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”

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

obstinacy vs. obstinancy

  • Mord
  • April 25, 2019, 12:35am

An obstinacy of Buffalo.. Obstinacy is the same as Gang or herd..

obstinacy vs. obstinancy

  • Mord
  • April 25, 2019, 12:34am

Obstinacy is a word. One use of this word is to describe a group of Buffalo.. An Obstinacy of Buffalo..

This has irritated me for years and it is getting worse. I've also heard the misuse in movies from the 40s. It seems to be a flaw in our education system.

Above I read "the speaker is not currently at". That also irritates me.

No Woman No Cry

The lyrics say:
No, woman, no cry;
No, woman, no cry.
'Ere, little darlin', don't shed no tears:
No, woman, no cry.

So it means No, Woman, don't cry

Pled versus pleaded

"Pleaded" sounds Juvenile, Inane, Asinine, and just plain STUPID.
One doesn't say they "Bleeded" when they cut themselves.

As far as I remember, this phrase comes from an American TV ad in the 70s promoting contacting loved ones via a phone call. It used the song 'Reach out and touch somebody's hand' as its theme and "reaching out" was its catchphrase.

I am so glad that this obnoxious phrase is annoying to other people besides myself. I think it's creepy and I have started telling businesses that use it that I do NOT wish to be reached out to, and that if they can't simply contact me then I will take my business elsewhere.

Pronunciation: aunt

If you call an Aunt an Ant do you call your mother a "Moth"er? If you call an Aunt an Ant do you pronounce Australia like Aestralia? I fear that the mispronunciation of Aunt comes from the inability of current people's ancestors to read. So very much like the current trend of troglodytes to use double negatives to add emphasis to their statements I am inclined to think that people mispronouncing Aunt as Ant is simply a matter of ignorance of how written English should be pronounced.

Past tense of “text”

After reading many (although not all) of these comments, I have observed that those who prefer "text" as a past tense verb tend to have more grammatical errors of other kinds in their posts than those who prefer "texted," giving them less credibility as qualified judges of what should be considered grammatically correct. I vote for texted.

Thank you for publishing this comment page. It was sooooo
comforting to learn that I am not the only one who has become
thoroughly disgusted with the increasing over-use, not to mention
incorrect use of this phrase. A typical example was a call I received yesterday from the receptionist in a dental office who said "Nancy asked me to reach out to you to ask if they could change an appointment time." Why didn't she simply ask if it
would be possible to change the time?