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

Tell About

As a native speaker and ESL teacher from California, I personally cringe every time I see “tell about” without an object, yet I keep seeing it written in our school texts.

Past tense of “text”

I have many different arguments about this there is only text-noun,texting-verb,and text-past tense. Also, after reading some of the comments there needs to be a "thumb down" option. For me its not even about their opinion , we all are entitled to one, it is wrong facts that they use to support them.

At the 2018 FIFA World Cup I can barely listen to a British anouncer using a collective noun as a plural but when an American announcer does it I just about explode!! America ARE going crazy!

anyone & any one

singers have poetic license

There may be a rule, but what is its purpose? What clarity is gained (or ambiguity avoided) by preferring "This is she" to "This is her"? The usage has degraded for a reason—because there was never really any meaning behind the distinction and it's never caused anyone a problem.

Pronunciation: aunt

Edward Michaels says there was a flip in the 70s/80s when black Americans began saying "ont". This certainly didn't happen in the Detroit area. I'm 70 years old and my family including aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents, and every child I grew up with and their parents all said "ont". If there was a flip here, it must have happened before I was born.

Pronunciation: aunt

I live in lower Michigan (grew up in Detroit). I've noticed that most of the white people here say "ant". I and most black people say "ont" or "ontee". I've also noticed that a few of the people from the deep south (or whose families are from the deep south), both black and white, say "aint".

You write The mark in question is an "accent",
Should not the comma (and period) in American style be enclosed within the unquote?

Guys, there is no more argument that you can advance that will make you right when you say “but in Latin” or “but in primary school.”

No.

In English there is no academy so there is no authority to determine right and wrong. Justify the usage you have learned, fine. Have a bad attitude, fine. You won’t win. People say she and her just like people write centre and center. The right criterion is convention, and it is indeeed standard in the US to say this is him or this is them or so forth. In Great Britain, some regional variants argue for the subject pronoun by appealing to archaic, foreign grammar. That’s fine too. If in Great Britain some people want to say this is she and if they want to argue from false premises that copula this therefore that, let them. They’ll not change the American convention, they’ll not standardize the usage. You can explain to them al say that English isn’t based on one grammar but on several, still won’t matter to them.