dis- versus dys-

Someone wrote in asking what the rule is for changing dis- to dys-.

Actually, there is no rule for changing one to the other, as far as I know. Instead, the two prefixes come from different sources.

  • dis- is a Latin prefix with a number of meanings. It is by far the more common of the two prefixes.
  • dys- has its origin in the Greek prefix meaning “bad.”

Whether to use one or the other depends entirely on the word and its origin.

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Grammatical Sentence Types

Sentences can be classified in a number of ways–grammatically, rhetorically, functionally, and so on. One visitor to this site asks about grammatical sentence types: “How [do I] tell the difference between Compound, Simple, Complex, Compound-Complex sentences?”

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then and than

A visitor to the site asked about “when to use “than” or “then.” Here is the answer…

Posted in usage | 6 Comments

Pronouncing "the" Definite Article

Two people in the past week have requested information on pronouncing the definite article, “the.” This issue lies outside my area of expertise, so I can’t reply with authority. What I can offer instead is the consensus among the results of a quick Google search, which happens to coincide with what my opera-singing sister-in-law thinks…

Posted in general | 4 Comments

I versus Me

I just received an excellent question about proper first-person pronoun usage. The issue is tough to resolve because sometimes grammatical correctness takes a back seat to common usage, and rightly so. Now, on to the question: “I am a teacher in South Africa and recently found a worksheet with the heading “Me and My Environment”. Is this heading grammatically correct and would it be appropriate to hand out to the children (I don’t want parents turning around and complaining)”

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Affect and Effect

Mable Scott asks, “What is the rule for using affect or effect?”

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Comma with Also

When begining a sentence with “also,” do I have to put a comma after “also?”

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non sequitur

A reader asks: The following sentence has been supplied by a client to use in a print project. A) The Application Form a person who wishes to make a claim will use I know it’s wrong and I think I … Continue reading 

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Possessive Form of Singular Nouns Ending with S

Many people struggle with the possessive case of singular nouns when the words already end with s. The general rule is this: Form the possessive singular of nouns with ‘s. Here are some examples: James‘s cat Mrs. Jones‘s attorney Dr. … Continue reading 

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Me Myself or I

Time for the English Master to settle another contentious grammar issue, before someone gets hurt. Pat asks:
My friend and I were having a dispute about when to use “me” correctly in a sentence that’s referring to two people. If I were to say something along the lines as, “Is that meat okay for Bob and I/me to eat?” would I use I or me? If I were to eliminate Bob from the sentence, it would be correct to say “Is that meat okay for me to eat?” So why would I change me to I?

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