spelling of ‘ordinarily’

Any idea why it is spelled by adding the ‘e-circle -ly’ ending to the brief form for ‘ordinary’ rather than adding the ‘small-loop -ily’ ending?

I stumbled reading this word and it seems that the -ily ending would have been more obvious since there’s really only one interpretation.

Only thing I can come up with is that maybe the loop ending is awkward to attach to the “ten” blend.



11 comments Add yours
  1. Since “ordinarily” is a derivative of the brief form “ordinary”, which does not end in a circle vowel, it is not necessary to write the “ily” loop when the “ly” circle is sufficient to express the sound. Contrast that with the word “happily.” In this case, you need to add a loop because “happy” ends with a circle vowel.

  2. Hi Carlos,

    Sometimes I think I should call this blog “Ask Carlos”!

    Sounds like a logical reason but I’m still having trouble seeing this. Is this your best guess or did the Gregg company by any chance address it?

    The difficulty for me is that ‘ordinarily’ is still technically pronounced with the two-syllable ending -ily ending so this just doesn’t seem right to me- as well as being a less obvious rendering.

    But to compare this word to others paragraphs 54 & 300 of my S90 text addresses these endings and the examples do not seem to follow a rule like that. For -ily they offer “temporarily” which is very similar to “ordinarily” along with easily, steadily, speedily, heartily, and family.

    For -ly they offer “daily” amongst others.

    On the other hand when speaking English loosely we tend to drop that “i” syllable in speaking. And I wonder if that had something to do with it…

    I don’t think it is important that Gregg have a ‘rule’ for everything..it’s o.k. if they simply made an arbitrary choice here. But, examining it for me is not only interesting but may prove useful down the road and helps the learning process.


    1. “Ask Carlos” is a good one, LOL. Others are always welcome to chime in! By the way, I love these questions.

      I’m not aware of any official explanations to your original question.

      The difference with “ordinary” is that it already contains the “i” sound in the outline without having to write a circle, where as in the others that you mention, either (1) the root word has a circle vowel (“temporary”, “easy”, “steady”, “speedy”, “hearty”), or (2) the word itself is not a derivative of anything (“family”). So you need to make the distinction for clarity.

      I have a suggestion: just write “ordinary” as o-den blend-r-e, and “ordinarily” as “o-den blend-r-loop.” 🙂

      (Would you write the following “ily” words with a loop: “lily”, “oily”, “hilly”, “Billy”, “dilly”, “willy-nilly”?)

  3. I like your suggestions for how to write them. Would that Gregg Co had consulted you 😉

    If they had I wouldn’t find myself scratching my head every time I see ‘ordinary’ — notwithstanding the ‘-ily’ version. For some reason the brief doesn’t want to stick in my head.

    Though, after this discussion I expect it may be less of a problem 🙂 ..guess this is how we learn.

    I don’t see the words at the end as analogous. Now if we had a name like “Bilalee or Bilally” (sorry I can’t come up with an English word off the top that fits) then we’d have an analogy.

    I just pulled this from merriam-webster \ˌȯr-də-ˈner-ə-lē\. 5 syllables. The outline Gregg Co is using gives us
    \ˌȯr-də-ˈner-lē\ which is 4 syllables!

    …But I’m pausing on that thought..because maybe you and I are reading the ‘y’ at the end of the root word differently. In my case it seems unnatural to read (or shorten) the ‘y’ as a short ‘i’. Do we do that in English? So in my reading of the word ‘ordinarily’ we have to first drop the ‘y’  from the root before we can add either ending. Then we would need the -ily. But the fact that a brief is involved here plausibly gives us a problem in that it is already build in so it can’t be dropped so easily..so hence the ‘softening’ of the ‘y’.

    Otherwise, I just don’t see how the original root’s ending with a circle vowel matters. Because it doesn’t really matter whether there is a root or not. “Easily” would still be e-s-loop if there were no “easy” in the language (in other words we would never right e-s-e for it). Though as food for though I do like how you brought in the fact that in most cases a derivative is involved.

    Of course someone could say it doesn’t really matter in a longer word that we lose a syllable as this happens all the time in Gregg and that this conversation is pedantic. But we do this for fun right…? 🙂


    1. The point of the last examples was to demonstrate that we don’t always write “ily” with a loop.

      The “i” in “ily” is a schwa, and in Gregg, schwas are for the most part omitted, since they are considered obscure vowels.

  4. Thanks for the chat yesterday, Carlos. It helped me come to a clearer understanding. Since it may be of some interest to others I’ll pass it along as well as the other cases I mused over concerning the formation of derivatives of brief forms.

    The key difference between ‘ordinarily’ and ‘temporarily’ is that one is built on a brief form and one is not. Since ‘ordinary’ already contains a vowel at the end (even though it’s not one of the written letters of the brief) and since it’s a ‘y’ it’s close enough to signify the (i) sound that would otherwise be expressed by using the -ily ending and maintaining 5 syllables.

    Whereas for ‘temporarily’ we must supply the (i) sound in the ending because it is not formed as a derivative of a brief (since temporary is not a brief). The ‘y’ of ‘temporary’ never enters the picture, and we must build ‘temporarily’ from scratch.

    Yesterday to rationalize ‘ordinarily’ I wanted to mentally drop the ‘y’ of ‘ordinary’ and supply the necessary vowel as a part of the ending -ily. This was understandable because the ‘y’ is so strongly enunciated that it just felt right to ignore it as if it couldn’t really reduce down to the lightly enunciated schwa sound needed.

    The way the authors did it, however, seems more consistent. They formed ‘satisfactorily’ (one of only a few brief forms in S90 with the same -ily sound formed on a brief form that ends in a vowel/y) the same way.

    However they went a different way on these:

    * Very – Verily. They chose [v e r loop] instead of [v e e] which is not consistent with the examples above.

    * Idea – Ideally.  Similarly used [i d e l e] instead of [i d e e]

    * Every – Everyone. Similar in that the compound is formed on a brief that ends in ‘y’ but the rules for compounds specifically allow changes to the root.

    * Where – Warily. [u a r loop] instead of [a r loop]

    Of course the above examples are slightly different in that though the word and derivative has the same sound they have different meanings.

    Almost all of the rest of the brief forms do not end in a vowel (or do so but do not have derivatives) so the derivatives are formed intuitively in the standard way.

    Food for thought.


  5. I’m going to put in my two cents too.
    Very – Verily. I think this isn’t consistent with the way the system is generally built. I think it would have been better, from the point of view of consistency, as v-ily rather than v-e-r-ily. After all, “verily” is a derivative of “very”. But of course “verily” is an uncommon, archaic word that occurs almost nowhere nowadays but in the Bible. So spelling it out in full is not a bad idea.
    Idea -Ideally. “Ideally” is not an adverb formed from “idea”, but from “ideal”. Writing a-d-e-ily would therefore be wrong (as well as horribly awkward). So would a-d-e-e, which would give us “idea-ly”. As for starting with “ideal”, a-d-e-l-ily would give us “idealily”. So a-d-e-l-e (or i-d-e-l-e in S90) is correct.
    Every – Everyone. In some series of Gregg, notably 1916 Pre-Anni, DJ, and S90, the word “every” is spelled e-v, so e-v-u-n for “everyone” is no problem. I think that abbreviation was just kept in Anni and GSS despite the change in the spelling of “every” to e-v-e. It certainly isn’t a big deal there, since “everyone” is a pretty common word.
    Where – Warily. “Warily” is not from “where”–not even related to it. It’s from “ware”, as in “aware”, “beware”, and “wary”. This root is consistently spelled u-a-r, so u-a-r-ily is correct.

    1. @LVW

      Thanks LVW and it’s great to hear someone else chime in on this. After I wrote that longish post I wondered if anyone other than Carlos read it.

      You’re basically affirming that the brief forms should not be used as the basis for words that are unrelated or not ‘derivatives’ (which seems to be the general lesson here). As Carlos pointed out to me in another post recently, there are some instructions that were left out of the FM manuals which I’m using. I’m wondering now if this was addressed somewhere directly by Gregg?

      I’ll be keeping my eye out as I continue my GS studies for how brief forms are altered and used in the middle of phrases.


      1. There’s also another thing. Introductory shorthand manuals do not have a lot of derivative practice, as they concentrate on the basics of theory. Once you start studying a second semester (or later) shorthand book, you will see more derivative practice.

        However, the presentation of derivatives in the second semester books (Gregg Dictation/Gregg Shorthand for Colleges Vol. 2) changed starting with the second edition of the DJS books. Before that, both brief forms and derivatives were simultaneously reviewed starting with Lesson 1 (college books) or Lesson 2 (high school books) and the practice was repeated every 5 lessons throughout the book. This approach is good because it helps to associate the root word with the derivative, and by the end of the book you would have been exposed to derivatives so many times that there should not be any hesitation in writing and recognizing them. Starting with the second edition of the DJS dictation/College Vol 2 books, the derivative practice was postponed until either Lesson 16 or 17, as the powers that be in MGH decided to spend the first few lessons (Lessons 1 or 2, 6 or 7, and 11 or 12) on brief forms only. Whether this was done as an experiment, or by teacher demand, or for pedagogical reasons, or because students didn’t know their theory well, or to give students a break, I don’t know.

      2. I think it is generally true that derivatives are based on the word’s primary form, even if sometimes modified. Of course, there are some instances of morphemes or other word fragments that share the same brief form, such as “for”, “fore”, and “four”. As for “where” and “ware”, these are not always pronounced the same way: Some people use the aspirated w in “where”, but no one would ever use it in “ware”.

        In regard to the post by Carlos, the little workbook that went with the second edition of the DJ manual had a certain amount of derivative practice, though not emphasizing the brief forms.

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