Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
Proofreading Service - Pain in the English

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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

I agree, I have found "all but" to be all but intuitive.

Use of “Massive”

This word, more than any other I hear on the daily news dribble, irritates me. Whenever an NPR host talks of a "massive (anything)" I begin feeling nausea. If the host says it twice, I must change the station. It's not the liberal bias, or the doubly earnest tone used, or the intolerable begging for money that gets me to shut it off. It's the over use of "massive".

While I'm at it, where the heck do I put the question mark? Should it be like this: "...good luck!"?. But wait. I need another question mark:
Should it be like this: "...good luck!"??

Ha! Punctuation is funny!

Shouldn't it be, "OK, genius - good luck!" Or, "OK, genius. Good luck!"

Sorry, I couldn't resist. I do value your website greatly! Am I right about the comma after OK?

This phrase is on the top of my list of words & phrases that have infested the English language like a cancer (right up there with the quotative 'like').

Fora vs Forums

indeed, but is not the real heart of the question's crossroad whether the proper Latin or modern Anglo-modified (ie) use is effective or simply correct? just considering the question to understand answers was my thought.

Sweet and Savory

I was going to describe my sweet and spicy chili as "savory," until searching and finding that "savory" means spicy and salty, but not sweet. So what better adjective to describe my rich and tasty chili that contains tomato paste, and about 1/4 cups chili powder, beef bouillon powder and brown sugar?

I was told by my English teacher that the phrase is officially "Vernacular spelling"
To spell something incorrectly on purpose, to represent a character's education (or lack thereof)

I see it a lot in politics as candidates come from different backgrounds even from IN the States. Pres Trump coming off as very awkward comes to mind, but even the context he speaks in comes from an old way of talking I used to hear a lot of in the 90's.

@whitneygallienNO
Please spell check and fix the grammatical errors in your answer. Thank you
Technically, since "mouse" is an acronym for "manually-operated user-select equipemtn," it sound probably be pluralized as "mouses."