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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.

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“I’ve (You’ve) to go swimming” vs. “I’ve (You’ve) got to go swimming” 

and

“I’ve (You’ve”) the Frisbee”   vs.  “I’ve (You’ve) got the Frisbee”  vs.  “I have the Frisbee”

They could all be correct or not, but the ones I believe are wrong, at least the ones that  sound wrong, are when there is a contraction used without “Got”. Anyone know a definite answer to which is correct grammatically, and if it is grammatically correct, whether it is correct common usage.

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Where or how did the term “my bad” originate? I hear it more frequently all the time and it really annoys me. Bad is an adjective, not a noun or verb.

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I’m not usually a peever, but I do make an exception for business buzzwords. A recent survey in Britain found that many office workers felt ‘management-speak’  to be ‘a pointless irritation’. Up to now my least favourite has been ‘going forward’, an expression Lucy Kellaway at the Financial Times campaigned against when it first appeared, but to no avail: everyone uses it now, from Obama to Beckham. But the one that I’m increasingly noticing is ‘reach out’. 

Apart from its physical meanings, my dictionary gives this meaning for ‘reach out’:

reach out to somebody - to show somebody that you are interested in them and/or want to help them - “The church needs to find new ways of reaching out to young people.”

Which is fine. But increasingly it seems to be being used simply to mean ‘contact’, especially on tech sites, for no good reason that I can see other than trendiness. Some examples:

‘If you would like any other suggestions or need help with transitioning your current Google Reader RSS feeds, please reach out to a Library’

‘Wired has also reached out to Google for additional comment.’

‘If you want to follow up, feel free to reach out to me by phone.’

I know I’m just an old fuddy-duddy, and these expressions are harmless, but they do niggle a bit. Any comments? Or anyone for Buzzword Bingo?

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This phrase has aggravated me since the first time I heard it. Those who use it justify it as being akin to, “...same thing!” which has never sat right me. In my opinion, something is either the same or it is different. By this token, “Same difference!” sounds like a junk phrase that sounds correct but is, in fact, meaningless. It grates for me as much as “irregardless”. 

Am I incorrect? Is there any validity to this phrase, outside of modern colloquialism?

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Has anybody come across the idiom “Fit as a butcher’s dog”, and if so, is it mainly confined to the North of England? Eric Partridge suggests it originates from Lancashire, but it seems to be used in Yorkshire as well. Also, is it usually used only with the meaning of physically fit, or is its use extending to the other (British) meaning of fit - sexually attractive?

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How do you handle a quote within a quote within a quote in an MLA citation?

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How can backwards be a word if backward is as well? Forwards and forward? Beside and besides?

I can’t turn a light switch ons, can I? Go outs the door?

Nouns can be plural, and verbs have tense, but prepositions? 

When did we start pluralizing those?

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“She said she...” or “She said that she...”

All my life I have received great feedback about my grammar, but these past few years I find myself over thinking it—all the time. It actually causes me to create mistakes where there previously weren’t any. Bizarre? 

One such thing that I have thought too much about is the necessity of “that” in phrases like the above. When would you say it’s necessary? Always? Never? Sometimes? Explain! Thanks!

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Discussion on appropriate use of these two phrases came up on another forum. I believe it depends on context. Would be interested in hearing other views.

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Are adverbs something to be avoided like the plague or an inevitable mutation of the English language that we just have to deal with? I’ve heard it said that they’re the mark of a writer who lacks the vocabulary to use powerful words (for example, “He walked slowly” does not carry the weight of “He plodded” or “He trudged”) and the skill to vary their sentence structure. I’ve seen them used in published in professional work, from George R. R. Martin to J.K. Rowling, so it’s not something authors shy away from and, for the most part, the public accepts it without question.

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Latest Comments

@Henry

I respect your opinion however misguided it may be.

Since you are obviously not a grammar freak, are you perhaps some other genus of freak?

The main problem here is that English has evolved from a largely synthetic language (one in which grammatical function is marked by verb form or inflections) to a largely analytical language (where word order, modals, and prepositions mark syntactical, grammatical, and semantic functions). The "irrealis were" is not even considered by modern linguists as a form of the "subjunctive" at all, and it is a relic of old English that quite simply no longer serves any grammatical purpose. The syntactical, grammatical and semantic functions that used to be marked by morphology (changes in verb form or inflections) are now marked by in other ways, so the distinction between the "irrealis were" and "was" is no longer needed. The language hasn't lost anything, it is just marking or expressing it in a different way. We don't need the "were" in most "irrelis were" constructions because the semantics of the construction is made plain by words such as "if" or "wish". It is hilarious that people attempt to work out whether they should use "were" by first working out whether the construction is counterfactual, etc. Proof that the "were" isn't what makes the semantics plain.

And "idiolect" is certainly not a neologism. It is a very common word in grammar or linguistics. And it is amusing how some people claim that "correct usage" is seen as pedantic. Not at all. Pedantic usage is what is seen as pedantic ;-)

Insisting on the "irrealis were" as "correct usage" is obviously pedantic and rather odd. It only exists in the one construction, (where a "was" is changed to a "were") and with no other verbs and in no other constructions, proof in itself that it no longer needed.

And, ironically, the "irrealis were" or "subjunctive" as so many call it is much more common in AmE than in BrE. I seems to only be in the US where it is ever taught these days and only in the US where many people, other than grammar freaks, care, or even know about it.

No Woman No Cry

"No woman No cry" contrary to social belief is about telling a woman that she shouldn't cry. The idea that we have about a man not crying if he doesn't have a woman,or the famous one "if a man doesn't have a woman he doesn't have reason to cry,because he doesn't have a woman to cause him pain(emotionally) or to stress him out".
Many people taught that's what it meant. But really and truly its only saying that women shouldn't cry because of hardships.
And also the woman in the song specifically:In the song the man is a travelling minstrel telling his woman he will come back for her.
"So dry your eyes I say, and while I'm gone
everything is going to be alright
everything is going to be alright now
no woman no cry, no woman no cry".

There ....... a book,a pen and three pencils on the tabble
A. Is
B. Are
C. Were
D. Was

When the preposition 'for' is used with the verb 'advocate' is would mean 'for the benefit of'. Therefore, the sentence 'She advocates for foster children' is grammatically correct while 'He advocates for lower taxes' is NOT grammatically correct as lower taxes is not the beneficiary.

Please note that just because a usage has become widespread, that does not make it grammatically correct. If so, the sentence 'I seen the movie' would be deemed correct.

“she” vs “her”

  • Gloria
  • February 22, 2017, 10:31pm

Just finished reading a novel. Two times the author used "her" when I thought she should have used "she". I was taught that if you continued with the sentence you could test which word is correct.
The author wrote: "No one believed in him more than her. (more than she did.) "But no one thought it more than her." (more than she thought it.)

email me at harambe@idied.com
I dunno

email me at harambe@idied.com
I dunno

Plural of Yes

  • Harambe
  • February 21, 2017, 3:39pm

Help me i dont know what to do B-)

As I answered to my friend, I found below answer is perfect for that,

"what is the position of Jawaharlal Nehru among Indian prime ministers??"

You can use this if you want.

Hope it will help you