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 : Coinage

I’ve been listening to Van Morrison’s “Friday’s Child” for quite some time now because I love this song so much. I tried to look up the meaning of ” Friday’s Child” but onbly found a reference to an old rhyme. Can anybody tell me the meaning of the saying “Friday’s Child” and when and why it is used? Many thanks.

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Am I alone in despairing when I hear phrases like:

  • “We played brilliant.”
  • “He did it wrong.” (or more commonly “He done it wrong.”)
  • “He behaved stupid.”

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Some people think that there is a difference in meaning between “in that regard” and “in that respect”, some believe that a lot of phrases using “regard” or “regards” are in fact making inappropriate use of the word, and of course some think there is nothing wrong with such usage.

Does anyone else think that the phrase “In that regard” is overused and misused?

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Is there any defense of capitalizing after a semicolon? This reads well to me:

We do not sell tricycles; We sell velocipedes. 

Learn the difference.

Not capitalizing the first word of the second clause diminishes the perceived parallelism:

We do not sell tricycles; we sell velocipedes.

The store around the corner sells bicycles.

With a period between them, the first two clauses read like the premises of a syllogism:

We do not sell tricycles. We sell velocipedes.

Do we sell unicycles?

I will continue, of course, to pen as I please, but, in this instance, wonder if I can confidently publish as I please.

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Is separating two coordinating-conjunction-linked sentences, the former having a comma(s), with a semicolon instead of a comma logically justified?

In GrammarBook.com’s Semicolons category, Rule 5. reads:

Use the semicolon between two sentences joined by a coordinating conjunction when one or more commas appear in the first sentence.

Examples: When I finish here, I will be glad to help you; and that is a promise I will keep.

If she can, she will attempt that feat; and if her husband is able, he will be there to see her.

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The AP Stylebook today announced that electronic mail is now spelled without a hyphen: email. Finally. I personally haven’t used “e-mail” in about a decade. We have a thread here on this topic of how to properly spell email.

http://painintheenglish.com/case/4463

At the time, I commented that it may take another 10 years for this to settle, but it took less than a year!

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How does one know exactly when a word is supposed to end with -“ise” vs -“ize” in Oxford spelling?

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Onamography is a writing technique that involves creatively incorporating proper nouns (company names, celebrities, etc.) in regular English sentences.

A few examples to clarify the concept:

Onnicle 1: The man at the bar acknowledged that he found the job amateurish. Onnicle 2: The SMS said..Bob ill. The rag ate sick shellfish!

The first sentence has ‘Barack Obama’ embedded in it and the second one has Bill Gates. The concept can be extended to include multiple names in a paragraph.

I’ve been trying to find out if there is already a technical name in English to describe it. Onamography is a coined word (Greek origin: onuma --> name, graphe --> writing) as I couldn’t find anything else that comes close to describing the concept.

Any inputs?

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Have you noticed that, at trendy cafes, more than half of the laptop computers you see are the new MacBooks? (Well, at least in New York City.) I don’t mean any MacBook; I’m talking about the latest MacBook (”the brick”). In fact, I believe seeing the older versions of MacBooks is rarer than seeing PC laptops.

If these people are deciding to work at cafes for practical reasons, then the laptop demographic should be much more diverse, with a lot more PCs and older versions of MacBook, but this is not what I see. The demographic is heavily skewed towards the latest models of MacBook. So, I would have to conclude that the reason why these MacBook owners come out to cafes is because they want to show off their brand new MacBooks.

It would makes sense, therefore, to coin a term for showing off your MacBook at a cafe. I’ve struggled with this for a while, and this morning, I decided that it should be “Mac off”.

“Hey, honey. I’m gonna go Mac off at the Starbucks for a few hours, OK?”

“At a cafe in Williamsburg, I saw about a dozen people sitting in a row Mac’ing off.”

“I bought the new MacBook Pro last week, but I haven’t Mac’ed off yet.”

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If you have a kid and a stroller, I’m sure you’ve experienced this many times. You hang a lot of stuff from the handle of the stroller, and when the kid jumps out of it, the whole thing topples over.

One of my friends wants a word for this (a verb). I tried to think of one, but I couldn’t come up with a good one. (”Stropple”, for instance, isn’t so good because the sound of it lacks the impact of the actual event.) Can anyone think of one?

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Latest Comments

He was sat

I quite undestand ' i was sat' instead of 'i was sitting' ! To sit is the action of adopting a position in which one's weight is supported by one's buttocks and this action doesn't take long except maybe for an eldery person ! So if i say the phrase 'someone is sitting on the bench', it should express the fact that they are precisely putting their buttocks on the bench' and once they're done, they are sat !

He was sat

I quite undestand ' i was sat' instead of 'i was sitting' ! To sit is the action of adopting a position in which one's weight is supported by one's buttocks and this action doesn't take long except maybe for an eldery person ! So if i say the phrase 'someone is sitting on the bench', it should express the fact that they are precisely putting their buttocks on the bench' and once they're done, they are sat !

It's funny. Even in 2019 the dictionary still hasn't decided and instead has listed both mouses and mice. LOL! Look at #4.
mouse (mous)
n. pl. mice (mīs)
1.
a. Any of numerous small rodents of the families Muridae and Cricetidae, such as the house mouse, characteristically having a pointed snout, small rounded ears, and a long naked or almost hairless tail.
b. Any of various similar or related animals, such as the jumping mouse, the vole, or the jerboa.
2. A cowardly or timid person.
3. Informal A discolored swelling under the eye caused by a blow; a black eye.
4. pl. mice or mous·es (mous′ĭz) Computers A handheld, button-activated input device that when rolled along a flat surface directs an indicator to move correspondingly about a computer screen, allowing the operator to move the indicator freely, as to select operations or manipulate text or graphics.

mines

The cartoon show "O" frequently uses words like this, with a style of speach the is very much like baby talk. My 8yo son had said mines and it took awhile to keep correcting him. We don't live anywhere that that type of speach is used. The TV travels far and wide. Monitor what they watch. Utube is one of the worst.

It's NOT okay. Brian Clark reads the news on ABC radio news with this defect. NO professional news reader should be on air doing this.
Shtructure, shtrike, shtrict...I want to punch him.

I pronounced history not as hishtry hut histry with the accent on the H and deemed it correct. Where as historian is pronounced as spelt. It is not an unusual thing in English for a word to take its own character. One good example might be: in writing " particular ", but in speech is pronounced peticular. I don't know, that is what I am lead to believe.

Would I presume is past tense of will. She would want you... here there is no doubt of what she would have wanted. Where as " She would have wanted you...", is merely a wish.

“dis” vs “un”

It is only a couple of weeks from 'Eliza Doolittle Day' (20 May)—which is dedicated to speaking and writing with proper English—and I stumbled upon this site. While some of the commenters on the site are not only well informed, but easy to understand. Others however, are a different story. For years I have said that English is dead. People completely disregard: spelling, proper word choice, grammar, and punctuation. Some even invent their own words, or new definitions for existing words when there is an already perfectly good word in existence that means exactly what they mean.

When it comes to dis- & un- as prefixes, 'Chesh' and 'Porsche' explained the differences best. The prefix dis- is the antithesis of the root word, while un- is the absence of the root word.

Example 1: The judge was a disinterested party in that he had no stake in the outcome of the trial. However, juror number six was uninterested in the entire proceeding, preferring to be at work.

Example 2: When Mary dropped her purse, its contents scattered across the floor in a disorganized mess. When the new base commander arrived, he immediately saw the unorganized mess that was his command and took immediate steps to correct the matter.

Example 3: George had a dislike for peanuts due to the allergic reaction they caused whenever he ate them. Marsha felt unliked by her parents because they never showed outward signs of affection such as, being hugged or told "I love you."

Example 4: The company had a disused facility that was awaiting sale or demolition. After the production run, there were some unused parts left over.

We have different words that have similar meanings, so that we can express different 'flavors' within the general meaning. If they truly meant the exact same thing, we would not have different words. As with anything in English, there are always a few exceptions. Always check a GOOD dictionary [OED, Collins, Webster's, etc.] for proper meanings and usages when in doubt. In fact, why not visit a physical dictionary regularly, flip through the pages and learn new words, or proper usages of words you thought you already knew. It is amazing the words you can learn.

I'm a former broadcast journalist, and I noticed this problem creeping into our national language. It's an ANNOYING trend, and nowadays it's prevalent among MANY to MOST Black or latino journalists. I think it's mostly a cultural thing. Kind of like saying "axe" instead of "ask".

I also dislike this idiom, but not because it means the opposite of what it suggests. Rather, I dislike this idiom for the same reason I dislike saying "everything except" in its place; both expressions are vague.

What I mean by this is that, while saying that an army was "all but" wiped out certainly CAN mean that everything was done short of wiping it out, another grammatically correct way to interpret those words is to assume that you also tried giving the army puppies, letting them go, etc.

So it is vague in the sense that it can both nearly mean the opposite of what is intended and also something very close to what is intended. However, most English speakers have accepted that the idiom means only one of those two possible things.

The reason this frustrates me is that many idioms are not ambiguous. Ambiguity is the death of language. It is important that people know what we mean when we say what we say, and the "all but" idiom lacks context for making its meaning clear.

This is particularly important for people who do not speak English as their native language. For those people, it's important to have idioms have a reasonable explanation as how to they gained their meaning. For "all but", however, it seems the choice of what it means was simply arbitrary. It could be used to mean one of two things, and one way was used more often than another, so that became the meaning. But it still has another possible, literal meaning, leading to the ambiguity if one is unfamiliar with the generalized decision due to years of forming the modern vernacular.