Originally the word was “pease,” and it was singular.The sound on the end was reanalyzed as a plural ‘s’ marker.
The same thing happened to “cherise” or “cheris,” which came from Old French “cherise” and was reanalyzed as a plural. So the singular “cherry” was born.
Originally “napron” often enough as “an apron” that by the 1600s the “n” was dropped.
Umpire lost its ‘n’ from the same sort of confusion. Orinally nompere, the n-less form won out.
A newt was originally an “ewt” - with “an” thus it became the “newt.”
The ‘n’ also traveled over from the “an” to stick to “nickname,” which was originally “ekename,” meaning “added name.”
Alligator came to English from the Spanish explorers who first encountered “el lagarto” (lizard) in the New World.
Here you will find all of the interactive quizzes compiled by Grammar.ccc from various sources. These sources include Sentence Sense: A Writer’s Guide, English faculty at an estimable midwestern university, and students in Professor Karyn Hollis’s Tutor Training course at Villanova University.
All links from this post jump directly to the listed quiz.
These links represent the index of pages from Grammar.ccc, an excellent resource for all things English grammar.
Three little words you often see
Are ARTICLES: a, an, and the.
A NOUN's the name of anything,
As: school or garden, toy, or swing.
ADJECTIVES tell the kind of noun,
As: great, small, pretty, white, or brown.
VERBS tell of something being done:
To read, write, count, sing, jump, or run.
How things are done the ADVERBS tell,
As: slowly, quickly, badly, well.
CONJUNCTIONS join the words together,
As: men and women, wind or weather.
The PREPOSITION stands before
A noun as: in or through a door.
The INTERJECTION shows surprise
As: Oh, how pretty! Ah! how wise!
The whole are called the PARTS of SPEECH,
Which reading, writing, speaking teach.
"Why the song leaves out pronouns is a mystery. A writer from Richland, Washington, suggests ‘A PRONOUN replaces any noun: / he, she, it, and you are found.’” —Grammar.ccc’s page “Definitions of Basic Sentence Parts”
One of the best ways to make your writing stronger is to cut unnecessary words. Many people tend to over-write, often in a similar way to how they would speak. Words creep in that add no meaning and can make a piece of writing sound vague and woolly rather than confidence and precise.
Faulty combination of elements in sentences is a common syntactical flaw. Here are three examples of this type of organizational error.
1. “She is bright, creative, and has much to share.”
This sentence, in which the predicate includes two adjectives following a verb, then a conjunction and a verb phrase, is out of balance. The subject is credited with three attributes, and they must share one verb, or each must have its own verb. The sentence initially appears to follow the former rule, but then another verb appears. The only way to maintain this structure is to combine bright and creative into a single item: “She is bright and creative and has much to share.” (Note that the comma after creative is no longer necessary.)
Alternatively, creative could be assigned its own verb, but it — and the final phrase — would require a proprietary repetition of the pronoun as well: “She is bright, she is creative, and she has much to share.”
2. “We’ve saved a lot of money by using less paper, less water, less energy, and by creating less waste.”
Savings have occurred thanks to two factors: 1) use of less paper, water, and energy and 2) less production of waste; this sentence fails to structure this description correctly. The list of three items is distinct from the second element of the sentence, so it must include a conjunction between the second and third items: “We’ve saved a lot of money by using less paper, less water, and less energy and by creating less waste.” (Note also that because “less energy” is no longer mistakenly regarded as the penultimate item in a list of four things, no comma is necessary after the phrase.)
3. “His positive energy and willingness to work hard on every assignment is key to his success.”
When two nouns separated by a conjunction follow an adjective, the adjective generally applies to both nouns, but here, positive applies only to energy, so the pronoun must be repeated before willingness to clarify that “positive willingness” is not implied: “His positive energy and his willingness to work hard on every assignment is key to his success.”
After we posted that explanation of “?!!” and “!?”, we got a lot of responses advising writers to “just use an interrobang.”
Well, no. Unless you’re joking, do not use an interrobang (‽).
You won’t see it in formal or technical writing at all, and it would surprise me if you found it in very many published works outside of a few magazine articles during its heyday in the 60’s and 70’s.
After all, there is no key for it on your keyboard for a reason. Unlike “?!”, which at least includes actual English punctuation, the interrobang is nonstandard punctuation and is not recognized by grammarians as functional in the English language, sort of like the irony mark (⸮).
It doesn’t matter if you feel that the interrobang could be a useful piece of punctuation. If you use it, lots of people aren’t going to take you all that seriously.
And yes, English grammar changes over time. Perhaps one day the interrobang will enter common usage. Until then, stick with “!”, “?”, or even (the wrong but still more correct) “?!”.
As much as we might judge people for their bad spelling, the truth is that English spelling doesn’t make any goddamn sense. Just look at that sentence: Why is there an “n” but no “n” sound in “goddamn”? It turns out there’s one perfectly good reason for that and many other eccentricities of the language, and that one good reason is actually a bunch of stupid reasons that are all shitty and terrible. Like …