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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

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 : Grammar

1.  You don’t know how I am delighted to have you as a friend

2.  You don’t know how delighted I am to have you as a friend.

3. I hope one day I can do something for you to show you how you are lovable in my heart and mind.

4. I hope one day I can do something for you to show you how loved you are in my heart and mind.

Sentences 2 and 4 are correct; sentences 1 and 3 are not.  Please could you explain why?  Thank you.

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Is it possible to say “by the time we arrived at the cinema, the film was starting”? Or do I have to say “the film had started”? 

Both structures sound ok to me if I use another verb (sleep) instead of “start” (“by the time I got there, he was already sleeping”) so I do not know if I am using the structure right (perhaps I should use “when” and not “by the time”) or if it is the verb “start” (due to its meaning) what makes “by the time we arrived, the film was starting” sound strange. 

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I’ve read a sentence like this:

Not only did George buy the house, but he also remodeled it.

think this counts as a complex sentence, but I want to get some extra opinions.  Doesn’t “Not only did George buy the house” modify “remodeled,” thus making the first clause dependent?  In common English usage, the position of the subject “George” after “did” is fine in an interrogative sentence, but it’s not in a declarative sentence.  Does the departure from standard declarative syntax suggest that the first clause is not independent (and therefore dependent)?

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I have recently been seeing rejections of many phrases with ‘of’ in them because they are “less concise.” An example of this would be changing “All six of the men were considered dangerous” to “All six men were considered dangerous.” Recently, someone corrected a sentence I wrote and it just doesn’t sound right even though it may be concise. They changed “There are six species of snakes and four species of butterfly on the list” to “There are six snake species and four lizard species on the list.”

Bonus question: Is it “species of butterfly” or “species of butterflies”?

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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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Latest Comments

When used in that way, it is being used wrongly, and has somehow become common in the US.
Just as when they say "I could care less" but mean the opposite. It's not that the phrase is strange, it's the diction of the speaker that is strange. In countries that are not the US, people say "I couldn’t care less" and mean it to be understood the way it was spoken.

About "Respective"

  • dec
  • March 29, 2020, 12:13pm

the 'respective' is redundant in 'its respective area'.

i would add a comma after 'area'; but i am not sure about 'serves' or 'serve'. hmm, i guess 'serves' to match the tense of 'handles' (but could be 'handle' and 'serve').

“she” vs “her”

  • Little
  • March 21, 2020, 2:53pm

Which is correct? If I were a child I’d want her as a mother or If I were a child I’d want her for a mother?

“she” vs “her”

  • Little
  • March 21, 2020, 2:51pm

Which is correct, I wanted to send her and her dad on vacation or I wanted to send she and her dad on vacation

Also, too (an affectation I've adopted for the specific purpose of keeping the Sarah Palin fiasco fresh in people's minds: The mapping linked in the post immediately previous to mine doesn't show any regionalism to my marginally practiced eye. The ratios appear evenly distributed across population centers in the continental US, with the correct form still dominating for the present. (Thank whatever powers there are for small favors.)

Recent conversations on the subject dominated by Pacific Northwesterners and myself (New England born and raised and a hardcore "by accident" purist) revealed an interesting wrinkle: there are actually adults who use both, preferring to apply "on accident" to themselves and "by accident" to others. Further probing was rewarded only with the vaguest sense of a difference, but imputing intent does seem to be in play, i.e., one knows one's own intent and says "on accident" contrary to "on purpose," but with others one can only make the assumption that it was "by accident" based on reaction rather than intent. (Personally, I don't buy it, but my prescriptive criticism isn't going to make much headway with adults set in their linguistic ways.)

I like to simplify a sentence in order to figure it out. Let's do away with grandmother. If I am talking to my 5 year old daughter, I might say "I want you to become a doctor." However, if my daughter is 50 years old and a struggling attorney, I might say "I would have wanted you to become a doctor if it had been my decision."

Substantial vs. substantive

To me, substantive relates to quality, where substantial relates to size.

"The two parties engaged substantively" - ie, well
"The two parties engaged substantially" - ie, a lot

I read recently the way to do it is if you live at 123 Main St ,smalltown,VA 45643 and you are forced like I am to have a po box than your address is.
John Doe, 123 Main St # 543, Smalltown, VA 45643.