Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
Proofreading Service - Pain in the English

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Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
Proofreading Service - Pain in the English

Your Pain Is Our Pleasure

24-Hour Proofreading Service—We proofread your Google Docs or Microsoft Word files. We hate grammatical errors with passion. 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.

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Latest Posts : Opinion / Criticism

I moved to the US from Japan when I was 16, and in the 30 years I’ve lived here, I’ve noticed the ease with which Europeans communicate with native English speakers even when they have heavy accents. In contrast, Asian immigrants seem to have a harder time being understood by the native speakers. Asians typically blame the problem on their accents and their pronunciation but Americans, particularly urban Americans, are used to hearing a variety of accents. It seems to me that there is something else at work causing the difference between Asian and European ESL speakers.

Compared to the Japanese language, some of the phonemes in English are very subtle (like the th sound). So, over the phone, when we are spelling a name, we provide contextual information, like, “M as in Mary. S as in Sam,” and so on. The subtleties are lost over the phone, and we cannot differentiate between N vs. M, S vs. F, and so on. The Japanese language does not have this problem. I believe English is a more context-dependent language because there is a constant need to fill in the information lost in the subtleties.

Even when two native speakers are talking to each other, often they can’t hear each other well (e.g., noisy bar, subway platform, poor quality phone connection, etc..) but they THINK they hear everything. They are actually filling in the missing information from the context.

The reason Europeans have an easier time even with heavy accents is that their cultures are still very similar. They are able to provide better contextual information as they speak. Because Asian cultures are so different, Asian speakers are not able to provide enough contextual information in their sentences and their body language. Even if they can speak with no accent, their sentences can come out sounding foreign, like the automatic translation provided by Google—grammatically correct but incomprehensible. This makes it hard for Americans to understand especially if the speaker has a heavy accent.

A friend of mine is a pilot for Japan Airlines. As long as he is communicating within the context of air travel (like speaking to the passengers on the plane about the delays and weather forecast), nobody has trouble understanding him. This is because the cultural context in this instance is very narrow and well-defined which allows everyone to fill in the gap easily. But he has trouble understanding and being understood outside of this context because of the wide range of contextual possibilities.

If a French person were talking to an American about how he was treated at a particular restaurant, neither would have any problem understanding the cultural context since the restaurants in France function very much like the restaurants here in the US. But the restaurants in Japan work very differently. In fact, their customs in restaurants are so different that some Japanese people take an etiquette class to be able to eat at Western restaurants. (You can see an example of this in the movie, Tampopo). When you are deficient in the cultural knowledge to this degree, accent becomes a secondary issue. Even with flawless pronunciation, you could still have trouble being understood because the listeners have no idea what you are referring to.

Many native speakers find Indian English speakers hard to understand, even those who have been speaking English all their lives. We readily recognize Indian accent like we recognize Southern and British accents. So, the problem is not lack of familiarity. I think it’s the lack of contextual information because the Indian culture too is very different. We mistakenly believe that the problem is their accent.

What do you think?

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I consider “data” as collective, like “sugar.” You can have a lot of sugar or a lot of data. Then “the sugar IS on the table,” or “the data IS correct.”

I do not like “the data ARE.” Never did. I worked as a technical writer and my philosophy was as I have stated. (Even though data can have one bit called datum, whereas sugar must have one grain.)

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I was quite comfortable with the concept of direct and indirect speech that had been drummed into my head by a succession of teachers at the schools I attended in the 50s and 60s.

However the term “indirect speech”, like so many other facets of the English language, has now apparently undergone a change.

At least that is what one noted linguist would have us believe.

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As in: the pie charts give information about the water used for residential, industrial and agricultural purposes ...

To me, “give” here sounds crude, as if the writer could not come up with the right verb; whereas “provide” sounds more appropriate, albeit just a bit high official. 

So in an English exam I would have to mark the writer down? Am I correct in my thinking?

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Why do people feel it necessary to add “of” to some phrases?

For example:

How big of a problem.
How long of a wait.
How bad of a decision.

Seems rather a waste of time.

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I want to play a Star Wars video review as listening practice for an EFL student. However, it contains a strange construction that I can’t figure out how to explain: “Now, the question most likely on your mind, be you Jedi or be you Sith, is...”

I know that it would be easy enough to say, “It means ‘whether you are Jedi or Sith,’” but I wonder if there’s a better explanation.

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I’ve noticed that “haitch” is becoming more common than “aitch” when it comes to pronouncing “H”. Why is this, and what is the thinking on which pronunciation is preferable (or even correct)? My mind goes back to my 4th year high school Latin teacher who was very fond of rendering what he obviously considered witty quotes about “Arrius and his haspirates“.

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I have often noticed that in Scotland quite a few people tend to confuse words like:

  • amount / number: e.g. Amount of people
  • much / many: e.g. Too much eggs
  • less / fewer: e.g. Less eggs

There are possibly others in this category.

Has anyone noticed this in other areas?

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“Defeat to” seems to have gained preference over “defeat by” with media in the UK.

eg:- After Chelsea’s recent defeat to Liverpool Jose said...

Seems like they are confusing “defeat” and “loss”; or is this another evolution that we must suffer?

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Is this statement an opinion?

“Everyone wanted to go on the new ride.”

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Latest Comments

Wonderful to find that I'm not alone in being annoyed by this silly use of "reach out". Like a lot of irritating Americanisms it has landed on the shores of England and unfortunately spread like Covid19. Apparently, when I contact my bank, I've "reached out" to them, as if I'm drowning. While I'm at it, another recent aberration is the pretentious use of "myself" for the simple "me". As in, "If you have any questions, please reach out to myself". That makes myself very annoyed!

She must have been a difficult woman when she was alive becasue she is causing mayhem now that she is dead...

I like the final version. My background is science and engineering. It's been a lifelong quest to achieve the most concise grammar which is also interesting. Hence the final version gets my vote.
I note that 'species' is both singular and plural. therefore both “species of butterfly” & “species of butterflies” should be correct.

most unique

  • Edword
  • January 19, 2021, 10:37pm

Having just had an argument about this here is a slightly different slant. Suppose one box has nine identical red icecreams and one blue one and another box has nine identical blue icecreams and one red one. We could say the first box is more red than the second box, meaning it has more red elements, not that the individual elements are more red. So a team might have more individuals who are unique than another team and for convenience we could say it is 'more unique' rather than laboriously stating that it has more members who are unique. I don't see a problem with this although my friend disagrees strongly.

It depends on what you exactly mean, and perhaps on the context.

“I’m just saying”

Its an instigators tool to shaken up the social statues qou among peers, all while trying to excusing himself from any and all responsibility of its possible negative outcome... at least thats what I use it for. :) ;)

Um i have a quetion can i get something to eat or may i get something to eat?


As If vs. As Though

I'm the same speedwell who originally answered this question, heh. I was pushed by a Singaporean colleague to sort this out, and they would not accept "forget it; they're both the same these days" as an answer. They were *interested*. So I spent some more time thinking about it, and I realised I do have an unconscious preference. (Oh, and I have code switched to British rules because I now live in Ireland.)

The difference is subtle but meaningful and has to do with *plausibility*. Imagine I were a chef in a restaurant, and I asked a server how a food critic liked the dish I cooked. They might say, with their thoughts in brackets:

- "Well, she ate it as if she liked it." (I am of the opinion that she liked it, since she ate it with enthusiasm.)
- "Well, she ate it as though she liked it." (I am of the opinion that she didn't, since it seemed like it was an effort for her to eat more than the first bite of it.)

In other words, I would lean toward "as if" if the conditional was plausible or likely, and "as though" if the conditional was implausible or unlikely or imaginary. A few more examples:

- I walked down Union Street as if Aberdeen was my new home. (I'm just a tourist, but it feels like a homecoming somehow.)
- I walked down Union Street as though Aberdeen were to be my new home. (I wanted to make myself look like a potential new resident, not just a tourist, but I'm not really going to live here.) Note the subjunctive, which, while dead as a dodo, is still used with "though" and not "if", as noted by others.

- The little Italian girl smiled as if she understood what I said. (She very well might speak a little English.)
- The little Italian girl smiled as though she understood what I said. (She didn't understand, but she was being sweet and polite.)

Writer or Author

  • Forenc
  • January 3, 2021, 3:00pm

These words are used according to the situation, but I have always had problems with this, because the grammar is quite difficult. That's why, to simplify this process a bit, I started using the AcademicHelp service, a review of which I read at It was very useful for me, because it was thanks to the review that I found professional and quality help.