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

and so...

  • Big DW
  • November 24, 2020, 9:25am

My girfriend says "and so" all the time especially when she's trying to sound smart, and it drives me crazy. It doesn't mean anything just like, "it is what it is," or "at the end of the day," or "that being said," or "if you will," and so ...

Actress instead of Actor

  • Pat99
  • November 24, 2020, 8:31am

I don't understand the commenters going so far as to say calling females ACTORs sounds "Orwellian", "ridiculous", or "distasteful". Or viewing the term ACTRESS for females as "empowering" or preferable.

What about many other terms in that same industry like director, producer, movie star, celebrity, entertainer, performer, talk show host, etc.?

What about the vast majority of professions in English? Some common ones:
- athlete
- coach
- musician / singer
- artist
- novelist / author / writer / blogger
- executive
- president
- politician
- lawyer
- doctor
- nurse
- therapist
- surgeon
- teacher
- architect
- designer
- engineer
- scientist
- researcher
- journalist
- reporter
- driver
- cashier
- bank teller
- secretary
- chef

None of these job / role nouns are inherently male or female, even though one sex may command the majority share of positions (historically or to this day).

@Diva4Jesus even wrote "I, however, like the fact that ladies and gentlemen are inherently different, and for me, vive la difference"

For professions where sex doesn't matter, how could you legally hire employees without discriminating against a particular sex, if you had female terms like "driveress" or "engineeress" for example? Sure ladies and gentlemen are different, but the job or role is not. At least according to women and many others who have been fighting for equality. Just like both sexes can perform the role of "parent" or "caregiver", even though a male cannot be a "mother".

Adding new classifications for roles based on sex would be counterproductive and provide no value. In an increasingly complex world where an individual can choose their gender and pronouns, yet ask or legally require others to respect that decision, it would be complete chaos. If you really want to differentiate, a mechanism already exists - you can say "female actor" or "male nurse".

My only ‘exposure’ to American-English is on CNN and I have only noticed this ‘shtr’ in the last two years or so.... it is indeed very strange and I cannot see any reason for it. I am also hearing more and more people using the hiatus R... as in ‘the ideaR of it’. Very definitely a very British thing, maybe even English more than British. It certainly is not a feature in Irish-English thankfully. It sounds so awkward and unnecessary.

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I have written an essay about a painting, William Trost Richards’s A Rocky Coast. I sought the assistance of this website to verify the use of my preposition following the word “gift.” Here is my sentence: And don’t miss the almost imperceptible pink, all across the water’s surface, a gift of the setting sun.
I had to smile, because I now see the meaning to be more like a charitable contribution from the sun, rather than something simply given “from” the sun. So, thank you for all the interplay of responses, which have helped me with this sentence in prose.

Past tense of “text”

On second thought maybe it should be pronounced as I TEXT,S YOU YOU LAST NIGHT and I TEXTED YOU as pasttens? Da. Beast out?

Past tense of “text”

The word text is the right way to say I TEXT YOU ok yesterday.? The Beast out.