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There Their They're


Knitter of the Scarf
The de- prefix can also mean "the act of", e.g., debar, denude. In this case, it means to stand at fence, where fence really means fortification.


Knitter of the Scarf
DPK - you're not dealing with what the de- prefix meant in Latin. The prefix is used in many ways in English, according to the OED, as meaning down, away, to exhaustion, as a negative, as a reversal, to undo a compound, and so on. However, since many of these words came into English through French, and then adapted to fit in with English analogies, it can often be used in an almost meaningless way (like my examples, above).


George Smith (75)
Staff member
Can I just say how much I am loving this thread? Pedant's Corner...sounds like a wine for really annoying people.


Knitter of the Scarf
Like "denounce"? So, in simple terms, de- can be used to make a verb?

Well, there it's being used in the negative sense. But in "declaim" it does very little to "claim" except make it bigger. Or "denote" is to note in a more outward way. So the de- has a weak meaning in those cases meaning to speak out, so it's like claim-out or note-out.

But you seem to be right that the de- prefix is strongly associated with verbs.

[nerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrd]This is fun, isn't it?[/nerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrd]


Peter Sullivan (51)


Tony Shaw (54)
In a similar vein I get the shuts when people confuse you're and your.

And what of the scandalous regularity of the misuse of 'it's' and 'its'. Many writers seem utterly clueless - and, worse, uncaring - as to the difference. (That is why I am glad to see a teachers' union departing the ACTU, perhaps they are going in for some voluntary retraining in the tuition of elementary grammer and speelling.) Truly dreadful this 'it's' and 'its' crisis, and far more regular than any other of the unfortunate delinquencies identified hereto in this noble thread.


Peter Johnson (47)
Staff member
The it's versus its one is harder to get right because of the stupidly complex English language.
I'm usually more forgiving on that one.


Knitter of the Scarf
It's = "it is" obeys the normal rules for contractions.

No possessive pronouns take an apostrophe: its, his, hers, ours, theirs.


Peter Johnson (47)
Staff member
Honest mistake. I read that thing three times before I posted it. I said to myself "Make sure there are no mistakes. You are having a go at people's grammar."

Lo and behold I skip over it.


Peter Johnson (47)
Staff member
I love this poem

I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble, but not you
On hiccough, thorough, slough, and through.
Well don't! And now you wish, perhaps,
To learn of less familiar traps.
Beware of heard, a dreadful word
That looks like beard but sounds like bird.
And dead: it's said like bed, not bead,
For goodness sake don't call it deed!
Watch out for meat and great and threat
(They rhyme with suite and straight and debt).
A moth is not a moth as in mother
Nor both as in bother, nor broth as in brother,
And here is not a match for there,
Nor dear and fear, for bear and pear.
And then there's dose and rose and lose--
Just look them up--and goose and choose
And cork and work and card and ward
And font and front and word and sword
And do and go, then thwart and cart,
Come, come! I've hardly made a start.
A dreadful Language? Why man alive!
I learned to talk it when I was five.
And yet to write it, the more I tried,
I hadn't learned it at fifty-five.