Mind your language: Learnt vs learned

I haven’t done one of these posts in a while, so it’s about time. To recap, posts in this series deal with various grammar/spelling rules I decided to look up because I’ve become more pedantic about my spelling and grammar since no one on the internet can write properly anymore.

When I was typing this morning, I wrote “learned” even though my mind was leaning towards “learnt”. I had to know once and for all, so I googled it. According to this, both usages are acceptable, with “learnt” being the preferred variant outside of North America.

As usual, my instinct was right (and my hands were wrong). All the reading I did and spelling bees I won as a child have continued to help me to this day. It’s why I cannot bear to enter News24 anymore.


Transparent vs translucent

The reason I even thought of the difference between these two words is because I use the Setting layer transparency @ ArcGIS. I got a request from someone about making some colours appear “translucent”, so I figured I may as well go check which one is right.

According to Grammarist, I am probably referring to translucent (which means ESRI is wrong):

Things that are transparent are so clear you can see through them as if there’s nothing there. Things that are translucent allow light through but with significant diffusion or distortion.

So if you hold something transparent—say, a square of flat, clear glass—in front of these words, you’ll be able to read them. If you hold up something translucent—say, a tinted or decorated glass with water in it—you’ll see the glow of your screen but probably won’t be able to read the words.

According to StackExchange, the opposite is true:

Something that is transparent lets all light through without distorting the image — it is as if the transparent object were not even there, visually speaking. Something that is translucent lets some but not all light through. Something that is opaque lets no light through.

I’m not sure who to believe. Naturally, I turned to Wikipedia:

Transparency is possible in a number of graphics file formats. The term transparency is used in various ways by different people, but at its simplest there is “full transparency” i.e. something that is completely invisible. Of course, only part of a graphic should be fully transparent, or there would be nothing to see. More complex is “partial transparency” or “translucency” where the effect is achieved that a graphic is partially transparent in the same way as colored glass.

I don’t think that helps.

The first time I get to use this meme! Yay!



Mind Your Language: Couponing vs couponning

I know that couponing is not really a word, and only really exists in popular culture because of this show, but it is what it is. I have a category on my blog dedicated to it, so I was a bit perturbed to discover that I wasn’t being consistent with the way I was spelling it.

Yes, that may be a bit pedantic, but that also, is what it is. My gut feeling was to go with the double n; that is the tendency in the Queen’s English, and its South African offshootdialect. However, seeing as I had already used the single n in my category name, and the concept of couponing is American, I am just rolling with the single n.


Mind Your Language: Adaptor vs Adapter

Yet another word that I’ve been using two spellings for 50/50, sometimes even within the same document (to my horror).

From Wikipedia:

An adapter or adaptor is a device that converts attributes of one electrical device or system to those of an otherwise incompatible device or system. Some modify power or signal attributes, while others merely adapt the physical form of one electrical connector to another.


Both spellings are used in both British and American English.

Ha! I’m leaning more towards adapter. It just feels right.


Mind Your Language: Anymore

Here’s another one that I’ve apparently been using wrong about 50% of the time:

The difference in meaning considered useful by the third camp is that “anymore” is an adverb meaning “nowadays” or “any longer”, while “any more” can be either adverb plus adjective, as in “I don’t want any more pie”, or adjective plus noun, as in “I don’t want any more.”

The difference between the two meanings is illustrated in the sentence: “I don’t buy books anymore because I don’t need any more books.”

Fry close up


Mind Your Language: Everytime

(View other posts in my Mind Your Language series.)

I think when I use this word, it’s 50/50 everytime, and 50/50 every time. I realised it was time to end my nonsense once and for all.

Everytime should be written as two separate words: every time.

While some compound words like everywhere and everyone have become commonplace in the English language everytime is not considered an acceptable compound word.

Wrong: You don’t need to remind me to do the dishes everytime.
Right: You don’t need to remind me to do the dishes every time.


Mind Your Language: Guesstimate

I heard someone use this word the other day, so as I am inclined to do these days, I googled the correct usage of this word. By googled, of course I mean I went to look on Wikipedia:

Guesstimate is an informal English portmanteau of guess and estimate, first used by American statisticians in 1934 or 1935. It is defined as an estimate made without using adequate or complete information, or, more strongly, as an estimate arrived at by guesswork or conjecture.

I was surprised that the first usage was by actual scientific types back in the day. I decided to look up more info. Basically what it boils down to is that an estimate is made based on previous experience, while a guesstimate is made based on what you think your estimate would be if you had the previous experience natch.