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

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

Idea Vs. Ideal

  • Lponce
  • January 20, 2020, 6:01pm

I've heard so many people use Ideal for Idea, I began to doubt myself,and looked it up,

There is no mystery to the Pronunciation of ‘a‘ and ‘the‘ in front of words! The ‘aye ‘ goes in front of vowels, ( aye uterus) however changes to ‘an’ when it is cumbersome (an octopus) . The ‘uh’ sound is used in front of consonants. Many people whose first language is not English or those with discreet dialects adopt incorrect usage feeling that it elevates their diction Now we have become accustomed to the nuance and linguists would accept it as correct for a region or culture. Listen to Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady singing Why Can’t The English (pronounced THEE ) Teach Their Children How To Speak?

Might could

One issue that may be relevant is that "could" also implies possibility or uncertainty in some cases. If you ask me if I will edit a spreadsheet for you and I respond that I will, then there is no uncertainty. If I respond that I could, there is an implication of uncertainty. If I were to include both "might" and "could", I am using two words that both suggest uncertainty.

With regard to a previous comment, it is inaccurate to suggest that individuals who use a term when speaking will not use that same term in their writing. While it may be less common to use some informal or regional terms in writing, I have seen many students and co-workers use informal terms in their writing.

I'm here because I've found such occurrence in my English book. The word "mouses" sounds horrible, even for a non native English speaker. I've been reading quite a lot of comments in here and I'm astonished there's no certain rule in English, as well as tech companies avoid the plural usage via "mouse devices".
In my point of view, I'd stand for "computer mice" in order to be grammatically correct, but hopefully it will be decided in the future so we can avoid seeing official English books using the word "mouses".

Pled versus pleaded

  • Kimmie
  • January 13, 2020, 11:48pm

I automatically hear pled, when ever I see pleaded.

Pled versus pleaded

  • Kimmie
  • January 13, 2020, 11:47pm

I agree with you 100 percent, this has been bothering me for a long time.

Pled versus pleaded

It seems like a leftist conspiracy to simplify for people who speak English as a second language. It is just the first thing to go. Couldn’t even find pled in an online dictionary before I frustratedly googled “What happened to pled”.
How does this happen. Who gets the media to line up like this?
Glad to find this page and the comments here.
Thank you for being here.

Do not induce vomiting

I I'm only here by accident I'm not sure how, but more than likely due to all the different link clicking and redirecting tabs I hit... And then I decided to stay for a while and see what was being shared, because I found it to be almost informative but even more entertaining ! So even though I have nothing important to comment on or of any relevance to this thread. I just wanted to say I do appreciate you guys for giving me an almost pleasant 10 minute experience ! Peace out homie

V-cards

I earned it.

I live in the American south and I never heard the use of “bring” when one means “take” until the most recent decade and I believe it’s a New York construct. No one I know says “ I brought my child to the doctor” for example, but I hear this on television and radio shows.