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Focused or focussed? Emergency help needed.

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Prof Wind Up Merchant
937444.  Thu Sep 06, 2012 3:57 am Reply with quote

I am doing a job application and this has stumped me. Being in the UK should I be using focused or focussed?

I have to be able to demonstrate the following; Able to demonstrate a customer focused approach to working with colleagues.

Apparently "Focused" is prefered in the US, "Focussed" in the UK. Having said that the charity I am trying to apply to used "focused" in detailing the person spec.

Help!

 
swot
937449.  Thu Sep 06, 2012 4:45 am Reply with quote

Go with 'focused' if it's in the spec. I usually go for 'focussed' because 'focused' looks incomplete, but 'focussed' looks too messy. I tend to avoid it, tbh.

 
swot
937450.  Thu Sep 06, 2012 4:46 am Reply with quote

Neither sets off my online spell check (which online does, incidentally), so it would seem that either is acceptable.

 
bemahan
937452.  Thu Sep 06, 2012 4:52 am Reply with quote

If either can be used, and they have opted for 'focused', then I would definitely use their preference. Otherwise they might think that either you can't spell or that you think their way is wrong.

 
RLDavies
937459.  Thu Sep 06, 2012 6:15 am Reply with quote

The one-S version is most commonly used nowadays on both sides of the Atlantic, especially in technical contexts.

 
exnihilo
937460.  Thu Sep 06, 2012 6:19 am Reply with quote

The OED considers 'focussed' to be "common, but irregular".

 
Awitt
937473.  Thu Sep 06, 2012 7:41 am Reply with quote

Depends which version of spellcheck you use (US/UK)
In my writing courses we're told whatever one we use in Aust. , it must be consistent throughout.

 
Jenny
937524.  Thu Sep 06, 2012 1:57 pm Reply with quote

If I thought about it, I'd go for focussed on the principle that usually a doubled consonant shortens the preceding vowel (hence the difference between hoped and hopped), but if I don't think about it I write focused. My American spellchecker thinks it's focused and doesn't recognize that focussed is common but irregular. It just thinks it's wrong.

 
suze
937545.  Thu Sep 06, 2012 5:15 pm Reply with quote

See, if I were forced to think about it, I wouldn't double the consonant.

Very few of the "rules" about English spelling work without exception, but the books reckon that the basis is this:

1. If the base form of the verb ends in a vowel other than a silent <e>, add -ed (ski, skied).

2. If it ends in a silent <e>, just add -d (hope, hoped).

3. If it is one syllable ending in a consonant preceded by a single vowel, double the consonant before adding -ed (hop, hopped).

4. If it is one syllable ending in a consonant preceded by two vowels, just add -ed (treat, treated).

5. If it is more than one syllable ending in a consonant, and the final syllable is unstressed, just add -ed (finish, finished).

6. If it is more than one syllable ending in a consonant, and the final syllable is stressed, double the consonant before adding -ed (regret, regretted).

7. (Optional rule, not in play in North America) If it is more than one syllable ending in -l, double the <l> before adding -ed (Br: travel, travelled; NAm: travel, traveled).


Those "rules" would suggest focused, and I think that's the form I would use. But - and as Awitt suggests - it doesn't matter hugely, so long as you are consistent and use one form or the other.

 
zomgmouse
937546.  Thu Sep 06, 2012 5:16 pm Reply with quote

I personally use "focussed", and now "focused" just looks like it should sound like "fock-youse'd".

 
Jenny
937647.  Fri Sep 07, 2012 9:15 am Reply with quote

Yes, rules 5 and 6 are the ones I should have thought about suze. I get mixed up these days because of all the American spellings that surround me, and seeing words like traveled all the time (which my American spellchecker thinks is fine, whereas to me it grates and I have to write travelled, despite the little red line under it.)

 
WordLover
937665.  Fri Sep 07, 2012 11:45 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
See, if I were forced to think about it, I wouldn't double the consonant.

Very few of the "rules" about English spelling work without exception, but the books reckon that the basis is this:

1. If the base form of the verb ends in a vowel other than a silent <e>, add -ed (ski, skied).

2. If it ends in a silent <e>, just add -d (hope, hoped).
I think this had better be "other than an unmodified <e>". That way, it predicts "agreed", "vied", "shoed", "cued" correctly. (Do the e's in those verbs really count as silent?) I say "unmodified" so as to exclude é so that rule 1 predicts "clichéed".

 
suze
937672.  Fri Sep 07, 2012 1:21 pm Reply with quote

I suppose one could argue that the <e> in vie and those others is silent, and I would do so if I wanted to argue dogmatically in favour of those "rules".

But that isn't what I want to do, and you do make a fair point. Perhaps we need another "rule" which says If it ends in two or more vowels of which the last is <e>, just add -d. (I've included the words "or more" to deal correctly with queue, queued.)

The past participles of to pee and to wee (both meaing "to urinate") are tricky however we write the rules. There seems to be no consensus as to whether it should be peed (which the new rule would predict) or the horrendous pee-ed.

Mind you, how many verbs are there which end with a single -e that is explicitly pronounced? If we add that new rule, can rules 1. and 2. be simplified just to "ends in a single vowel other than -e" and "ends in single -e".

Cliche/é(e)d (all four possible spellings are allowed by the dictionaries at my disposal) is an adjective; there is no verb to cliche.


A very similar set of "rules" can be used to describe the formation of the present participle. Skiing, hoping, hopping, treating, finishing, regretting, and travelling (Br) / traveling (NAm) would all be predicted correctly by the original seven, although the new rule would need more work to get agreeing and shoeing right.

I'm not quite sure about queueing and queuing. The latter just looks wrong to me, but it is commonly used. (The mathematical study of waiting in line is always called queueing theory, though.)

I doubt that you could ever write a rule which would get singeing (the present participle of to singe) right. Were it not that to sing is a "classic" example of a Germanic strong verb, would we adopt an orthographical special case and make the past participle of to singe be sinjed?

 
nitwit02
937712.  Fri Sep 07, 2012 8:08 pm Reply with quote

I was appalled and distraught recently on discovering that the Canadian Press Style Book (the bible for newspapers and broadcasters) that the proper Canadian spelling is listed as Jewelry. This is ridiculous. The word is purely American.

Having spoken to sundry fellow citizens on the subject in the past week, all but one agreed with me that it should be, Jewellery - like wot it is in the UK.

Answers from knowledgeable folk, please.

 
MinervaMoon
937724.  Sat Sep 08, 2012 2:36 am Reply with quote

From Wikipedia:

Quote:
British jewellery; American jewelry. The standard pronunciations (/ˈdʒuːəlri/) do not reflect this difference. According to Fowler, jewelry used to be the "rhetorical and poetic" spelling in the UK. Canada has both, but jewellery is more often used. Likewise, the Commonwealth (including Canada) has jeweller and the US has jeweler for a jewel(le)ry seller.


For the "rhetorical and poetic" spelling:
    There stands the flow'ring may-thorn tree!
    From thro' the veiling mist you see
    The black and shadowy stem;--
    Smit by the sun the mist in glee
    Dissolves to lightsome jewelry--
    Each blossom hath its gem!

    -Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "Alice Du Clos"

 

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