The most confusing grammar rules in English


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Nicole Fornabaio /

Abbreviations with seemingly random letters

The English language is full of abbreviations that just don’t make sense. Why does the abbreviation for “number” have an “O”, for example? And where did the word creators get “lbs” from “pounds”? But in most cases it is a linguistic explanation, usually having to do with an earlier spelling or meaning of the word. For example, in the case of “Ms.”. and its seemingly random “R”, this abbreviation was once the abbreviation for the word “mistress”, as in the female equivalent of “master”, not “Miss”. Over time, the connotations of “mistress” have changed, but the spelling of “Ms.”. did not. By the way, here is the difference between acronyms, abbreviations and acronyms.

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i.e. vs for exampleNicole Fornabaio /

“For example” against “that is to say”

Speaking of abbreviations, what the heck do these two abbreviations mean and why are they so similar? Well, wonder no more. “Eg” is the abbreviation of the Latin expression exempli gratia, which means “for example”. So “for example” is the phrase you should use before providing one or more examples: “I love all the common Thanksgiving foods, for example stuffing, turkey, and cranberry sauce.” A lot of people use “ie” in this context, while “ie” means something completely different. “Ie” means ID is, or it’s.” Use “that is” when trying to explain or clarify something you just said: “I will get back to you soon, ie before the end of the week”.

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comma oxfordNicole Fornabaio /

oxford commas

Certain style guides insist on it; some do not. A tiny comma has caused more than its share of debate in the grammar world. What it is, exactly, is the comma before the last element of a sequence. Consider: “At the store, I bought apples, pears, bananas and blueberries. »Should this comma after« bananas »be there or not? Sometimes that is necessary to preserve the meaning of the phrase, as in “I love my friends, chocolate and rock music”. Chances are chocolate and rock music aren’t the friends you were talking about, so a comma after “chocolate” is a grammatical must. But, in the example of the fruit, this does not change the meaning, so some grammarians argue that the “and” serves the same function as the Oxford comma, and the comma is unnecessary. The Oxford comma is just one of many common spelling and grammar rules that no one can agree on.


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