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

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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”

or

“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

"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.)

agree the terms

I was a student in England in the mid-1980s, and don’t remember hearing transitive usage. It strikes me as trendy talk that starts with journalists, maybe from broadcast school or a memo from corporate, like “ahead of” for “before” now. It doesn’t agree my ear....