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

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

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 a 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

Texted

The term "Texted" is an incorrect past tense representation of the verb, or of the referenced noun text. The verb text has always been past: text, Present: (text later with cell phones texting, showing present form), and Future: text.

Incorrect language: we had texted.
Any competent English teacher can tell you what is wrong with that statement.
You do not use the past perfect in a later action. Please ask a credible Professor.

The term texted is a term made up in the later 1990's to early 2000's. It was a slang used by some whom did not understand tense in the English language. Putting in Wikipedia and others, till they repeat/accept it, does not make it correct language.

Yes, I understand, the English language isn't easy. We All make mistakes! It would seem as a natural progression to just add "ed" to the end of text thus creating texted. However, that addition is in contradiction to the basic rules of English. If teachers of English would have been more educated in the texted orgin, they would have fixed this before it started.

Thanks for listening, all education can be difficult, and the English language is one made more so, because it is the melting pot of most languages on the planet.

Victorian Era English

Started by Hutu nationalists in the capital of Kigali, the genocide spread throughout the country with shocking speed and brutality, as ordinary citizens were incited by local officials and the Hutu power government to take up arms against their neighbours

s/he

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s/he

The main problem with "s/he" is this: how the hell is it pronounced?

This is silly. Ignorance with an air of superiority. The rules of modern standard British English don't necessarily apply to all other variants. One example, is this, 'bring' and 'take'.

In Irish English, and from Irish, tóg, meaning take, traditionally was used primarily to 'take' possession of something (from someone). Take a sweet! So you can take something given to you or you could steal it. Something is 'changing hands'. But there was 'no movement of travel', so traditionally it would be, (take the kids 'from me') and bring them to school. Will you bring the kids to school? In Irish English, you bring the kids TO school and then you bring them home FROM school (One verb is enough, no need to reference 'taking possession') You bring food (with you) to the party. No one ate any of it. You (take it and) bring it home with you at the end of the night.

Of course, you can TAKE an umbrella, BUT WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WITH IT....""BRING"" it with you, therefore 'BRING AN UMBRELLA in case it rains!'

In Br-En you use TAKE (for bringing something/someone) from HERE to THERE.
I am taking the kids TO SCHOOL. Take that to them.
and you only BRING from THERE to HERE.
I am bringing the kids home FROM SCHOOL. Bring that to me!

Weird snobbery across these posts. Likely due to the British 'take/bring' directionality rule becoming commonplace. Still silly though.

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A pure second conditional would have both an unreal present (or future) condition and result: "If I studied hard, I would get a good grade"

"Lego" is the plural of "Lego."
I would no more look at a bunch of branded, plastic pieces and call them "Legos" than I would look at slices of bread and call them "breads."
It's the same. It's a slice of bread, a loaf of bread; it's a piece of Lego, a Lego brick a Lego set, a pile of Lego. It's not "a bread" and it's not "a Lego," either.
And just because a bunch of people say it that way doesn't make it any more acceptable. Unless, of course, they all started saying "breads," too.

Past tense of “text”

Past tense of "text" is text' as in "he text' her his reply"
The implied "ed" is not spoken, much as in the same way that the "s" is not added or pronounced when we attribute ownership to a name ending in "s" e.g. "the robe belongs to Jesus" or "that is Jesus' robe" not "Jesus's"

Wholeheartedly agree