Tag Archives: spelling

‘Less’ or ‘Fewer’?

Often, ‘less’ is used when ‘fewer’ is meant. This is easily done, particularly as we are often taught that ‘less’ is the opposite of ‘more’. Basically, use ‘fewer’ when talking about a countable number, but ‘less’ when you mean something that doesn’t have a plural or can’t be counted: ‘fewer dancers have less visual impact.’


‘Fewer people are learning the foxtrot at school these days.’

‘The shop sold fewer feather boas than ever before this year.’

‘Fewer than one in ten adults can perform a proper samba.’

‘There are fewer dance numbers in films than there used to be.’



‘I dance to less pop music than I used to.’

‘There’s less talent than there ought to be.’

‘I should spend less time trying to do the lift from Dirty Dancing.’

‘Less’ is only ever used with numbers when they are on their own or used as expressions  of time or measurement: 


‘The tap class lasted less than two hours.’

‘She travelled less than three metres with that leap.’


I hope this will help you make fewer errors in the future!

Please like and share if you’ve found this helpful!

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Silent Letters

A silent letter is a letter that is part of a word’s written spelling, but is not pronounced when the word is read out loud.

Why do silent letters exist? 

This varies depending on the etymology of each word. Generally, silent letterssilent letters often occur in words originally adopted from other languages that have been subsumed into English. Many of our words have roots in Latin, German, French or Dutch. Moreover, in some words the now silent letters would have been pronounced in the past as in Medieval times, for example, much of the language was more phonetic. Pronunciations change over time. 

Are there rules to learn? 

Unfortunately, there are few spelling rules that tell us when to use a silent letter, but there are general guidelines on whether a letter should be pronounced or not. For example:

is usually silent before the letters and T: lamb, plumber, comb, tomb & subtle, debt, doubt. 

G is silent before an N: gnome, resign, foreigner.

Also, is silent before as in diaphragm. 

The more you learn, the more patterns you will see.

So, what is the best way to learn silent letters? 

Practice is the key- perhaps you could have a go at making sentences with as many silent letters in as possible. It may initially be beneficial  to pronounce the silent letter in your head to help you to remember the spelling. Also, highlight the silent letters, as above, or write them in a different colour to make them stand out to you. Read more about them here or try the quiz here.

Could you give some more examples? 

I would be delighted! Perhaps you would like them in sentences, just for a change. See if you can spot the silent letters in the following:

Silent N: Last Autumn, hymns were all we could hear coming from the church with the columns at the end of our road. 

Silent D: The handsome man trimmed his hedge on Wednesday, with the help of a badger.

Silent U: When my guest left, I discovered the rogue had stolen a biscuit and a guitar.

Silent H: Which ghost could be knocking on the door with such an insistent rhythm at this hour? Honestly!

Surprised cowSilent T: The witch bought a castle, but often missed mortgage repayments.

Silent K: The knight knew that a knife to the knee would knock him, but a knitting needle to the knee was far worse!

Silent L: The calf was calm until it saw a salmon walk and talk. 

Silent W: Two wrens wrestled for the sword.

Do let me know if you can think of any more- I’d love to read your silent letter sentences. Please like and share if you found this helpful!




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Spelling Inconsistencies

Some words in our language are in variation. This means that you can spell them in more than one way and still be right. The only thing you have to be careful of is using just one form of the spelling in each document. Using either form throughout is fine, but never both. The easiest way to sort this out in a long document is to do a ‘find/replace’. Publishers will often have a style guide which says which they prefer so that all their titles are consistent.

Here are some common examples:

Millie Mackintosh wearing a macintosh. Point made, I think...

Millie Mackintosh wearing a macintosh. I’m all about popular culture when there’s a lexical point to be made.





Here are some others I’ve come across:





In case you're not aware of Made in Chelsea, have a picture of some cheese instead.

Emmental: in case you’re not aware of Made in Chelsea, have a picture of some cheese instead.





Sometimes variations happen because of influences from other languages and cultures, sometimes it’s just modernisation (modernization?), others have always been in contention.

Can you think of any more examples?

As always, I’d be very interested to hear if this is something you’ve come across and do please share if you’ve found this helpful! Thanks for reading!



Filed under Common Errors, Proofreading