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    • Join Date: Oct 2006
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    #1

    "lowercase"

    I need a little help picking some nits.

    The dictionary recognizes "lowercase" as a term to describle a minuscule letter, but what about "lower-case" and "lower case"? Please consider this context:

    "Place a lowercase 'n' in the blank."

    Intuitively, "lower-case" would seem to be acceptable as an adjective because the hyphen combines "lower" and "case" into a single modifier. But because "lowercase" is already a word, does that mean "lowercase" should be used and "lower-case" should not? And if "lower-case" IS acceptable, then would that imply that "lower case" is as well?

    In the online dictionaries I checked, I found listings for neither "lower-case" nor "lower case".

    Please forgive me for usings conjunctions at the beginning of two of my sentences. :)

    Thank you for your help.

  1. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: "lowercase"

    Quote Originally Posted by MadWillieJ View Post
    I need a little help picking some nits.

    The dictionary recognizes "lowercase" as a term to describle a minuscule letter, but what about "lower-case" and "lower case"? Please consider this context:

    "Place a lowercase 'n' in the blank."

    Intuitively, "lower-case" would seem to be acceptable as an adjective because the hyphen combines "lower" and "case" into a single modifier. But because "lowercase" is already a word, does that mean "lowercase" should be used and "lower-case" should not? And if "lower-case" IS acceptable, then would that imply that "lower case" is as well?

    In the online dictionaries I checked, I found listings for neither "lower-case" nor "lower case".

    Please forgive me for usings conjunctions at the beginning of two of my sentences. :)

    Thank you for your help.
    Both "lowercase" and "lower-case" are accepted. As a prepositive adjective, "lower case" should at least be hyphenated. As a predicate adjective, even "lower case" should be all right. This is an example of a common process in English. Separate words that are combined for a specific meaning often go through a process of hyphenation followed by complete merging. This one is still in transition.

  2. BobK's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: "lowercase"

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    Both "lowercase" and "lower-case" are accepted. As a prepositive adjective, "lower case" should at least be hyphenated. As a predicate adjective, even "lower case" should be all right. This is an example of a common process in English. Separate words that are combined for a specific meaning often go through a process of hyphenation followed by complete merging. This one is still in transition.
    This is why I keep old editions of dictionaries: it lets me trace, from one edition to the next, just this sort of change. My wife thinks I'm mad.

    And don't worry about starting sentences with conjunctions, MadWillieJ; you're in good company (by which I don't mean me, but many good writers).

    b

  3. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: "lowercase"

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    This is why I keep old editions of dictionaries: it lets me trace, from one edition to the next, just this sort of change. My wife thinks I'm mad.

    And don't worry about starting sentences with conjunctions, MadWillieJ; you're in good company (by which I don't mean me, but many good writers).

    b
    I agree. I don't think that was ever a grammar "rule". Starting a sentence with a coordinating conjunction can be used to good effect for emphasis.

    BTW, I don't throw old dictionaries away either.

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