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 : Pet Peeves

Is anyone annoyed by “double words,” such as:  Were you happy happy?  Was it fixed fixed?  Do you know how to type type?  Now, here’s a doozy:  “He’s in his office office.”  What in the heck does that mean?  I’d appreciate your feedback.

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Just how screwed has our language become?

Why do we hear phrases like:

“If he gets in contact with you”

when there are simpler and more meaningful phrases like:

“If he gets in touch with you”


“If he contacts you”.

Why do people have this predilection with “get” or “got”?

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Not content with using “roading” as a noun meaning “the provision and building of roads” the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) has now introduced another example of why suits should not be allowed to write signs.

A stretch of motorway on the north side of Auckland is being widened and there is a forest of signs proclaiming “3 laning project in progress”!

GRRRR GNASH GNASH!!                              :)

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I came upon this on their website: “The Senior Management Team at Fettes College have day to day responsibilities for the running of The College. They meet regularly throughout the year and feedback to staff and Governors as appropriate.”

Leaving aside the rather Germanic employment of capital letters on some, but strangely then not all, of the nouns in this statement, and the wholly gratuitous ‘as appropriate’ tacked on to fill up some space, I find most irksome the use here of ‘feedback’ as a verb. I would use two words: ‘feed back’ (a compound verb), or I would insert a verb and say ‘provide feedback’ (noun + verb). In fact I would much prefer to avoid this ugly expression altogether and use a term such as ‘report back to’ or ‘report to’. Am I alone in finding this whole thing rather disappointing for a major British school?

It’s like the sign at Gatwick airport which directs passengers to do something along the lines of ‘check-in here’ where what is meant is ‘check in here’ because ‘check in’, being what you do, is a compound verb, and ‘check-in’, being the name of the place where you do it, is a noun. 

It is very elementary grammar, as taught to me at about the age of eight, noun! verb! and I find it almost incredible that a renowned Scottish public school can be so sloppy, and that a major airport in England, an English-speaking country, does not proof-read what is to be painted in huge letters on its walls. 

On the other hand, one’s reaction to seeing in Phnom Penh, in Cambodia, the “PRINCESSS HOTEL” in huge pink neon lights ranged in a column above the door, has to be mirth, and wondering what the extra S cost the management. It is not as though they could not afford an apostrophe, as in the foyer are life-size photographs of a number of these estimable ladies, so the ‘princesss’ are plural. So it was an ‘e’ which proved beyond budget, then, or a proof-reader. But that of course is forgivable, as it is not in an anglophone country.

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I’m not usually a peever, but I do make an exception for business buzzwords. A recent survey in Britain found that many office workers felt ‘management-speak’  to be ‘a pointless irritation’. Up to now my least favourite has been ‘going forward’, an expression Lucy Kellaway at the Financial Times campaigned against when it first appeared, but to no avail: everyone uses it now, from Obama to Beckham. But the one that I’m increasingly noticing is ‘reach out’. 

Apart from its physical meanings, my dictionary gives this meaning for ‘reach out’:

reach out to somebody - to show somebody that you are interested in them and/or want to help them - “The church needs to find new ways of reaching out to young people.”

Which is fine. But increasingly it seems to be being used simply to mean ‘contact’, especially on tech sites, for no good reason that I can see other than trendiness. Some examples:

‘If you would like any other suggestions or need help with transitioning your current Google Reader RSS feeds, please reach out to a Library’

‘Wired has also reached out to Google for additional comment.’

‘If you want to follow up, feel free to reach out to me by phone.’

I know I’m just an old fuddy-duddy, and these expressions are harmless, but they do niggle a bit. Any comments? Or anyone for Buzzword Bingo?

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It’s one I had not encountered before moving to NZ. Now I hear it and read it almost daily. Yet a Google seach shows 843,000 hits for NZ out of a total of 267,000,000 so it is obviously not restricted to the antipodes.

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My beef is with titled vs entitled. It seems that it is now acceptable to use entitled in the place of titled. For example: Jane won the contest so she was entitled to the winnings. This is correct. Jane wrote a book and it was entitled ‘How to win at the lottery’ In my opinion, the book was not entitled to anything. The misuse of the word is very widespread and supposedly the meaning has now been officially changed.

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Biggest pet peeve: anything that “changed history.” You cannot change what has already happened. It is over and done with. Even if you go back in time and make changes, you have not changed history, because now it never happened the original way. The original events never happened, became “the past,” and were therefore never history! The only history at that point is the one that did take place as a result of changes being made. There is only one history, regardless of sci-fi movies’ time travel themes, etc., and that is why every form of the phrase “to change history” drives me crazy!

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Pet peeve 3

Saying “get in contact’ or “keep in contact”

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As a follow up to Hairy Scot’s pet peeves. One of mine is the American pronunciation of Gala - gey-luh instead of the traditional English gal-uh.

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Latest Comments

No Woman No Cry

I always thought it meant, ‘if he doesn’t have a woman, he won’t cry,’ as in, having his or a woman causes him pain and tears, not having one spares him the pain that comes to him in a relationship...

Pronunciation: aunt

  • Aly Cat
  • December 11, 2018, 2:31pm

I am from Jackson, Michigan (US) and pronounce it "awnt/ont/ahnt." I do as such because of the 'u' (aunt). In Ann Arbor, most pronounce it the same way but in Jackson, it is most pronounced "ant." I see both as acceptable. English is confusing and crazy, that's the point of this website. Both are correct, "awnt" tends to be more formal. Use whichever you want and understand that others can say it differently.

On Tomorrow

I’m originally from Southern California and moved to South Carolina in 1981. I’ve heard “on tomorrow”, “on yesterday”, and “I’m not for sure”, “on accident” and most recently “this yesterday” ???? These errors in grammar continue to vex. I wonder what Ann Landers would have suggested as a polite way of correcting people in a spirit of educating them.

Really happy or real happy

Ops...sorry, the first is an adjective, the second is an adverb* If we accept the first (real) as adverb too, it becomes a great confusion. Shall we let confused people continue confusing us, the learners? :)

Really happy or real happy

I cannot believe that I read all this. Real is real, really is really "really" : ) Over. As we know the first is an adverb, the second is an adjective! Why to confuse them and the learners? What do we achieve if we do it? Huh?

me vs. myself

@Warsaw Will - Me, not “we” was the intended correction for the object pronoun. Man, I wish there was an edit function here, or if there is, I wish I could find it. How embarrassing. - Maekong Mike

Pronunciation: aunt

  • December 5, 2018, 9:54pm

Texas, Florida, Illinois, California:

We pronounced it like aint growing up in Dallas, and got laughed at for sounding too country. Now I pronounce it ant, and refuse to pronounce it as awnt because that sounds pompous, like Madonna talking with that fake English accent - we know she's from Michigan.

Also, I pronounce the word either and neither as eee-ther / nee-ther, and not eye-ther / nye-ther because... same reason I'm not British. Words aren't always necessarily pronounced the way they are spelled. If you feel like they should be, then start pronouncing 'do' like 'so' and not like 'too', and by all means pronounce two like it's spelled. Pronounce laugh loff, and see how people laugh at you the way they did when I used to say "Aint Shirley".

Pronunciation: aunt

  • December 5, 2018, 9:45pm

Texas / Illinois / Califonia
It's prononced ant. Not ont. Similarly, either is pronounced eee-ther, and not eye-ther, unless you want to be like Madonna and pretend you have an English accent. Go ahead and pronounce the word laugh as loff and notice how you get loffed at.

me vs. myself

Warsaw will. We is a subject pronoun:
We love prunes.

Questions in Bulleted Lists

List bullets are appropriate. It is acceptable to remove the colon (:) and use the question mark at the end, or leave the colon and not use the question mark. If using the question mark, it acceptable to list the items themselves as sub-bullets. A question mark at the end of the list is inappropriate in this case.

The case where it is appropriate is when you create a list something like this:

When using flour, would you use:

(bullet) Bread,
(bullet) Cake, or
bullet) Cookies?