-ish, -ile, -ed

I am speaking Anniversary Gregg in this comment.


I frequently need to write words to describe something. Colloquial words. For example blue-ish, green-ish, heavy-ish, etc. In longhand one can insert a dash if needed. In Gregg I have, so far, just used the sh, joined. Decipherable if the word ends in a consonant, but not a vowel. I wonder if it would be better to disjoin them. The possibility of confusion with -ship is small(ish!) Has anybody a guiding principle to suggest what to do? Perhaps I should put the small circle before sh, but I felt that would make it more complicated.


This is just the American-English divide.  I came to terms with either/neither a long time ago (though it is still a bit of a jolt before writing e-th rather than i-th [that i being the diphthong i as in tile]).  But I still write mobile (e.g. in mobile phone) using the long i diphthong: m-o-b-i-l rather than m-o-b-l.  I know it’s longer but I can’t get it out of my head.  Futile is another one.  By the way is there a good abbreviation for “mobile phone” — they didn’t cater for that in the 1930s!.


I have seen other comments on this before, but do not remember an absolute answer — I suppose it is a matter of preference. But here are some examples of recent words I had a quandary over how to write:
(1) obeyed:  obey is o-b-a.  obeyed looks odd, and not immediately obvious if written o-b-a-d.  It is clear when written o-b-a/t [I use a “-” to mean joined, and a “/” to mean disjoined] because, when reading, the word “obey” comes immediately to mind. But what are we ‘supposed’ to use?
(2) appeared: likewise “appear” comes easily to mind with a disjoind “t” (a-p-r/t), though possibly one may use a reversed “e” to write a-p-e-d (as one would in beard) but that looks odd.
(3) contracted: a word ending with an omitted character should form the past tense with the disjoined t.  So why is “contracted” written k/k-t rather than k/k/t?  After all, the prefix is contr, the “main” part “[a]ct” the t of which is omitted so the final “ed” should be a disoined t.  But we are directed to join the final t (the -ed) to the k.

I know all this is all rather finicky, and Ill write it as it comes to me at the moment of writing, but it is always good to have a definite answer — even if I ignore it (as I will in “mobile”!).


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6 comments Add yours
  1. The general rule is to use the simplest outline that conveys the sound.

    1. -ish

    I would always join. In the case of "bluish", since it ends with an oo-hook, you could either write b – l – sh, or b – l – oo hook – e – sh to make it very clear (just like the word “fruition” is written).

    2. -ile

    Following the general rule above, the i dipthong can be omitted when not necessary for transcription. That's how I think of it. I haven't checked the UK Gregg dictionary, but I expect the outline to be the same. However, don't sweat over this — just write it the way you do if you still find it awkward.

    3. -ed

    If the word ends in a circle (whether regular or reversed), the past tense is formed by keeping the circle and joining the d. Examples: obey – obeyed, armor – armored, dare – dared, charter – chartered.

    If the word ends with the r stroke, use the disjoined t even if you could make the reverse circle outline. This is done to preserve the root form of the word. Examples: appear – appeared, clobber – clobbered, transfer – transferred, savor – savored.

    Words that end in -ct have a special rule, covered in paragraph 211: "In forming the derivatives of words ending in ct, as in contract, it is not necessary to disjoin to express ed, or, er, or ive."

    1. Thanks Carlos,

      Youre right, the UK dictionary does not have the i.  Perhaps in time I'll omit the i — which nearly doubles the writing speed of the word.

      And thanks for all thoes "-ed" examples – very helpful.  Also for pointing me to para 211 — maybe I need to go through the manual again to firm up on other forgotton items.

      1. There are some exceptions to the -ed general rule that you should know:

        1. If the shorthand outline ends with b-a-r or p-a-r, the past tense is formed using the reverse circle. Examples: barred (b-reverse a-d), repaired (r-p-reverse a-d)

        2. Verbs with shorthand outlines ending in m/n-reverse circle or ng/nk-reverse circle form the past tense with the disjoined t to keep the root legible. Using reverse circle-d in these cases would require a change of position of the original reverse circle, and in doing so, the past tense outline may not be distinct in fast writing. Examples: neared (n-reverse e-disjoined t), anchored (a-nk-reverse e-disjoined t), armored (reverse a-m-reverse e-disjoined t).

  2. Thanks again Carlos.  I had been wondering about "armor" in your previous reply.  So that is now clear. 

    I had been wondering whether I would write armored [1] with a "d" after the reversed e (the circle being "below the next stroke" as described in para 161 — although they were not describing this example there).  That sort of stroke seems just as facile as writing "cheered"; or [2] possibly as in "merit" shown in para 163.  But anyway, the use of the disjoined t you showed makes decisions easier — keeping the root legible.


    1. You’re welcome. In my own writing, I do lots of things not according to theory (like "associated" and "armored") because I can write these without thinking much about them.

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