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 : Punctuation and Mechanics

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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Could I use both a colon and semicolon in a sentence?

A college will provide help for students who are struggling in homework; the resources are: study skills that help students to be on top of coursework, counselors will give advices dealing with the workload, and the option to drop a class early.

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For example, “Every morning, I wake up at 6:00 am and then I make a cup of coffee.”

As a writing teacher for international students, I see this kind of sentence all the time. I know it is technically correct to use a comma before a coordinating conjunction, but I have found that so many Americans omit this comma that it has become extremely commonplace even among native English speakers. Is it socially acceptable in writing to omit the comma? How serious is it to mandate that my international include this comma?

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Latest Comments

God bless me, maybe you too! One day at a time!!?!

Another thing to consider is the sequence of events.

Has the person/character already chosen a career (Would have wanted you to) or are they making a choice right now (would want you to)?
Depending on the answer, the subjunctive (if she were alive today) might be the part that needs changing.

This one feels correct:
2.) If she were alive today, she would want you to become a doctor.
It feels correct because today is when the decision is being made in that sentence.

If the decision has already been made this would be more appropriate:
3.) If she had been alive, she would have wanted you to become a doctor.

The point is, her not being alive must line up temporally with the decision.

I have a similar dilemma: a question said as a statement, where the strength of the character is revealed through his tone. He is not looking for an answer and thus his tone drops at the end. If I write a question mark there, then the reader might read an upwards inflection and miss the subtle insight.

The question/statement is as follows:
'How about I settle that grumble in your belly and show you what the fuss is all about?'
or
'How about I settle that grumble in your belly and show you what the fuss is all about.'
As a reader, which one works to convey that he isn't going to take no for an answer?

Maybe I should just rephrase it to avoid confusion:
'Let's settle that grumble in your belly and show you what the fuss is all about.'
But damn it, why limit myself like that?

With 'Who knows', who knows which one is right. It can be expressed as a direct question, like a teacher asking 'who knows the answer to this?'. Or it could be said with sass, like the oracle in the Matrix when she is asked to clarify what Neo is waiting for, 'Your next life perhaps, who knows.' Her tone drops to imply she has no further insight for him.
'Who knows what the answer is.' feels like an alternative of 'I don't know.' or 'No one knows.' or 'I don't know who could possibly know that.'

If this is still confusing, you are not alone.
Don't worry, have a cookie and you'll feel better.

Double Words

I constantly hear my parents (who are of German descent) say double words in a weird way and I am trying to think of a way to describe it. It's not 'inflection' but it has something to do with the way they pause or lack thereof during saying particular words such as Pork Chop. They will say them with different tones like they are two different words and not part of one whole and it really irritates me.

Please, I need a terminology for this.

Jun-Dai is a pretentious asshat, or at least he was in 2004. Also yes "all but" is still a garbage phrase 15 years later.

He was sat

I quite undestand ' i was sat' instead of 'i was sitting' ! To sit is the action of adopting a position in which one's weight is supported by one's buttocks and this action doesn't take long except maybe for an eldery person ! So if i say the phrase 'someone is sitting on the bench', it should express the fact that they are precisely putting their buttocks on the bench' and once they're done, they are sat !

He was sat

I quite undestand ' i was sat' instead of 'i was sitting' ! To sit is the action of adopting a position in which one's weight is supported by one's buttocks and this action doesn't take long except maybe for an eldery person ! So if i say the phrase 'someone is sitting on the bench', it should express the fact that they are precisely putting their buttocks on the bench' and once they're done, they are sat !

It's funny. Even in 2019 the dictionary still hasn't decided and instead has listed both mouses and mice. LOL! Look at #4.
mouse (mous)
n. pl. mice (mīs)
1.
a. Any of numerous small rodents of the families Muridae and Cricetidae, such as the house mouse, characteristically having a pointed snout, small rounded ears, and a long naked or almost hairless tail.
b. Any of various similar or related animals, such as the jumping mouse, the vole, or the jerboa.
2. A cowardly or timid person.
3. Informal A discolored swelling under the eye caused by a blow; a black eye.
4. pl. mice or mous·es (mous′ĭz) Computers A handheld, button-activated input device that when rolled along a flat surface directs an indicator to move correspondingly about a computer screen, allowing the operator to move the indicator freely, as to select operations or manipulate text or graphics.

mines

The cartoon show "O" frequently uses words like this, with a style of speach the is very much like baby talk. My 8yo son had said mines and it took awhile to keep correcting him. We don't live anywhere that that type of speach is used. The TV travels far and wide. Monitor what they watch. Utube is one of the worst.

It's NOT okay. Brian Clark reads the news on ABC radio news with this defect. NO professional news reader should be on air doing this.
Shtructure, shtrike, shtrict...I want to punch him.