Some interesting facts about English:
- The most common letter in English is “e”.
- The most common vowel in English is “e”, followed by “a”.
- The most common consonant in English is “r”, followed by “t”.
- Every syllable in English must have a vowel (sound). Not all syllables have consonants.
- Only two English words in current use end in “-gry”. They are “angry” and “hungry”.
- The word “bookkeeper” is the only unhyphenated English word with 3 consecutive repeated letters. Words such as “cross-section” and “bee-eater” normally require a hyphen to be readily readable.
- The word “triskaidekaphobia” means “fear of Friday the 13th”. It also means “superstition about the number thirteen” in general.
- More English words begin with the letter “s” than with any other letter.
- A preposition is always followed by a noun (i.e noun, proper noun, pronoun, noun group, gerund).
- The word “uncopyrightable” is the longest English word in normal use that contains no letter more than once.
- A sentence that contains all 26 letters of the alphabet is called a “pangram”.
- The following sentence contains all 26 letters of the alphabet: “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” This sentence is often used to test typewriters or keyboards.
- The only word in English that ends with the letters “-mt” is “dreamt” (which is a variant spelling of “dreamed”) – as well of course as “undreamt” 🙂
- A word formed by joining together parts of existing words is called a “blend” (or, less commonly, a “portmanteau word”). Many new words enter the English language in this way. Examples are “brunch” (breakfast + lunch); “motel” (motorcar + hotel); and “guesstimate” (guess + estimate). Note that blends are not the same as compounds or compound nouns, which form when two whole words join together, for example: website, blackboard, darkroom.
- The word “alphabet” comes from the first two letters of the Greek alphabet: alpha, bēta.
- The dot over the letter “i” and the letter “j” is called a “superscript dot”.
- In normal usage, the # symbol has several names, for example: hash, pound sign, number sign.
- In English, the @ symbol is usually called “the at sign” or “the at symbol”.
- If we place a comma before the word “and” at the end of a list, this is known as an “Oxford comma” or a “serial comma”. For example: “I drink coffee, tea, and wine.”
- Some words exist only in plural form, for example: glasses (spectacles), binoculars, scissors, shears, tongs, gallows, trousers, jeans, pants, pyjamas (but note that clothing words often become singular when we use them as modifiers, as in “trouser pocket”).
- The shortest complete sentence in English is the following. “I am.”
- The word “Checkmate” in chess comes from the Persian phrase “Shah Mat” meaning “the king is helpless”.
- We pronounce the combination “ough” in 9 different ways, as in the following sentence which contains them all: “A rough-coated, dough-faced, thoughtful ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough; after falling into a slough, he coughed and hiccoughed.”
- The longest English word without a true vowel (a, e, i, o or u) is “rhythm”.
- The only planet not named after a god is our own, Earth. The others are, in order from the Sun, Mercury, Venus, [Earth,] Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune.
- There are only 4 English words in common use ending in “-dous”: hazardous, horrendous, stupendous, and tremendous.
- We can find 10 words in the 7-letter word “therein” without rearranging any of its letters: the, there, he, in, rein, her, here, ere, therein, herein.
- The following sentence contains 7 identical words in a row and still makes sense. “It is true for all that that that that that that that refers to is not the same that that that that refers to.” (= It is true for all that that that that which that that refers to is not the same that which that that refers to.)
- The “QWERTY keyboard” gains its name from the fact that its first 6 letter keys are Q, W, E, R, T and Y. On early typewriters the keys were arranged in such a way as to minimize the clashing of the mechanical rods that carried the letters.
N. Huy (st)
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