Your Pain Is Our Pleasure

Pain in the English offers proofreading services for short-form writing such as press releases, job applications, or marketing copy. 24 hour turnaround. Learn More

Discussion Forum

This is a forum to discuss the gray areas of the English language for which you would not find answers easily in dictionaries or other reference books. You can browse through the latest questions and comments below. If you have a question of your own, please submit it here.

Search Pain in the English

Latest Posts

I constantly see apostrophes used in ways I believe are incorrect. I am wondering anyone can confirm for me, though. For example, I often see “Temperatures will reach the high 90′s today...”

Aren’t apostrophes only used to show possession or in contractions? For example, “This sweet ride isn’t (cont.) mine; it’s (cont) Jessica’s (poss).”

Also, how would I word something to the effect that everyone is coming to the house that my husband, Mike, and I own?

“Everyone is coming to Mike’s and my house.”?

Read Comments

Let us say I received a box of apples from Joe Jones, Ltd.

Would I write:

“Joe Jones, Ltd., sent a box of apples.” or

“Joes Jones, Ltd. sent a box of apples.”?

Notice that the first example has one more comma.

Thanks!

Read Comments

Is it proper to hyphenate percentages if they’re modifiers? Example - a 20 percent increase. I’m trying to determine this by Associated Press standards.

Read Comments

Are common pet-names capitalized as per proper names i.e. when writing to a loved one, which of the two is the better option? -Hello darling- or -Hello Darling-

Read Comments

When do you capitalize directions? ie) Uncle Henry flew south for the winter.

Read Comments

1. The much talked about question; or The much-talked-about question. If hyphenation is not required, would hyphenation make it wrong, and vice-versa.

Though I’d definitely hyphenate the following: “The much-talked-about-but-never-dealt-with question”. No?

2. I like groceries shopping; or I like groceries-shopping. Same for things like coat(-)checking, floor(-)scrubbing, etc.

How about: The groceries-shopping tedium; coat-checking etiquette; etc. Would it be okay if you don’t hyphenate them?

3. Behaviour is context dependent; or Behaviour is context-dependent. The page is content heavy; or The page is content-heavy.

Likewise, if hyphenation is required, would the lack of hyphenation make it wrong, and vice-versa.

4. The end of school vacation; or The end-of-school vacation. A not so surprising accident; or A not-so-surprising accident.

Again, the same question applies. Especially for the first case, since not hyphenating it would possibly change its meaning: The end of *the* school vacation vs. The vacation that happens at the end of school. Thus, can anyone, without hyphenating it, argue that they mean the latter?

Read Comments

I’m curious about the correct way to punctuate something like the following: David found a note that only had a few words written on it. “I’m too tired to walk.”

Is there a correct way to do this without quotation marks. I’ve seen hyphens used in some instances but that seems incorrect.

Read Comments

From Jim Van:

“If the Recovery (read it Money) is in the millions [of dollars], even 4 decimal places would make a SIGNIFICANT figures.”

Question: What difference in use between parenthesis and square brackets?

Read Comments

On page 89 of “Eats, Shoots & Leaves”, Lynne Truss writes, “I wonder why?” Many people put a question mark at the end of this phrase, but to me it doesn’t seem like a question. Isn’t it a statement? “I wonder” is a statement. “Why” is a question in and of itself. In this context, though, the question mark is not making sense to me.

Read Comments

I am a student working on a thesis in anthropology and I am quoting one of my informants. In his quote, he says “United States Geological Service.” I know that it’s “United States Geological SURVEY,” not “service.” Should I put [sic] after the word “service” in the quote? Is it obnoxious to do that? Is it necessary?

Read Comments

Latest Comments

I live in a rural area, and do not get U.S. Postal delivery at my physical address. I have a P.O. Box at the local post office but when address verification is requested, like from UPS, the post office has no record of my physical address. This can be a huge problem. The solution is to install a mailbox on the main road a mile away. My husband has been reluctant to do this for safety reasons, even though I him that our mail will continue to go to the local post office. I actually purchased a mail box which my husband has been avoiding. I am over 70 so it's rather difficult for me, maybe I can get my neighbor to help.

As wet as ?

As wet as a well diggers ar**e!

The grammatically and syntactically proper way to form this is: "I [do so] appreciate your taking the child of Gregg and mine to school today".

Tho me thinks sumthin ain't quite right soundin with them their wordins u no wut I mean?

Resume, resumé, or résumé?

  • T.D
  • April 21, 2017, 2:36pm

Your pop up was rude and obnoxious...I will never go back to this site.

“would have been” is 3d condition wich is unreal past.So that can't be used in this case.The correct version is “He would be 60 today”.
For “would have been” it should be “if he were alive, he would have been 60 yesterday”

Texted

It's about the rules of syllabication...period. Two syllables.. just say to yourself...tested.... we tested the fourth grade. Why would you make texted...text as past tense? Has to do with the xt and st at the end of the word.

Hello everyone check out our newly designed super intelligent blank ATM cards Which have been specially programmed to withdraw free cash from any ATM Machine worldwide,please beware of scams!!! selling counterfeit cards we sell the original cards with documents to validate our transactions. We deliver this cards to all our customers and interested buyers worldwide and it has changed the life of many people including me,we have various cards and various prices for them and the cards has various daily withdrawal limits, Here is our price lists and the daily withdrawal limits for the BLANK ATM CARDS; limit of $1000 per-day cost $150 limit of $2000 per-day cost $250 limit of $3000 per-day cost $350 limit of $4000 per day cost $450. limit of $5000 per-day cost $550 to get your card please Contact us via: Email Address: (kennedyhacker5@gmail.com) stating the particular card you want to order for yourself now and it will be delivered to you wherever you are within 48 Hours.

Walking Heavens

  • melisa
  • April 12, 2017, 1:09pm

It still unbelievable to believe that HIV AIDS still has cure, me and my Husband has been suffering from HIV AIDS for so many years and we have search for help but we were unable to find one, i was told that there was no cure for HIV AIDS but somehow i believe that there was someone out that has a cure, so that was how i went in search for s solution on how to get cured of HIV AIDS and surprisingly i saw comment on daily news papers where lady testify of how Dr obor herbal medicine cure her, i was so confused because first i thought that there was no cure but now seeing that someone outside has a cure, i thoughts of it as a scam but something told me to give it a try and when i did he reply me and assure me that me and my husband will be cured once we receive his herbal medicine, that was how he prepared it, and send my herbal medication that me and my husband used that cure me and my husband in Just 2 weeks and we were tested HIV AIDS Negative. All Thanks to the powerful Dr obor for his help in my life. contact him on his email OBORSPELLHOME@GMAIL.COM
whats sup him on +2348105813057

Prior means before in time, not in place.

Aren't we talking about restrictive and relative pronouns here? In which case they are both used, but in different situations.