The word referendum is often used in politics, though the plural form of referendum can be confusing. We will examine the definition of referendum, the correct plural form, where the word came from and some examples of its use in sentences. A referendum is a question or proposal that is submitted to the electorate for a direct vote. A referendum may be used to find out the will of the electorate without making the vote binding, or it may be a binding decision. Referendums are usually … [Read more...]

Plurals of nouns ending in ‘Y’

Spelling rules can get very complicated in the English language. However, the spelling rule for nouns ending in y is fairly straightforward. We will examine that spelling rule, some examples of its application and find out what the one exception is to that rule. If a noun ends in a y that is preceded by a vowel, the plural is formed by simply adding an s to the word. For example, the noun monkey ends in a y preceded by the vowel e, so the plural is formed by simply adding an s as in monkeys. … [Read more...]


Scintilla is a word with an interesting etymology. The etymology of a word is its origin and development through time. We will examine the meaning of the word scintilla, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences. A scintilla is a small trace of something, a tiny particle of something whether it is something physical or something intangible such as an idea or feeling. The word scintilla is borrowed from the Latin, originally meaning a spark, a tiny glimmer of fire. In the … [Read more...]

Close proximity

Close proximity is an expression that is often used in the English language, though it is not an elegant phrase. We will examine the definition of the phrase close proximity, why it may be considered problematic, and some examples of its use in sentences. Close proximity describes something that is near, when discussing placement in space or time or the status of a relationship. Though close proximity is a fairly common phrase, many people consider it a poor use of English grammar. The word … [Read more...]

In toto

In toto is a Latin phrase that is still used to this day. It's is a loan phrase. Loanwords and loan phrases are terms that have been taken from other languages and used as English words and phrases. Another term for a loanword is a borrowed word. We will examine the meaning of the term in toto, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences. The phrase in toto means in all, as a whole, in total, completely or entirely. The Latin phrase in toto has been around since Roman times, … [Read more...]

Stigma, stigmas or stigmata

Stigma is a common word, but the correct rendering of the plural form of stigma can be confusing. We will examine the definition of the words stigma, stigmas and stigmata, where these words came from, the proper plural form and some examples of these words used in sentences, A stigma is a shameful fact, characteristic or action that is attached to a certain person, circumstance or institution. A stigma causes disgrace. In medicine, stigma refers to a visible sign of a disease. The word stigma … [Read more...]

Millennia vs millenniums

A millennium is a time period that spans one thousand years or the one-thousand-year anniversary of something. The plural of millennium may be rendered as millennia or as millenniums. Millennium is a Modern Latin word, derived from the Latin word mille which means thousand and the Latin word annus, which means year. As a Latin word, the plural of millennium is rendered as millennia. However, since millennium is now an appropriated English word, it is also correct to render the plural form as … [Read more...]

Potato and potatoes, tomato and tomatoes

The plural form of potato is potatoes. The plural form of tomato is tomatoes. There are many rules in English for the construction of plural nouns, potatoes and tomatoes are examples of plural nouns that are exceptions to a rule. Some dictionaries list the word potatoe as a variant spelling of potato, this variation doesn't appear to be wide-spread. In general, nouns that end in -o form plurals by simply adding -s, such as volcanos, tacos, zoos. Potato and tomato belong to a set of nouns that … [Read more...]

Curricula vs curriculums

Curricula are the subjects in a course of study at a university or other institution. Curricula is the plural form of curriculum, the alternate plural form is curriculums. The adjective form is curricular. Curricula and curriculums are adapted from the Latin word, curriculum, meaning a running course, career. Latin words appropriated by the English language usually form their plurals by the English method of adding an “s”, however the dropping of -um and adding a is currently the much-preferred … [Read more...]

Formulas vs formulae

Formulas are 1.) mathematical or chemical rules expressed in symbols 2.) specific litanies of words used in ceremonies or proceedings 3.) lists of ingredients used in the preparation of something, such as babies' food or medical prescriptions. Formulas is a plural form of formula, the alternate plural of formula is formulae. Formula is a Latin word that was absorbed into the English language in the 1630s, to mean words used in a ceremony or ritual. In Latin, formula means form, draft, … [Read more...]

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