1. Ghosts in Latin
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    Ghosts in Latin Senior Member

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    "Can not", "in stead", etc.

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Ghosts in Latin, Feb 26, 2009.

    This thread serves two purposes. The first, and fore most is to answer a question.

    Although not orthodox, is it acceptable to split up words like "cannot" into two seperate words?

    The second purpose is to post as many words as you can think of that can be split down the middle, and mean the exact same thing.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Well, to begin with, foremost should not be split down the middle, and neither should instead, at least in US English. UK may vary in that respect, but I doubt it.
     
  3. LeoMars
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    LeoMars Member

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    "Cannot" can be split but certainly not "instead" and "foremost", as Cogito pointed out.
     
  4. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    Most words when split makes a different meaning than the compound word. You shouldn't break them unless you're going for the meaning they form when broken up since they can easily cause confusions. I can't think up of any words that mean exactly the same when broken up other than "can not" at the moment.

    So far, the only way I know of that you can split up words without possible confusions would be to put a hyphen between the words, such as "co-operate and "may-be;" but even this use is uncommon and mostly a style thing.
     
  5. Ghosts in Latin
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    Ghosts in Latin Senior Member

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    Words like "maybe" and "instead" can be split and mean the same exact thing, I believe.

    This is deductive, but I think "instead" comes from "in stead", which can be elongated into "in the stead". 'He broke the window in stead of the chair' makes sense.

    The same is true for words like maybe, foremost , and cannot. It seems as if splitting the words up isn't something much done, though.
     
  6. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    The only word that can be split up and keep the meaning is cannot--but why do it? It reads and looks awkward. For example: "I can not understand that." "I cannot understand that."

    And although the word maybe can be split up, it doesn't keep the same meaning. For example: "It may be a while before I can go." "It maybe a while before I can go." In the first sentence, the words are separated, but notice when I make it into one word in the second sentence it doesn't work because "maybe" and "It may be" have different meanings.
     
  7. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Nope, it's the same over here.

    Whilst I won't make some definite statement about it not being possible, I will say I've never seen it in any word mentioned but cannot.
     
  8. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    'cannot' and 'can not' are used in a slightly different way:
    I cannot see = I can't see = I am not able to see
    You can see, can't you? No, I can not see! OR I can NOT see = ie the 'not' by itself gives emphasis, which is why you should only write it like this if you are being emphatic.

    'may' is a modal here:
    I may have been out when you rang.
    He may be at work.

    'maybe' is used as an adverb here. It can't be split.
    Maybe I was out when you rang.
    Maybe he is at work.
     
  9. Ghosts in Latin
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    Ghosts in Latin Senior Member

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    There's no real reason for splitting them up, which is why I asked if it was acceptable. I can see now, though, how "maybe" and "may be" aren't exactly the same thing.
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    No, may be and maybe are as different as por que (why) and porque (because) in Spanish - somewhat similar, but really quite different.
     
  11. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    In a book I recently completed, they used a hyphen to separate the 'to' in 'to-morrow,' as well as to-day.

    I do not know why.
     
  12. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    'Tis Old English
     
  13. Ghosts in Latin
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    Ghosts in Latin Senior Member

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    I would think it more Middle English, no?
     
  14. Vayda
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    Vayda Senior Member

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    Actually, it'd be an old-fashioned modern English :) Anything Shakespeare or later is linguistically considered Modern English.

    I would be very careful splitting words, because, as has been said, it often changes meanings. Every man and Everyman, for example. Or even, everyday and every day.

    Do remember, though, that "All right" is correct, and "alright" is not really a word!
     
  15. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Same as "a lot", and "alot", which is one of my pet peeves :p
     

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