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.

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

Excess vs. Excessive

My understanding is that excess means extra and unwanted and on the other hand excessive means too much or more than is necessary. Because excessive also means too much, I would say that has more of a negative ring to it than excess.

Plural s-ending Possessives

  • Apoole
  • November 12, 2019, 6:02pm

I want to order a gift for 2 families: The Schultz & The Fox family. How do I correctly put each name....would it be The Foxes or The Foxs and how do you spell The Schultz - would it have an s at the end?

It really should have it's own name. I believe the concept you are talking about is often called Satiric Misspelling ("so phuny") or Sensational Spelling for when it's more for impact (think Beetles as opposed to Beatles).

Computer mouses or computer mice?

Il problema nasce nel momento in cui devo comprarne due, uno per Francesco e uno per Rita, essendo ovvio che ogni pc ne ha uno!

“she” vs “her”

As many others have so aptly noted, the Administrator in your anecdote was correct. The point about subject vs. object has been so concisely explained that I won’t repeat it.

Try to think about it this way. “Her” is always possessive: her degree, her resume, her partner, her job, her kids. It explains or modifies the noun that follows. If you think about it that way, you can understand how illogical it is to say “her went with me on vacation.” Or “her & I” drove to the hospital. (Yet, it would be perfectly fine, however, to say “her sister & I went on vacation” since her is paired with a noun. In that instance, her is used as the possessive that makes sense of, or modifies the noun “sister.”

I hope that helps.

“I’ve got” vs. “I have”

Thank you!

"May you please..." literally equals "Might you allow yourself to..."

"This is she" is the only correct answer. "Is" is a linking verb (to be form), and linking verbs are equivalent to "equal(s)". Thus This and she are equals, i.e., this=she. The answerer is saying "This is I". After the linking verbs "to be" is a predicate nominative - nominative form, not objective in this case.

10 Head of Cattle

It is a form of measurement, a head is unit in a herd.
If you had 2 herds of cattle one bigger than the other, the count would be in head.

He was sat

  • Tbyfg
  • November 7, 2019, 9:42am

As an English teacher (from the South of the UK), I have a "Standard" accent, yet I realise I use features of non-Standard English. For example, today a (linguist) friend noticed I said, "is anyone sat here?" Instead of "is anyone sitting here?" In my opinion, it is more important to be authentic but also to notice that there is variation in language around the "Standard". It's good to draw our students' attention to this variation. Yes they should learn standard forms and the "proper" structures. But they should also recognise and be introduced to regional variation - how will their "Standard English" knowledge help them in real life situations? They will be lost in northern England, or Scotland, for example. Students are not stupid. You can point out these features to them, or they can notice when you use "non-standard" features, and you can have a discussion about it. I automatically say "yeah" and colloquial language in the classroom. It is authentic and the kind of language they'll be exposed to when they watch TV or when they talk to native speakers. It is therefore important to use and teach these forms. At the same time, we can point out the register and when it is appropriate to use them. You can simply tell them not to use yeah or hiya in formal writing. End of story.