mind your language

These Uncharted Waters Have Not Been Chartered

Uncharted waters is a common phrase used to describe unfamiliar territory. Don’t make the mistake of writing unchartered waters instead.


Your Stationery Can Be Stationary (But Not The Other Way Around)

The distinction between stationery (pens, pencils, binder clips and other office gear) and stationary (not moving) is the first spelling mnemonic I can recall learning. However you remember it, it’s important to get it right.


Avoid Breaches In Your Breeches

Breeches is a somewhat old-fashioned word for trousers, and one you probably don’t need to deploy often unless you’re heavily into riding gear or have scored a job writing Asterix comics. One context where you definitely shouldn’t use it? When you actually mean breach.


No, Australians Don't Spell Jail With A 'G' Any More

Language changes over time, and current usage needs to reflect that to be accurate. There was a time when “gaol” was the accepted spelling in Australia. But that time was 1954, not 2014. Jail is the correct spelling these days.


What's The Difference Between 'Inquire' And 'Enquire'?

Inquire and enquire differ by only a single letter, and they both mean, roughly, “ask”. How should you choose which one to use?


Saying 'LEGOS' Is Even More Painful Than Stepping On LEGO

I love LEGO. I hate the Americanism “LEGOS”. LEGO is a collective noun. You buy some LEGO; you don’t buy some LEGOS.


Why Brussels Sprouts Are Hard To Spell (And To Eat)

The brussels sprout is absolutely a love-it-or-leave-it vegetable. But whichever side of the culinary fence you are on, you need to spell it correctly.


This Poem Reminds Us That English Spelling Will Never Be Easy

A 1920s poem demonstrating how arbitrary English spelling can be is enjoying a new lease of life on social media, reminding us that it’s not easy to be an accurate speller.


Madonna Can Get Away With Ignoring Spelling, But You Can't

So last week Madonna spelled the word ‘ratchet’ incorrectly on an Instagram post. When various followers pointed this out, her response was pointed: “Ratchit Ratchet Ratchit Ratchet Bitch I’m Madonna”.


There's A Lot Riding On The Right Use Of 'Allot'

The 1998 greatest hits album by Faith No More is entitled Who Cares A Lot? Take note. It is not called Who Cares Alot?