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Organize or organise?

Against popular belief, the spelling -ize in the word organize was first used in England in the 1400s, centuries before the Pilgrim Fathers landed in America. Nowadays this spelling is considered American, while British English has the form with -ise. That last statement is not completely true. The so-called Oxford spelling uses the z, which […]


The word abbreviation comes from the Latin verb abbreviare with the adjective brevis, which means short. When you abbreviate something, you make it shorter. Many abbreviations are formed by leaving out all except the first few letters of a word. These abbreviations often end with a full stop. Names of the months are abbreviated according […]

Enquire and inquire

Enquire and inquire both mean to ask or seek information about something. The corresponding nouns are enquiry and inquiry. Basically there is no big difference in meaning between these words. It can be generally said that inquire is the common form in the USA and enquire in Britain. However, there are writers – particularly in […]

Don’t say too much!

Writers often say too much by adding unnecessary words. Phrases such as free gift and joint cooperation are examples of tautology (saying the same thing twice) or pleonasm (using more words than necessary). Words that do not add information are called redundant words. Get rid of redundancies! Here are some examples of unnecessary words: General consensus […]

Mr and Mrs – and what about Mx and Esq?

We have looked at gender-neutral language in a previous blog post. To address people we can use the honorific titles Mr, Miss and Mrs. The female forms Mrs and Miss indicate whether a woman is married or not, which Mr does not. Mrs shows that a woman is married; many widows and divorced women retain […]

Compounds in English

When two or more words are combined to form a new concept with a new meaning, we talk about a compound. A compound can be a combination of a noun and a noun (school nurse), an adjective and a noun (full moon), an adverb and a verb (far-reaching), a verb and an adverb (check-up), a […]

Co-operate or cooperate?

Co is a prefix, a syllable placed before a word. The word prefix itself is made up of the prefix pre (meaning before) and the word fix (meaning attach). The prefix co (and its alternative forms con, com, col and cor, depending on which letter follows the prefix) has the meaning with, together with. A […]

Furthermore and moreover

Furthermore and moreover are often understood as synonyms. However, there is a difference in meaning between them. FURTHERMORE Use furthermore when you add something to what you just said. Earlier research has shown that this applies to several sectors. Furthermore, this has been confirmed in our interviews. MOREOVER Use moreover to indicate that you add […]

Big, large and great

Can you sort out big, large and great? Generally speaking, big describes weight or extent, large is often related to dimensions or volume and great suggests something impressive. Great is often used with abstract nouns. BIG Big is used more often than large. In fact, big is one of the most frequent words in the […]

What’s the difference between -ic and -ical?

The endings -ic and -ical may cause confusion. They both have the meaning of related to or characterised by. The ending -ic is more common. Here are some examples: academic anestethic athletic chaotic episodic linguistic melodic neurotic parodic patriotic poetic rhapsodic sympathetic synthetic The adjective ending -ical is common with nouns ending in -ology. anthropological […]

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