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Proofreading Service - Pain in the English

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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 : Grammar

In the following sentence, are both parts of the clause correct for a present unreal sentence?

“She would have wanted you to become a doctor if she were alive today”

In this sentence, shouldn’t it be this?

“She would want you to become a doctor if she...”

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What does “that” mean in the following sentences? Are there any rules which apply to the exact phrases which “that” refers to?

1. The graphs above show the rates of electricity generation of Kansas and “that” of the U.S. total in 2010. 

Q. Doesn’t “that” refer to “electricity generation”? If yes, isn’t “of” needed before “that”? 

2. The rate of electricity generation by nuclear power plants in Kansas was about the same as that of the U.S. total. 

Q. Doesn’t “that” refer to “the rate of electricity generation by nuclear power plants”? If yes, why is it “that in the U.S. total”, instead of “that of the U.S. total” to be parallel with in Kansas?

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There is a structure used by native speakers that I often read on social media, referring to people who have passed away, on the day of their anniversary. e.g. “He would have been 60 today.” Shouldn’t it be “He would be 60 today”? Meaning, if he were alive, he would be 60 today.

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In making a plaque, I need to know the correct grammar for the following.

  1. Walking Heavens woods with her daddy.
  2. Walking Heaven’s woods with her daddy.
  3. Walking Heavens’ woods with her daddy.

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I just read this in a Wall Street Journal article

 ”Sandy Bleich, a technology industry recruiter, says that for years a bachelor’s degree was enough ... Now recruiters like SHE are increasingly looking for someone with hands-on experience...”

Query: is the use of SHE correct?!

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“I had a talk with so and so,” is a common phrase, so I would imagine that “I had a small talk with so and so,” is equally correct. But “small talk” appears to be treated as an uncountable noun most of the time. Is it countable or uncountable? If both, in what contexts does it become one or the other?

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“We have to go to the store yet.”

I would just remove the “yet” all together; however, I keep hearing someone use the word yet in this fashion and I am wondering if they are grammatically correct.

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Problem with capitalizing and pluralizing official titles. For example:

He is a State Governor (or a state governor; a State governor; a state Governor: a governor of a state; Governor of a State?) in Nigeria. 

She is a deputy registrar (or is it a Deputy Registrar?) in my university. Many Deputy Registrars (or is it deputy registrars?) attended the conference.

Some university Registrars (or is it university registrars) have criticized the policy. 

Many Presidents (or is it presidents) came in person. Others were represented by their Vice Presidents (vice presidents?)

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Is it correct to say “she is in my same school”?

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Dear Sirs, I read your post on “I was/ I were”.  I found it very helpful, resuscitating memories of English classes. I’m still not sure if I should use “was” or “were” in this sentence, below. 

“And if anyone else were to peek, they would see the bear cubs looking fast asleep, dreaming of all the things they loved.”

The “anyone else” might be peeking and might not be peeking. We don’t know. “were” sounds better to my ear, but my MS Word has it underlined in green. Who is correct? Me or the machine?

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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:
as being what is indicated or suggested
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.