The alt.usage.english FAQ

Table of Contents


Welcome
 Guidelines for posting (*)
 Related newsgroups (*)
English Usage on the Net
 Dictionaries (**)
 Grammar (**)
 Phrase and word origins (**)
 ESL/EFL resources (**)
 Language history (**)
 Translators (**)
 Word lists (**)
 Linguistics (**)
 Other recommended sites (**)
Recommended Books
 Books on words (**)
 Dictionaries (**)
 Online dictionaries (*)
 General reference (*)
 Books on linguistics (*)
 Grammars (*)
 Books on usage (*)
 Online usage guides (*)
 Online language columns (*)
 Books that discriminate synonyms (*)
 Style manuals (*)
 Book on mathematical exposition (*)
 Books on phrasal verbs (*)
 Books on Britishisms, Canadianisms, etc. (*)
 Books on phrase origins (*)
 Books on "bias-free"/"politically correct" language (*)
 Books on group names (*)
 Books on rhyming slang (*)
Speech, Accents, Dialects, Regionalisms, Sound files
 Basic English (*)
 E-prime (*)
 Formant Analysis (**)
 Speech examples (**)
Pronunciation
 How to represent pronunciation in ASCII (*)
 rhotic vs non-rhotic, intrusive "r" (*)
 How do Americans pronounce "dog"? (*)
 Words pronounced differently according to context (*)
 Words whose spelling has influenced their pronunciation (*)
Grammar
 Does English have a subjunctive mood? (**)
 Genitive is not always possessive (**)
 Plural formation (**)
 Thou, thee & archaic grammar (**)
Usage Disputes
 "acronym" (*)
 "all ... not" (*)
 "alot" (*)
 "alright" (*)
 "between you and I" (*)
 "company is" vs "company are" (*)
 "could care less" (*)
 "could of" (*)
 "different to", "different than" (*)
 "done"="finished" (*)
 double "is" (*)
 "due to" (*)
 "functionality" (*)
 Gender-neutral pronouns (*)
 "God rest you merry, gentlemen" (*)
 "hopefully", "thankfully" (*)
 "if I was" vs "if I were" (*)
 "impact"="to affect" (*)
 "It needs cleaned" (*)
 "It's me" vs "It is I" (*)
 "less" vs "fewer" (*)
 "like" vs "as" (*)
 "like" vs "such as" (*)
 "more/most/very unique" (*)
 "mouses" vs "mice" (*)
 "near miss" (*)
 "none is" vs "none are" (*)
 Plurals of Latin/Greek words (*)
 Foreign plurals => English singulars (*)
 Preposition at end (*)
 "quality" (*)
 Repeated words after abbreviations (*)
 "Scotch" (*)
 "shall" vs "will", "should" vs "would" (*)
 split infinitive (*)
 "that" vs "which" (*)
 "that kind of a thing" (*)
 the the "hoi polloi" debate (*)
 "try and", "be sure and", "go" + verb (*)
 "whom" (*)
 "any more" and "anymore" (**)
 "you saying" vs "your saying" (*)
 is "people" the pural of "person"? (**)
 "miss not having" (**)
 What is prescriptivism? (**)
 "true fact" (*)
Punctuation
 "." after abbreviations (*)
 spaces between sentences (*)
 ", vs ," (*)
 "A, B and C" vs "A, B, and C" (*)
 Quotes for emphasis (**)
Word Origins
 "A.D." (*)
 "alumin(i)um" (notes by Keith Ivey) (*)
 "bloody" (*)
 "bug"="defect" (*)
 "Caesarean section" (*)
 "canola" (*)
 "catch-22" (*)
 "cop" (*)
 "copacetic" (*)
 "crap" (*)
 "eighty-six"="nix" (*)
 "Eskimo" (*)
 "flammable" (*)
 "freeway" (*)
 "fuck" (*)
 "golf" (*)
 "hooker" (*)
 "ISO" by Mark Brader (*)
 "jerry-built"/"jury-rigged" (*)
 "kangaroo" (*)
 "limerence"/"limerent" (*)
 "loo" (*)
 "love"="zero" (*)
 "merkin" (notes by Michael B. Quinion and Ruth Bygrave) (*)
 "nimrod" (*)
 "O.K." (*)
 "outrage" (*)
 "paparazzo" (*)
 "pie-shaped" (*)
 "portmanteau word" (*)
 "posh" (*)
 "quiz" (*)
 "Santa Ana" (*)
 "scot-free" (*)
 "sincere" (*)
 "sirloin"/"baron of beef" (*)
 "spoonerism" (*)
 "suck"="be very unsatisfying" by John Davies (*)
 "till"/"until" (*)
 "tip" (*)
 "titsling"/"brassiere" (*)
 troll (*)
 typo (*)
 Wicca (*)
 "widget" (notes by William C. Waterhouse) (*)
 "wog" (*)
 "wonk" (notes by Fred Shapiro) (*)
 "wop" (*)
 "ye"="the" (*)
 "SOS" (**)
 "SOS" (**)
Phrase Origins
 "the bee's knees" (*)
 "beg the question" (*)
 "billions and billions" (*)
 "blue moon" (notes by Philip Hiscock) (*)
 "Bob's your uncle" (*)
 "Break a leg!" (*)
 "to call a spade a spade" (*)
 "cut the mustard" (*)
 "cut to the chase" (*)
 "The die is cast." (*)
 "dressed to the nines" (*)
 "Elementary, my dear Watson!" (*)
 "Enquiring minds want to know." (notes by James Kiso) (*)
 "The exception proves the rule." (*)
 "face the music" (*)
 "fall off a turnip truck" (*)
 "full monty" (*)
 "Get the lead out" (*)
 "Go figure" (*)
 "Go placidly amid the noise and the haste" (Desiderata) (*)
 "go to hell in a handbasket" (*)
 "hell for leather" (*)
 "hoist with his own petard" (*)
 "by hook or by crook" (*)
 "Illegitimis non carborundum" (*)
 "in like Flynn" (*)
 "Jingle Bells" (*)
 "Let them eat cake!" (*)
 "mind your p's and q's" (*)
 "more honoured in the breach than the observance" (*)
 "more than you can shake a stick at" (*)
 "ollie ollie oxen free" (*)
 "peter out" (*)
 "politically correct" (*)
 "push the envelope" (*)
 "put in one's two cents' worth" (*)
 "rule of thumb" (*)
 "shouting fire in a crowded theater" (*)
 "son of a gun" (*)
 "spit and image"/"spitting image" (*)
 "There's a sucker born every minute" (*)
 "to all intents and purposes" (*)
 "wait for the other shoe to drop" (*)
 "Wherefore art thou Romeo?" (*)
 "whole cloth" (notes by Ellen Rosen) (*)
 "the whole nine yards" (*)
 "You have another think coming" (*)
Words Frequently Sought
 words ending in "-gry" (*)
 words without vowels (*)
 What is the language term for...? (*)
 "I won't mention..." (*)
 names of "&", "@", and "#" (*)
 "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." (*)
 "Take the prisoner downstairs", said Tom condescendingly. (*)
 What is the opposite of "to exceed"? (*)
 What is the opposite of "distaff side"? (*)
 What do you call the grass strip between the road and the sidewalk? (*)
Miscellany
 What is a suggested format for citing online sources? (*)
 Fumblerules ("Don't use no double negatives", etc.) (*)
 English is Tough Stuff (*)
 What is the phone number of the Grammar Hotline? (*)
 Do publishers put false info in dictionaries to catch plagiarists? (*)
 How reliable are dictionaries? (*)
 etymologies of personal names (*)
 How did "Truly" become a personal name? (*)
 trademarks (*)
 Commonest words (*)
 What words are their own antonym? (*)
 Why do we say "30 years old", but "a 30-year-old man"? (*)
 sentences grammatical in both Old English and Modern English (*)
 radio alphabets (*)
 distribution of English-speakers (*)
 provenance of English vocabulary (notes by Lucia Engkent) (*)
 "billion": a U.K. view (*)
 Biblical sense of "to know" (*)
 Postfix "not" (*)
 Origin of the dollar sign (notes by Mark Brader) (*)
 Britain/GreatBritain/United Kingdom &C: Some common confusions (**)
 What is the UK? Is it the same as Britain, Great Britain or England (**)
 World-wide distribution of English-speakers (**)
 Humorous Rules for Writing (**)
 "a"/"an" before abbreviations (*)
 "A number of..." (*)
 When to use "the" (*)
 Subjunctive (*)
Spelling
 Comments on a proposal for reformed English spelling (**)
 Exceptions to the "i before e" rule (**)
 Preferences, "e-mail" vs "email" (**)
 Spelling reform (*)
 Joke about step-by-step spelling reform (*)
 What is "ghoti"? (notes by Jim Scobbie) (*)
 I before E except after C (notes by Mark Wainwright) (*)
 How do you spell "e-mail"? (*)
 Why is "I" capitalized? (*)
 Diacritics (*)
 "-er" vs "-re" (*)
 "-ize" vs "-ise" (*)
 doubling of final consonants before suffixes (*)
 Where to put apostrophes in possessive forms (*)
Recent Entries
 9/11 coinages (**)
 SMS abbreviations (**)
Legacy
 Does the next millennium begin in 2000 or 2001? (*)
 What will we call the next decade? (*)
Legend
 * Original FAQ
 ** FAQ Supplement or other source





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