" continues in that vein, and it ties up some loose ends vis-à-vis [involving?] Gunn and his old … [Read more...]

Par excellence

The French loan phrase par excellence, meaning (1) quintessential, (2) excellent, or (3) to a degree of excellence, is both an adjective and an adverb. But unlike standard English adverbs and adjectives, par excellence usually comes after the word it modifies. For example, a great writer is not a par excellence writer but rather a writer par excellence. Because par excellence has earned a spot in the English language, there's no need to italicize it in normal use. It's usually spoken with a … [Read more...]

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