Ought vs. Aught

Here’s another homonym mix-up: Ought vs. Aught

Ought is an auxiliary verb derived from the Scottish word “to owe.” It means “should,” usually
indicating some obligation, advisability, expectation, or moral duty.
He ought to finish writing his section of the report before he goes on vacation.
You ought to have a doctor take a look at that sore on your arm.
I really ought to go to the funeral, because we were close friends.

Aught is a pronoun that means “anything” or “all.”
Do you know aught about geomechanics? (anything)
For aught I care, you can schedule the meeting on my day off, for I shall not be attending. (all)

Aught is also a noun that means nothing or zero.
The gun he used to shoot the deer was a .30-06 (thirty aught six) Springfield.
Her baby was born in ’08 (aught eight).
In fact, in the Nineties (1990s) people were talking about what they would call the next
decade; some suggested calling them the Aughties. Now that we’re in the Tens (or is this decade called the Teens?), what exactly did we decide to call the last decade? Anybody out there in the Peanut Gallery know?

Two other similar words that mean “nothing” are “naught” and “nought.” In British English, nought stands for the numeral zero, whereas naught is a poetic word for nothing. In Yank-speak on this side of the pond, we usually use naught for both, although it is considered old-fashioned.
All the effort to drill that troublesome well was for naught; it was a dry hole.
The game tic-tac-toe is called noughts and crosses in England. (fun fact!)

Typo of the Day:
Exxon Mobile
I didn’t know they were in that business, too –  LOL.
Remember the First Rule of Journalism:
Spell their names correctly


3 Responses to “Ought vs. Aught”

  1. pbg55 Says:

    Don’t you mean the game noughts and crosses is called tic-tac-toe in America?

  2. jeff Says:

    Some one needs to explain this to GOOGLE. Because when I type 30-aught-6 in their search bar it asks ” Did you mean “30-ought-6?””

  3. Todd Schryver Says:

    Look into the etymology of aught/ought and usage, and you will find that the words have both senses which converge and those that diverge; where senses converge, “aught” and “ought” are simply taken as alternate spellings.

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