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 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.


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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Wonderful to find that I'm not alone in being annoyed by this silly use of "reach out". Like a lot of irritating Americanisms it has landed on the shores of England and unfortunately spread like Covid19. Apparently, when I contact my bank, I've "reached out" to them, as if I'm drowning. While I'm at it, another recent aberration is the pretentious use of "myself" for the simple "me". As in, "If you have any questions, please reach out to myself". That makes myself very annoyed!

She must have been a difficult woman when she was alive becasue she is causing mayhem now that she is dead...

I like the final version. My background is science and engineering. It's been a lifelong quest to achieve the most concise grammar which is also interesting. Hence the final version gets my vote.
I note that 'species' is both singular and plural. therefore both “species of butterfly” & “species of butterflies” should be correct.

most unique

  • Edword
  • January 19, 2021, 10:37pm

Having just had an argument about this here is a slightly different slant. Suppose one box has nine identical red icecreams and one blue one and another box has nine identical blue icecreams and one red one. We could say the first box is more red than the second box, meaning it has more red elements, not that the individual elements are more red. So a team might have more individuals who are unique than another team and for convenience we could say it is 'more unique' rather than laboriously stating that it has more members who are unique. I don't see a problem with this although my friend disagrees strongly.

It depends on what you exactly mean, and perhaps on the context.

“I’m just saying”

Its an instigators tool to shaken up the social statues qou among peers, all while trying to excusing himself from any and all responsibility of its possible negative outcome... at least thats what I use it for. :) ;)

Um i have a quetion can i get something to eat or may i get something to eat?


As If vs. As Though

I'm the same speedwell who originally answered this question, heh. I was pushed by a Singaporean colleague to sort this out, and they would not accept "forget it; they're both the same these days" as an answer. They were *interested*. So I spent some more time thinking about it, and I realised I do have an unconscious preference. (Oh, and I have code switched to British rules because I now live in Ireland.)

The difference is subtle but meaningful and has to do with *plausibility*. Imagine I were a chef in a restaurant, and I asked a server how a food critic liked the dish I cooked. They might say, with their thoughts in brackets:

- "Well, she ate it as if she liked it." (I am of the opinion that she liked it, since she ate it with enthusiasm.)
- "Well, she ate it as though she liked it." (I am of the opinion that she didn't, since it seemed like it was an effort for her to eat more than the first bite of it.)

In other words, I would lean toward "as if" if the conditional was plausible or likely, and "as though" if the conditional was implausible or unlikely or imaginary. A few more examples:

- I walked down Union Street as if Aberdeen was my new home. (I'm just a tourist, but it feels like a homecoming somehow.)
- I walked down Union Street as though Aberdeen were to be my new home. (I wanted to make myself look like a potential new resident, not just a tourist, but I'm not really going to live here.) Note the subjunctive, which, while dead as a dodo, is still used with "though" and not "if", as noted by others.

- The little Italian girl smiled as if she understood what I said. (She very well might speak a little English.)
- The little Italian girl smiled as though she understood what I said. (She didn't understand, but she was being sweet and polite.)

Writer or Author

  • Forenc
  • January 3, 2021, 3:00pm

These words are used according to the situation, but I have always had problems with this, because the grammar is quite difficult. That's why, to simplify this process a bit, I started using the AcademicHelp service, a review of which I read at It was very useful for me, because it was thanks to the review that I found professional and quality help.