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

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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

It doesn't matter what the explanation is, it's WRONG.
ABC radio news has a reader named Brian Clark that does this incessantly. Just this week he read a story about something that was 'shtrongly shtruck down' and I wanted to punch him in the face.
Seriously - a professional news reader ON THE AIR doing this. Much hate.

Realize or realise?

I just looked into this topic. I thought I missed something since it's been many many moons that I've attended college. More and more often I would see words like realize organize omitting 'z' for a 's' I HATE IT, it's even happening on my TV when I use closed captioning. But I guess it's something I'm going to have to get used to it. Internet and social media are global. I think it must be confusing for youth in America, words that are not listed in our dictionary, being spelled that way?

If I were to write,....."He would be twenty today." Would that mean that today would have been his twentieth birthday or would that mean that, were he still alive, he would be twenty years old at this time?
Thank you.

Whom are you?

When I was younger, I used to say things like:
"It's me!"
"Whom are you?"
"It's her!"
"Whom is it?"

Simply because that's the way people talk in everyday life, and I wasn't particularly knowledgeable about grammar.

When I got into my twenties, I learned that—according to the rules of grammar—"to be" takes no object. Yet I still didn't change the way I spoke, because it seemed horribly pretentious and detached from real life.

However, now that I'm older, I feel differently about this. I'm starting to appreciate correct speech and correct grammar more, because I find it more dignified, more polite, and I just like the sound of it more.

Therefore I have found myself saying things like:
"It is I!"
"Who are you?"
"Is is her!"
"Who is it?"

As for the popular opinion that "whom" is archaic: I don't agree and, frankly, I don't care. I find "whom" completely natural to use in everyday speech. On the other hand, to me, sentences like: "My friends, all of who I love." just sound like terrible English, and totally jarring.

Proper usage of “as such”

I hate to bust your bubble, but your grammar is absolutely horrible. The fact that you say that you are a lawyer does not help the matter one iota. Let me be the bearer of bad tidings for a brief moment.
1) "This is a modern and incorrect utilization, although regrettably and progressively basic." First, there is no need for the comma in before your transition word "although" since the second part of your sentence is a subordinate clause. Second, the terms "regrettably progressively" are two adverbs that require a comma in between them.
2) Semicolons, and other punctuation, NEVER occurs in American English after the quotation mark unless you are writing English in the UK (i.e., "in itself"; should read "in itself;"). Again, paragraph two has the same mistake ("as such";).
3) The use of the word "reciprocal" is incorrect every time that you use it. I think you mean synonyms.
4) In paragraph three, you need commas ("By method, for instance,) because the clause contains information that is unnecessary.
5) In paragraph three the word "right" should read "correct" since right is a direction.
6) In paragraph three, again, there is no need for a comma before the conjunction "and" since the second part of the sentence is another subordinate clause.
7) In paragraph three, the word "just" is not the appropriate adverb since the word "just," in your context, does not denote time, manner, place, or degree.
8) Paragraph four is simply incorrect and should read: "I am a lawyer, and, as such, I am formally qualified to express opinions about legal matters." The mistake lies in the fact that the phrase "as such" is unnecessary. Refer to number four.
9) Paragraph 5 is incorrect for the same reasons as numbers eight and four.

Now that our grammar lesson is complete, allow me to address the usage of the phrase "as such." As such has multiple meanings, all of which can be used to avoid ambiguity but must be used in the correct context along with the correct meaning.
1) You may use as such with a negative to indicate that a word or expression is not a very accurate description of the actual situation.
2) You may use as such after a noun to indicate that you are considering that thing on its own, separately from other things or factors.
3) Here is the literal definition of the phrase:
1.
as being what is indicated or suggested
2.
in itself
4) The only other time the phrase "as such" can be used is at the beginning of a sentence to denote subsequent or consequent behavior of a person, place, or thing. That being said, this usage is still incorrect; however, we tend to look past this rule for the sake of legal language as well as other technical writing, such as medical.

Arto7, if you must deliberately-err in situations whereby your 'erroneous-act[s]' might've dire conequentials, then strive to err on the side of safety and reason.

In re "résumé" that could affect your employment application, just think:

a- IF you use "resume" to describe your curriculum vitae, your chosen word conveys 2-different meanings that strictly-business-specific communications might unlikely tolerate. Double-entendre words, phrases and sentences would lead to obvious misunderstanding.

b- However, the usage of the word "résumé" is specific to one and only meaning - that even in the hands of puristic-anglophile can be immediaetely-understood even if the said-anglophile might smirk at the word. You might be denied the job you've applied for on the prejudicial-basis of being perceived as a francophile - which if so. . .can give you legal grounds for appeal[s].

Well, I think part of the issue is cultural context, but a couple of the other issues additionally boil down to pronounciation as well along with the fact that many English speakers originate from European countries where they’re familiar with the accents of people from more Germanic and Latin-based linguistic backgrounds. With English being a Germanic language in origin with a large vocabulary of Latin-based loanwords, it makes sense that people from these similar types of cultural/linguistic backgrounds would have an easier time communicating while using the same language.

Furthermore, I’ve heard of a similar phenomenon occurring between readers of Japanese Kanji and Chinese Genji where a certain level of meaning can be shared/understood from similar characters used between both cultural groups. Perhaps it’s just me, but I think it is possible that a similar type of phenomenon is occurring in that instance as well.

B.A. recipient in English here.

Well, like you said in your post, it really depends on the context. For big data-driven project, I would say that is a big project that is data-driven. However, I would refer to a big-data driven project as a project driven by big data. You’re right though; the context really does matter, and the phrasing is also quite ambiguous.

Resume, resumé, or résumé?

  • arto7
  • February 6, 2019, 8:38pm

Interesting page. Clarified acute vs grave. However, I am thrown by the idea of not using the accent. With the acute accent mark I know it is the "hire me" document. Without it I first read resume, as in continue. Sure, context clarifies but my brain still sees resume.

I first started noticing the "shtr" mispronunciation in the early Eighties. Since then, more and more people have adopted this silly peccadillo to the point where it's almost become the preferred pronunciation.

When I point it out to people, almost all say they don't hear it, and many seem to think I'm just imagining the whole thing.

Not five minutes ago on a TV commercial, the (professional) spokesperson pronounced "history" as "hishtry," which even breaks the "str" rule.

As a person who takes pride in correctly pronouncing words, it "frushtrates" me to hear people butcher the language.

What can be done? As Lizzie Borden's father said, don't axe me. All I can do is continue to point it out and hope others will do the same.