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 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 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

“This is she” vs. “This is her”

  • jim s
  • September 27, 2020, 8:04am

"I use she and I. "This is she" when answering the phone, or " this is I" or "it is I" as well. I have children of school age that I want to go to college, I want them to go far in life. I try to prevent them from using slang, especially today's slang which is just horrible, because as they grow older and go on interviews and go into the business world, I want them to sound intelligent and for them to stand out. I do not think using proper English is snobbery, but I do think it might be becoming a lost art."

Roz Oct-05-2011

The problem with this is it ISN'T correct. People are saying "this is she and she is this" are interchangeable. Lets change one parameter. You are pointing out a friend to someone you want to introduce her to. "That is she" isn't right.
I have the sneaking suspicion you would say "Would you like to go to the store with Tom and I?" is correct. It is not. "Would you like to go to the store with I"? It's called an object of the prepostion. Object. Obejective form of 1st person singular is "me"
English is Subject+Verb+Object. Not Subject+Verb+Subject.
It sounds classy and elegant to you, but it ignores the basic rules of grammar.

"Hey" is used in Scandanavian countries ( eg: Hej / Hei / Hæ ) it is an actual word - so this is likley where "hey" comes from
In the Netherlands, it is "hoi"

I know sometimes people from the US might feel like they invented English but it's not the case, sorry :-)

Street Address vs. Mailing Address

i want adress for shopping

Repetitive- use when you want to simply describe an act that is characterized by repeating or repetition.

Repetitious- use when you want to describe an act that is characterized by repeating AND MARKED BY •useless• and •tiresome• repetition.

Repetitive- use when you want to simply describe an act that is characterized by repetition or repeating.
Repetitiously- use when you want to describe an act that is characterized by repeating AND MARKED BY useless and tiresome repetition.

Heaven or heaven?

  • Witness
  • September 17, 2020, 2:46pm

Only one Heaven exists.

Two Heavens do not exist.

Two heavens may exist, if and only if each heaven is not the true Heaven.

For the reason that there is only one true Heaven, and there are not two true Heavens, the true Heaven is a proper noun.

If you believe that every proper noun should be capitalized, and if you are referring to the one true Heaven, then you must spell the English word which is spelled with the English letters h, e, a, v, e, n, in that order, as Heaven, with an uppercase H, in order to be consistent with your own beliefs.

If you do not believe that every proper noun should be capitalized, why are you asking whether or not to capitalize Heaven?

If you are not referring to the one true Heaven, what are you referring to, and why would you refer to another heaven that is not the one true Heaven? Are you trying to tell me something false? If so, you had better not tell it to me! May the Lord God, Jesus the Christ, the Messiah, Yehoshua Ha-Mashiach Ben Yehovah Elohim, be with you! Amen.

I have succeeded with every letter but J. Some people submit that the J is silent in "marijuana" or "hallelujah" when, in fact, they are voiced not as the usual [d-zh] diphthong. The "ju" digraph in most -juana words is voiced as a W, while the j in hallelujah is voiced as a y. Some say V is never, ever silent, but I submit that the second V in the word "savvy" is, in fact, silent, since it is pronounced SA-vee, and not SAV-vee. Here is "my" alphabet:

a: boat
b: dumb
c: scene
d: Wednesday
e: once
*f: halfpenny is not American, but IS English (and though many people do pronounce the second f in “fifth,” it is not incorrect when pronounced “fith”)
g: gnostic
h: hour
i: business
j:
k: knowledge
l: would
m: mnemonic
n: autumn
o: phoenix
p: pneumonia
q: lacquer
r: macabre
s: island
t: ballet
u: guide
v: savvy
w: answer
x: faux
y: day
z: rendezvous

So what is the mark ' called?

So what is the mark before the v called

You're right: "...in the order in which it was received" is precisely what it should be. The phrase as it is, "in the order it was received," is grammatically the same as saying "in the manner it was done." Both phrases require an "in."

There are two options for inserting the "in" into the phrase as it stands. Because most English learners are taught to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition, "in the order it was received in" sounds incorrect, although it is technically correct. Thus, the only grammatically correct option that remains is "in the order it which it was received."

(Note: I am American, so I am abiding by the American English rule of placing commas and periods inside quotation marks--a rule I dislike, I might add.)