In English, the Latin word sic, meaning thus or so, is usually used within quoted passages, and it indicates that the quoted text is reproduced exactly as it appears in the original. It can be useful when you are quoting from a source that has spelling or grammar errors and you want to make sure your readers know the errors are not yours. Sic may be italicized (although it’s often not) and is usually enclosed in brackets within the quotation.

The following examples are copied from the linked sources, and we have not added the sic or the quotation marks:

Davis has been charged with having a “phoney [sic] destruction device” and “false statement – destruction device.” [Baltimore Sun]

During the noon hour Hernandez posted a message to his supporters on Facebook.  It says, “I wan [sic] to publicly thank everyone who has been so supportive of me and my family these past few days… .” [KCBD]

The company is selling a T-shirt for girls with the following grammatically incorrect sentence written in shiny silver print: “If your [sic] single, so am I.” [NY Daily News]

Although sic is useful, we must be careful to use it only when we’re certain the mistake in the original text is truly a mistake, keeping in mind that different varieties of English have different spellings for some words. Also, there’s no need to use sic when quoting from an old text whose language is obviously archaic.

Here, for example, when quoting the UK UNICEF website, the writer apparently doesn’t realize that learnt is a perfectly good form in British English:

” Nesbitt learnt [sic] how with the support of UNICEF these children have slowly managed to return to a semblance of normal life.” [BBC America Anglophenia]

This just makes the BBC writer look uninformed.

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