Reference – English language


Each language has its own rules and exceptions. Some of them just don’t stick in our memory, no matter how hard we try to remember them. So, here are a set of random rules of the English language that I tend to either forget or confuse.

How to write dates:

  • Monday, June 27, 2020 (US), Monday, 27 June 2020 (UK)
  • … but June 27th, 2020 in spoken language
  • [… on] the 27th of June
  • Centuries: 20th century, 2000s, or twentieth century [Jan 1, 1901-Dec 31, 2000]
  • Decades: ’80s (with apostrophe), the eighties

Diction, spelling and grammar:

  • hundred, thousand, million, billion: 1 billion, 2 billion (without s), 4.5 billion. But “on planet Earth there are billionS of people” (Source: Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries). The same with million: a, one, two, several, etc. million without a final ‘s’ on ‘million’. Millions (of…) can be used if there is no number or quantity before it. Always use a plural verb with million or millions, except when an amount of money is mentioned: Four million (people) were affected.Two million (pounds) was withdrawn from the account.
    Hint: the rule of singular verb for money is discrepant between English and Italian.
  • whether (disjunctive, used as a function word usually with correlative _or_ or with _or whether_ to indicate (1) until the early 19th century a direct question involving alternatives; (2) an indirect question involving stated or implied alternative, source Merriam-Webster ) and wether (a male sheep).
    Hint: the disjunctive has the initial “h” as what, when, where.
  • ‘It is I’ vs. ‘It is Me’: interesting article on the Merriam-Webster about the use of copulative verbs and the predicate nominative https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/it-is-i-or-it-is-me-predicate-nominative-usage-guide .