Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
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 a 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 : Punctuation and Mechanics

I wrote, “I have two sons, Bill and Ben.”

An editor said that the comma should be a colon. That opinion is backed up by various style guides which say a list (and presumably “Bill and Ben” is a list) should be preceded by a colon. I still feel that a colon is unnecessary, though I probably would use a colon if I had five sons not two. Would I use a colon with three sons? I’m not sure.

Had I written, “I have two sons, Bill and Ben, both in their twenties” there would surely be no question of a colon being required. It seems odd to me that omitting the final phrase, “both in their twenties” forces the first comma to become a colon.

I would be interested in others’ views.

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Which of the follow is correct? 

  • CAYA stands for “come as you are.” 
  • “CAYA” stands for “come as you are.”               

I am not referring to the Nirvana song, so I assume that capitalization is not necessary when spelling out what the initialism stands for.

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If a city and state (and full date) start a sentence in possessive form, would you consider the punctuation correct in the following three examples?

  • Frankfort, Kentucky’s crime rate has increased.
  • Paris, France’s breathtaking sights left us in a state of raptures.
  • September 11, 2001’s tragic events will forever be indelibly etched in the minds of everyone.

Please, no recasts. 

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When including a complete sentence in parentheses, what are the rules? For example, someone just sent me this in an email:

“I always change some of the readings from semester to semester (for example, I am trying out the book on migration for the first time this semester and am not sure if I will keep it in the Fall).”

But I could just as easily see it written this way:

“I always change some of the readings from semester to semester. (For example, I am trying out the book on migration for the first time this semester and am not sure if I will keep it in the Fall.)”

Are both acceptable? Is one preferred? 

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When making a list of the very same name of something, is it proper english to use one quotation mark in place of the same name or word after writing it a couple of times down the list? I can’t seem to find anything on it.

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Which ending punctuation sequence is correct for a question dialogue sentence containing a quotation within it?

a. ”Does the menu say, ‘no substitutions?’” asked Jo.

or

b. ”Does the menu say, ‘no substitutions’?” asked Jo.

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My friend is sending an invitation, and she is using the date of:

January, 16th 2016

Is this technically correct, or at a minimum not considered barbaric? Where should the comma be?

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In a sentence, there is the name of a company followed by an abbreviation, the initials of the company, in parentheses. The company name is a possessive in this sentence. Where does the apostrophe go? I want to know how this would work, as I am having trouble finding anything but advice to restructure the sentence, and I would like an answer that gives me what to do with the sentence as it stands.

Example: This policy sets a standard for determining access to Introspective Illusions (II) resources.

Would it be Introspective Illusions’ (II’s) or  Introspective Illusions’ (II) or some other construction?

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Should a rhetorical question end with a question mark?

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I have a question about “;” and “—” as used in sentence structure. I prefer using — i.e. “He did not expect to meet anyone—the house had been empty for years—and was surprised to hear whistling from the upper floor.”

Now, as I wrote a line in my story, as sentence ran away from me and I ended up using a ; at the end, as well as the — and I got the feeling that maybe it had to be one or the other all the way through and not a mix. Anyway, the sentence (racial slur warning)

Rod had not let her buy the beer herself at first—not until father had gone down there and cleared up some misconceptions from that sneaky pool-digger—and hadn’t that been a fun day to be alive; now he just gave her sympathetic looks whenever she came to get beer for her father.

So, in such a sentence, is it right to use both the “—” and the “;”? I can always rebuild it, but it felt right to me somehow, even though I got uncertain about if it would sting in the eyes of others.

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Latest Comments

“Can I get…” is not perceived as rude in North America; merely uneducated. Language does drift, but it is worthwhile to fight against drift when it tends to denigrate meaning. As others have pointed out, “Can I get….” is, properly understood, an inquiry about the questioner’s physical ability to go obtain the thing himself. Unless the thing itself doesn’t exist, the proper response to a “Can I get…” question is, “You would know better than I whether you can or not.”

For about twenty years, I've been noticing that what used to be mainly children's errors, like these, have been entering the mainstream of adult speech. To say "I haven't ate yet" or "Grandma got ran over by a reindeer", were once limited to preschoolers, but now I hear this kind of thing all. the. time. I don't mean, by the way, speakers of distinct dialects, or ESL speakers. I refer to native speakers of General American, frequently with college degrees as well.

Are other languages experiencing this kind of breakdown, where nothing is considered wrong anymore?

Computer mouses or computer mice?

Mouses is my preference for the Binary Rodents. Just because the majority would use "mice" does not make it correct. The majority can not spell, nor construct a sentence, and use the word "like" in place of a comma. Does bad spelling and bad grammar negate spelling and grammatical rules? May it never be. I vote for mouses. One exception is where you are hitting mouses with a hammer, then "beating the meeses to peesus" is more than acceptable, as it conforms to the Mr Jinks Rhyming Cartoon Rules. B-)

“she” vs “her”

I have a friend who only uses "she", declension be damned. To hear her speak is the equivalent of bumping ones head on a low hanging branch, but one that you know is there. Example. Sheila " Martha has gone to university and is doing well." Friendwhoshallnotbenamed " I had heard that of she." Sheila, "Her mother told me." FWSNBN: " Carol is always encouraging to she." I've tried to explain it but she is absolutely convinced that speaking of someone you know as her, is ill mannered.

Same difference

There is no math way of having the same difference because you have to use two totally different equations to equal the same number therefore they are not the same only equal

Same difference

I totally agree nothing is the same difference

Where are the commas?

Add or remove commas, if necessary, until the sentence has correct punctuation.
Mr.
Crocker
can
juggle
oranges
and
bananas
at
the
same
time.

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Past perfect with until

helo

East Virginia, in the United States, and Toronto, Canada say “out” and “about” the same way…

I have friends from both places…

therefore, thus as conjunctions

Whereas -and- is a coordinating conjunction, -thus- is a subordinating conjunction. And it all depends upon the sense that one thinks, and it is a subjective word here.