Appendix III: Word Wise

 

I

 

ib., ibid. – (ibidem) ‘in the same place’ (as the last referenced work).

(See abbreviations.)

 

iconic.

A voguish word used with wearying frequency. Options: emblematic, symbolic.

 

if I was – (non-standard)
if I were – (correct)

(See subjunctive mood.)

 

if, whether.

To express doubt or ask a question, whether is more formal than if: I wonder whether (if) they still live at the same address; He asked the teacher
whether
(if) he could be excused.

(See also doubt if, doubt that, doubt whether and whether, whether or not.)

 

ignoratio elenchi.

The logical fallacy of drawing irrelevant conclusions or the ruse of addressing one argument while purporting to address another.

(See the straw man fallacy.) 

 

illicit – forbidden by law; immoral; breaking social rules.
elicit – draw out, evoke.

Illicit can thus be ambiguous. Illicit drugs are illegal drugs, but illicit sex might mean illegal sex or just morally reprehensible sex.

 

impact.

Impact is more acceptable in British English as a noun than a verb, despite the verb being older. Options: affectaltercollide with, crashimpress,
strike.

 

impracticable – impossible to put into practice.
impractical – unworkable; not likely to work or work well; not useful.

 

inadvisable, unadvisable.

Optional, but inadvisable is generally preferred for ‘unwise’, and unadvisable for ‘unresponsive to advice’: I told him it was inadvisable to invest so
much money in that company, but he wouldn’t listen; he’s just unadvisable
.

 

inamorata – a female lover.
inamorato – a male lover.

 

inasmuch as – to the extent that.

Written thus as two words.

 

in connection with.

Verbose for about.

(See also clichés, pleonasms and verbosity.)

 

incredible, incredulous.

Incredible – not credible, unbelievable: The Chancellor’s remark that the economy is improving was incredible. Incredulous – unable to believe: The
House listened to him incredulously
.

 

indexes – alphabetical lists at the end of books.
indices – used in science and mathematics only.

 

induce – (n. inducement) bring about, bring on; persuade.
induct – (n. induction) introduce to office, initiate.

 

inflammable – (obsolete)
flammable – (current)

Long out of use, flammable was revived in the 20th century in order to avoid the danger of construing inflammable as ‘not easily ignited’. The 
negative is non-flammable.

 

inflection, inflexion.

Optional.

(See -xion endings.)

 

informant, informer.

Informant – one who provides information.
Informer – one who provides detrimental information on another person (especially to the police).

 

in so far as – (UK)
insofar as – (US)

 

install (or instal), instalment – (UK)
install, installment – (US)

Install is the recommended spelling in British English, but always installed, installing, installation.

 

instil – (UK)
instill – (US)

But always instilled, instilling, instilment, instillation.


inter alia – among other things.

 

interface with.

Pretentious for interact with.

 

in terms of.

Usually verbose for as, by or in: Medicine has made considerable progress in (rather than in terms of) combating infertility; He saw the world as his
playground
; Writers need to understand readers by their expectations and linguistic standards.

(See also clichés, pleonasms and verbosity).

 

in the circumstances, under the circumstances.

Optional. Circum (‘about’ or ‘around’) would seem overwhelmingly to put the case for in the circumstances, but Burchfield points out that under the
circumstances
is older by almost 200 years.1 The Oxford Compendium,2 The Oxford Reference,3 Random House4 and Webster’s5 all permit both
expressions.

 

in to, into.

In to is used when to means ‘in order to’: I called in to see how she was; If it rains tonight, I think I’ll stay in to watch television. Into is used to signify 
direction or motion towards, both literally and figuratively: She didn’t want to go night-clubbing in case she ran into her boyfriend;The children decided
to play truant from school, even though they knew it might get them into trouble
. Thus: When I dropped my watch into the pool, I jumped in to retrieve
it
.

 

invite.

Strictly a verb in British English. We receive invitations, not invites.

 

inwards, outwards – (UK)
inward, outward – (US)

(See -ward(s) suffixes.)

 

iridescent – so spelt.

 

ironic – (current)
ironical – (obsolescent)

 

-isation – (UK)
-ization – (US & UK)

All nouns ending in -ization may alternatively be spelt -isation in British English, as they generally are in both The Guardian6 and The Times.7 In
American English, -ization endings are almost always obligatory.

(See also next entry.)

 

-ise- and -ize-ending verbs.

Spelling. In most cases, -ise and -ize endings are optional in British English with a general preference for the former (both The Guardian8 and
The Times9 opt for -ise). In American English, -ize endings are usually compulsory. Some verbs, however, take obligatory -ise endings in both
forms of the language, the examples cited by Burchfield being advertise, advise, apprise, arisechastise, circumcise, comprise, compromise,
despise, devise, disguise, enfranchise, exercise, franchise, improvise, incisemerchandise, prise (open), revise, supervise, surmisesurprise
and televise. Capsize, on the other hand, is always spelt thus.10 Usage. Americans have a fondness for transforming nouns and adjectives into
-
ize-ending verbs and, while this practice often makes for a greater economy of words (hospitalized rather than taken to hospital), it should be
borne in mind
 that the new words are often objected to in British English. Hospitalized, in fact, whether spelt thus or with -ise, is forbidden by
both
The Guardian11 and The Times,12 The Guardian also objecting to finalize. In time, of course, the new verbs often settle into the language.
Few people now object to
 computerise, democratise, globalise, pedestrianise and  prioritise, or to their new concomitant nouns (computerisation
etc.). But newcomers are almost always treated with derision. Burchfield cites the example of a woman whose unplanned pregnancy led her to
regret that she had not had her
 partner condomized.13 In any event, the new verb should be avoided when there is a perfectly adequate one
already in existence:
burgle, not burglarise; pressure, not pressurise.

(See also legitimate, legitimatise, legitimise).

 

…is when…

Substandard in definitions: Polygamy is when you can legally take more than one husband or wife (Polygamy is the legal practice of taking more
than one husband or wife
); Anarchy is when there is no government (Anarchy is the absence of government).

 

italics.

Italics are used to cite books, newspapers, films, plays, long poems, works of art and foreign words. Single quotation marks are used to cite short 
stories, articles, essays and short poems.

(See italics and quotation marks.)

 

its, it’s.

This common confusion results from mistaking possession for contraction and vice versa. The apostrophe is not used with the possessive pronoun
its: The car took the bend too fast and ended up on its side (the side of or belonging to the car). The apostrophe is used to indicate a contraction:
It’s (it is) not surprising that the driver was badly injured.

(See the apostrophe.)

 

I wish I was / I wish I were.

(See the subjunctive mood.)

 

____________

1 R. W. Burchfield (ed.) The New Fowler's Modern English Usage, Third Revised Edition, OUP, Oxford, 1998.
2 The Oxford Compendium Concise Dictionary, 9th Edition, OUP, 1995.
3 The Oxford English Reference Dictionary, OUP, Oxford, 1996.
4 The Random House Dictionary of the English Language, Random House, New York, 1967.
5 Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, Kö
nemann, 1993.
6 The Guardian Style Guide. Multiple access, 2002
03.
7 The Times Style Guide. No longer available on line. Multiple access, 200203.
8 The Guardian Style Guide.
9 The Times Style Guide.
10 Burchfield, op. cit.
11The Guardian Style Guide.
12 The Times Style Guide.
13 Burchfield, op. cit.