Where were “should”, “shall”, and “must” in the 18th Century?

According to the following Google Ngram, in the U.K. the modals should, shall, and must were virtually missing from English writing during the 18th Century (I’ve added will for a comparison modal which was unaffected). I have never seen this mentioned anywhere, and I couldn’t find it in a brief web search. What happened? Was … Read more

What’s the difference between “requester” and “requestor”?

Both are in dictionaries. I’ve heard people insist “requester” is correct for a person who requests something, and that “requestor” is wrong there, leaving me to wonder how it is used. Requestor happens to be marked as an error in my browser’s spellchecker. COCA for requester/requestor indicates that requester is used for people and requestor … Read more

“log in to” or “log into” or “login to”

When writing an instruction about connecting to a computer using ssh, telnet, etc., I’m not sure what spacing to use in this familiar spoken phrase: “Log in to host.com” “Log into host.com” “Login to host.com” Maybe this is entirely subjective or the realm of industry jargon, but I couldn’t think of anywhere else to ask. … Read more

When should I use an em-dash, an en-dash, and a hyphen?

I generally know how to use a hyphen, but when should I use an en-dash (–) instead of an em-dash, or when should I use a hyphen (-) instead of an em-dash (—)? Answer An em-dash is typically used as a stand-in for a comma or parenthesis to separate out phrases—or even just a word—in … Read more

What is the correct way to pluralize an acronym / initialism?

For example, if I wanted to write the equivalent of There are many automated teller machines in this city. Would it be There are many ATMs in this city. or There are many ATM’s in this city. (could get confused with possessive form or contraction). or just There are many ATM in this city. (assuming … Read more