Language Matters

Hanukkah is widely known across the English-speaking world as an important Jewish holiday. How do you spell it?

Autumn is well and truly here, and people across the English-speaking world have been celebrating Halloween: a fusion of Christian and pagan traditions with a heavy emphasis on magic and the occult. Accordingly, spells and curses are the subject of this month’s Word Stories, although, in the case of one of our words, the connection might seem mysterious at first sight.

Many English adverbs end in -ly (beautifully, honestly, merely), some other adverbs end in -wise (clockwise, otherwise, date-night-wise), and some never take a suffix (inside, midflight, so, thus). When a flat adverb (such as smart, loud or quick) does have an -ly form (smartly, loudly, quickly), many writers wonder whether it is acceptable to use the suffixless form.

Verbing, also known as denominalization or verbification, refers to the creation of verbs from words belonging to other syntactic categories, typically nouns. It is common practice in English, and most of us encounter verbed words several times a day, on subjects ranging from texting to parenting and networking.

Comprise is a popular verb when discussing parts of a whole, but many writers are unsure of how to use it correctly. Do the parts comprise the whole, does the whole comprise the parts, or are both constructions correct? Can you use the passive form comprised of? This article will examine the traditional rule as well as the history of usage that challenges it.

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