Concatenating zoölogical onomatopœia since 1999

About Mooquackwooftweetmeow

Hi! This is Mooquackwooftweetmeow, a collection of stuff by Greg K Nicholson.


I don't like being wrong. I like it even less when everyone else is wrong and I can't (or shouldn't) tell them, for reasons of etiquette. I suppose I'm just finicky, which is why I spend quite a bit of time reviewing my own websites, Here and There, enjoying their majesty. Or something.

It's OK when I don't know that a rule is being broken, or that something is just wrong. Unfortunately, I'm also just a little bit curious, so I eventually learn the rules, and then notice when things disobey them.

...which brings me to the semantics of the English language. Read the following:

  • Practise is the verb; practice is the noun - think advise/advice.
  • A does not comprise of B and C; A comprises B and C.
  • There's means there is and thus cannot refer to several items - it makes as much sense as several items is...; there are refers to several items (several items are...).
  • Theirs means the item that belongs to them; there's means there is.
  • They is and their is are wrong; there is is right.
  • Must of, as in It must of been cold., is wrong; must have, as in It must have been cold. is right.

And the classics:

  • There refers to a place; their means belonging to them; they're means they are.
  • Your means belonging to you; you're means you are.
  • Its is used like his and hers; it's means it is or it has.

While we're on the topic, some abbreviations:

  • Etc. is pronounced et cetera, not ek cetera, and is not spelt ect..
  • 1 gram is abbreviated to 1 g, not 1 gm; 2 grams is abbreviated to 2 g, not 2 gms - s is never added to SI units' abbreviations when pluralising them.

(By the way, feel free to report any cock-ups in the above to me.)

What prompted all this? Well, it was Andrei's use of Practice, practice, practice as a headline. ...trouble is, it's actually valid to use nouns like that. But we all know he meant Practise, practise, practise, right?

Remember that just because one can speak English effectively doesn't mean one can write English effectively.

About this entry

Writing English correctly is difficult. (By the way, for non-hacker types, the title implies that semantic English is a distinct dialect of English.)

I published this entry on 14 September 2004 when I should've been asleep. That means this is pretty old. Beware parachronisms.

Questions? Comments? Plaudits? Microblog at, or with the tag #mqwtm; or email me at