mind your language

So It's Cut And Dried That Cut And Dry Is Wrong

Cut and dried is a useful expression for conveying that something is fixed and (for most purposes) unarguable. If you get it wrong and write cut and dry, an argument will undoubtedly happen.


Potato Scallop, Cake Or Fritter? Actually, It Depends

Twitter has flared up recently over the oft-argued question of whether a flat circular disc of battered and deep-fried potato should be called a potato scallop, potato cake or potato fritter in Australia. The correct answer? It depends on where you live.


Your Bank Balance Is Dependent On Your Dependants

English words that sound identical and differ only by their use of an “a” or an “e” can often cause confusion. And so it proves yet again with dependent and dependant.


I'm Confident Your Confidant Isn't My Confidante

In The Sound Of Music, Maria has confidence in sunshine. I have rather less confidence that everyone is clear on the difference between confident, confidant and confidante.


Destiny Sales And The Importance Of Two-Letter Words

You might have seen news reports last week that Bungie’s blockbuster new game Destiny made $US500 million in its first day on sale. However, that’s not quite what happened.


Road Sign Mistake Reminds Us Why Accuracy Matters

We spend most of our time at Mind Your Language pointing out common spelling and grammar mistakes. Sometimes it’s worth reminding people of the consequences of a lax attitude to careful writing. This is one of those times.


When You're En Route To Somewhere, Forget The On

The French expression en route (meaning “on your way to”) is so widely used in English that it’s acceptable to not place it in italics every time you use it. What isn’t acceptable is replacing the en with on.


How Spelling Mistakes Will Ruin Your Amusing GIFs

There’s an animated GIF doing the rounds which sums up the plot of every episode of TV medical drama House. It’s pointed and cruel and funny — but the effect was ruined for me by a spelling mistake in one of the captions.


What's The Difference Between A Reticle And A Reticule?

I’ll admit it: before I began researching this topic, I had never used the word reticle in a sentence. So how did it end up as a target for Mind Your Language?


Give Us A Break And Put The Brakes On

I thought put the brakes on was an obvious automotive idiom and that everyone would be able to spell it correctly. Then I opened my eyes and realised that some people are writing put the breaks on instead. Oh dear.