Apr 14th 2013

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What’s Your Style?

English is the most complex and vocabulary-rich language in the world. As of January 2012, there over 1 million words in use and a new word is added to the English language every 98 minutes! English incorporates many words and grammatical rules from other languages which makes it even more complicated.

How do we use language? Naturally, with so many influences and new additions, there tend to be disagreements on how language is used. Below are three disagreements over style.

Is it email or e-mail?

Back in 2011, this question was in the news due to two giants in the writing business: the Associated Press and the New York Times. To hyphenate or not to hyphenate? The AP Stylebook removed the hyphen since they thought it was only needed to explain that email meant “electronic mail” in the early days of the internet where new concepts needed clarification.

The New York Times decided to stick with the hyphen in e-mail while acknowledging that there is no longer the need to write the “message” after the word e-mail as in “e-mail message.”

Starting a sentence with and or but

Grammatically speaking, it is acceptable to start a sentence with “and” or “but.” The problem with starting your sentence with one of these conjunctions is that your writing will often come off as informal.

Instead, you can replace “and” with “in addition” and replace “but” with “however” to sound more professional.  

Hanged or Hung?

Until recently, both “hanged” and “hung” were used as the past participle of hang.

Today, however, “hanged” usually only refers to someone who has been executed by hanging: “His neighbor was hanged.”

Objects are “hung”: “Nostalgic posters were hung around the restaurant.”

 

Do you have other examples of style differences in English?

 


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