Appendix III: Word Wise




naïve, naive.

The modern tendency, exemplified by both The Guardian1 and The Times,2 is to omit the diaeresis.

(See also diacritics.)


naturalist – one who studies nature.
naturist – a nudist; one who advocates a simple back-to-nature way of life.


N.B. – (nota bene) ‘note well’. Take note; mark what follows. Now often written without the points.


n.d. – 'no date (of publication)'. Used in referencing systems.

(See abbreviations.)


near by, nearby.

Near by – (adv.) The prime minister mingled with the crowd, but his security guards were near by. Nearby – (adj.) The property is well situated with 
a nearby shopping centre
. The Guardian uses the one-word form in both capacities.3


neither is, neither are.

Grammatically, singular verbs for singular nouns: Neither Jill nor her partner is a smoker; neither smokes. Plural verbs for plural nouns: Neither the
Liberal Democrats nor the Tories are strong enough to take the seat from Labour
; neither really expect to

(See also either, neither, none.)


net – (US & UK) remaining after deductions.
nett– (UK) (variant)

Burchfield insists on net.4 


Netherlands – the country.
Holland – a region in the western part of the Netherlands.

To avoid ambiguity, Holland is no longer considered synonymous with the Netherlands.


nevertheless, not never the less.

(See also none the less, nonetheless.)



Nice means ‘subtle’, ‘fine’, ‘exact’ or ‘discriminating’: In her lecture on D.H.Lawrence, the professor made a nice distinction between erotica and
. The colloquial meaning of ‘pleasant’, ‘agreeable’ or ‘enjoyable’ should be avoided in formal English.


none is, none are.

Construed as ‘not one’, none must grammatically take singular verbs: None of the students is keen on the subject; none finds it interesting. But the
word can also be construed as ‘not any’ so that
, contrary to popular opinion, it can be used with plural verbs (He searched the cupboard for tea bags
but there were none
(weren't any) there).  

(See either, neither, none.)


none the less, nonetheless.

Most sources recommend nonetheless.

(See also nevertheless.)


normality – (UK)
normalcy – (US)


northwards, southwards, eastwards, westwards – (UK)
northward, southward, eastward, westward – (US)

(See -ward(s) suffixes.)


nosy – (recommended)
nosey – (variant)


n. p. – 'no place (of publication)'. Used in referencing systems.

(See abbreviations.)


n. pag. – 'no pagination'. Used in referencing systems.

(See abbreviations.)


the number was, a number were.

(See nouns expressing quantities.)


nutritional – to do with nutrition: nutritional value.
nutritious – nourishing: a nutritious meal.



1 The Guardian Style Guide. Multiple access, 200203.
2 The Times Style Guide. No longer available on line. Multiple access, 200203.
3 The Guardian Style Guide.
4 R. W. Burchfield (ed.), The New Fowlers Modern English Usage, Third Revised Edition, OUP, Oxford, 1998.


























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