5 Facts About the English Language That Will Impress Your Friends

Woman reading book -- 5 Facts about the English Language that will impress your friends

I love the English language – especially in its written form. I love the intricacy of it. I love the possibilities of it.

I especially love the peculiarities of it.

I feel like there’s always something more to learn when it comes to language. I’ve been a professional writer for 17 years, now, and I still look something up almost every day to make sure I’ve written it correctly.

So today’s post is just for fun.

And to give you some trivia to share at your next cocktail party.

Without further ado, here are five facts about the English language that will impress your friends.

1. Abbreviations “i.e.” and “e.g.” are not interchangeable.

The first is the abbreviation of the Latin term id est, and it means “that is” or “in other words.”

The second is the abbreviation of the Latin term exempli gratia, and it means “for example.”

2. Farther and further are also not interchangeable.

Farther refers to a physical distance. “How much farther until we get to Disneyland?”

Further refers to a figurative distance. “Nothing could be further from my mind.”

3. There was no punctuation until the 15th century.

How in the world did anyone know how to read a sentence without punctuation That just seems crazy to me You lose so much information without knowing the inflection Am I asking a question, or excited about something

I’m happy to have punctuation today, thank you very much.

4. If you place a comma before the word “and” at the end of a list, this is known as an “Oxford comma” or “serial comma.”

For example: “I like dogs, cats, and birds.”

If you ever want to see a brawl, get a bunch of copywriters together in a room and ask them if the Oxford comma should or shouldn’t be used. (For the record, unless the sentence really needs it in order to make logical sense, I am NOT a fan of the Oxford comma.)

5. “A lot” is two words. Always.

That’s right “alot” is not a word.

Now I’d love to hear from you. Send me a tweet at @horizonpeak and tell me what fun facts about the English language make you feel extra-smart for knowing them — or just give you a good laugh.

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