Hurdle vs. Hurtle

The following quotation is from a site devoted to business English. The blogger is explaining the expression “to give a heads-up.”

Revisiting Wether, Incidence and Different Than

In researching the recent song lyrics post, I came across a comment written by a high school sophomore. (For the information of non-American readers, a high school sophomore is 15 or 16 years of age.)


Back-formation is one of several methods by which new words are added to the language. An often-quoted example is the word pea. Before pea was created by back-formation, English had the singular noun pease. Here are two examples of its early use from the OED, (some spellings altered).

Apostrophe with Plural Possessive Nouns

Most English speakers know that the usual way to make a noun plural is to add -s to the singular: boy/boys, knight/knights, house/houses. They are also aware that the plural of few nouns, like child and ox, is formed with the quaint ending -en: children, oxen.

Surplus and Surplice

The fashion term “surplice neckline” recently came to my attention. The term applies to a diagonally crossed neckline that creates a deep v-shaped neckline. The surplice style is thought of as a “faux wrap,” a cross-over design that makes the garment look as if it is wrapped around the wearer.

Helping Verbs

A reader of the post on the uses of the past participle wonders, How did English come to require helping verbs? Isn’t that unusual among languages?

Tortuous, Torturous, and Tortious

All three words, tortuous, torturous, and tortious derive from the Latin verb torquere, “to twist.”

Horde, Trooper, and Towards

Some usage errors are so widespread that readers begin to wonder if they’re mistaken about the correct form.

To Do vs. To Make

Pointing out that some languages, like Russian, have only one verb to express the meanings of English make and do, a reader requests a little guidance: Please could you explain the difference between the verbs “to do” and “to make.” Is there some kind of formula or method?

True and False Ranges

The combination from…to is often used to express a range of extremes, for example, “the prices ranged from $1 to $20.”

May Have vs. Might Have

Speaking of a murderer who was apprehended in 1998, a law enforcement officer was quoted as saying: When all this happened, if I wasn’t there, he may have gotten away with it.

Song Lyrics and Standard English

According to a story in the NY Times, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh studied the 279 most popular songs from 2005 looking for references to drugs and alcohol.

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