Appendix III: Word Wise





A common metaphor in the worlds of business and education, but it should be remembered that targets are properly hit, not achieved, attained, met
or reached.


targeted, targeting – (UK & US)
targetted, targetting – (UK disputed)

Burchfield insists on targeted and targeting1 The Oxford Compendium offers the double t versions as options in British English.2



Tautologies are statements that are necessarily true, but it does not follow that they are meaningless. Descartes’ I think, therefore I am was a
landmark in western philosophy despite its being tautologous, and informal expressions such as Thanks, I really appreciate it and Yes, I agree  are 
perfectly excusable. Even Enough’s enough! and A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do have contextual meanings. Tautologies are pernicious only
when they are proffered as empirical statements: It is a law of nature that only the fittest survive.

(See tautologies in Fallacies.)


teetotal, teetotaller – (UK)
teetotal, teetotaler – (US)


telltale – (n.) (recommended)
tell-tale – (n.) (variant)

The hyphenated version is also used as the adjective (a tell-tale smile).


that that.

That can often be omitted, both as a conjunction (He said that he might be late for dinner; I'm glad that you could make it) and as a pronoun (How
is the car that Ian sold you?
; His attitude was that of someone who simply didn't care). But when used successively as a conjunction and a pronoun, 
the meaning is more clearly conveyed without omissions
He waved his hand dismissively and said that that was an end of the matter.


that, which, who, whose.

In formal English, who is used only with people, especially when the person is specific: I think Evans is the candidate who is best suited to the job
(although the actual words who is are often omitted for brevity). When the person i
s representative of a group, either who or that may be used: Evans
is one of the three candidates who
(or that) seem well suited to the job. All other nouns – whether living, inanimate or conceptual  take that in
essential clauses (
There's the tabby that sleeps on our window sill) and which in inessential clauses (The tabby, which you see over there, is the
one that sleeps on our window sill
). But while who is exclusive to people, whose can be applied to all tangible things: There's the tabby whose
kittens were fortunately found new homes
; That's the house whose roof was damaged in the storm.

(See also entry in pronouns and essential and inessential clauses.)


theatre – (UK)
theater – (US)


theft, robbery.

Robbery is theft accompanied by violence or the threat of violence.


there is, there are.

An overuse of such phrases makes for tedious reading, particularly as opening sentences of essays or a succession of paragraphs.

(See expletive sentences.)


they, their, them.

These are plural pronouns, but their ungrammatical use in the singular is often excused on the grounds of avoiding sex bias: Not every voter who
applied for one received their postal ballot paper
; the caller withheld their number.

(See their, them, themselves and the generic he)


till, until.

Far from being a truncated form of until, till is the older word, but modern usage declares it to be informal.


tiro – (UK) a beginner or novice.
tyro – (US and increasingly UK) tiro.



The appellations, Ms, Miss, Mrs, Mr, Dr, etc., are now written without points. Both The Guardian3 and The Times4 use the default Ms when a woman’s 
preference is unknown. Royal and clerical titles are written with capital initials when they refer to specific offices (the Prince of Wales, the Archbishop
of Canterbury
) but not when they are used generally (a Saudi prince, the consecration of bishops). Political parties and specific political offices are 
afforded the same dignity by The Times (Labour PartyPrime MinisterHome Secretary), but not by The Guardian (Labour party, prime ministerhome 
). These newspapers treat the definite article of proper nouns in the same way: The Times, the Guardian.

(See also capitals and job titles.)


toilet – (current)
lavatory – (obsolescent)

But The Times still opts for lavatory.5


tolerance, toleration.

Both words mean the capacity or willingness to tolerate: religious tolerance or religious toleration. Tolerance only is correct in engineering 


ton – a unit of weight equivalent to 2,240 lbs (1,016.05 kg).
tonne – (a metric ton) a unit of weight equivalent to 2,205 lbs (1,000 kg).


towards – (UK)
toward – (US)

(See -ward(s) suffixes.)


trademark – (current)
trade mark 
– (obsolescent)

(See compound nouns.)


tranquil, tranquillise (-ize), tranquillity, tranquilliser (-zer), tranquilly – (UK)
tranquil, tranquilize, tranquility, tranquilizer, tranquilly– (US)

(See also -ise- and -ize-ending verbs.)


trans. – translated by.



To transpire is to ‘leak out’, ‘be revealed by degrees’ or ‘gradually emerge’: During the interrogation, it transpired that the suspect had been nowhere
near the scene of the crime
. Purists maintain that the word is misapplied merely to mean ‘happen’, ‘occur’, ‘take place’, ‘become apparent’ or ‘come
to be known’: When he checked his diary, it transpired that he had missed the meeting (technically incorrect).


transsexual – (recommended)
transexual – (variant)


travel, travelled, travelling, traveller – (UK)
travel, traveled, traveling, traveler – (US)


try and – (disputed)
try to – (correct)

Try to remember; try to do your best; try to be more careful.


tsar – (UK)
czar – (US)


tubercular, tuberculous.

Both words are in use as adjectives of tuberculosis, but tuberculous is medically preferred.


turbid – muddy, cloudy, thick, unclear (especially of water); confused, disordered.
turgid – swollen, distended; (of language) extravagant, pompous.


turn over – (v.) The business is expected to turn over £100,000 this year.
turnover – (n.) Last year’s turnover was £75,000.


turn up, turn down, turn on, turn off, turn in, turn out, etc.

Such expressions are called phrasal verbs (simple verbs followed by prepositions or adverbs), and there are dozens of them. Besides the turns
there are the backs, the breaks, the brings, the lets, the stands, the takes and many more. They are particularly common in the United States
where many of them seem to originate (back off, check out, kick in, wise up), but only the most established are considered appropriate to formal 
British English. Thus turn down ‘decline’ is more acceptable than turn up ‘appear’, turn out ‘come to pass’, turn in ‘retire to bed’ or turn on ‘excite’. 
The same phrasal verb can even be more acceptable with one meaning than with another. Thus carry on is more acceptable as ‘continue’ than as 
‘persistently complain’ or ‘engage in an adulterous affair’. Discretion is the only guide.


TV, T.V., tv, t.v.



tyres – on British cars.
tires – on American cars.



1 R. W. Burchfield, The New Fowler’s Modern English Usage, Third Revised Edition, OUP, 1998.
2 The Oxford Compendium Concise Dictionary, 9th Edition, OUP, 1995.
3 The Guardian Style Guide. Multiple access, 2002
The Times Style Guide. No longer available on line. Multiple access, 200203.
The Times Style Guide.



























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