Good English Usage


There are some words, usages and sentence constructions that may be common in spoken English but do not belong in the written language. Such errors will generally be corrected:

  1. Caries This Latin word means “rot” and is singular. It is a condition, not an item. In French dentistry, it is common to say that a person has “two caries”, this is incorrect in English: the person may have two carious lesions.

  2. Compare with The Latin basis is co(m) parere, to appear with. “Compare to” is often used colloquially, especially in North America. W2P favours correct, classical English writing style.

  3. Prepositions: A preposition links nouns, pronouns and phrases to other words in a sentence. As the name implies, in written English it should precede the object it links, thus, not “the place he is going to” but “the place to which he is going.”

  4. Infinitives In English, the infinitive of a verb consists of the particle “to” and the stem of the verb. Good writing style suggests that these not be separated. Thus, we write “to go quickly” and not “to quickly go”. Many writers do not respect this convention. At W2P, good style will be recommended.

  5. Plurals: Words like stadium (Latin) and criterion (Greek) are of neuter gender and their plurals end -a; thus, stadia and criteria. Datum is “something given” or a piece of information, plural data. Latin “index” in singular becomes “indices” in plural. The French word bureau, also used in English, is bureaux in the plural. In correct English, the plurals of such words are written as in the original languages, although one occasionally sees the plurals for these words written with  -s, or even the plural form used as the singular!