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 : Usage

Is it grammatically ok to use the adjective “respective” with a singular noun ?

Many dictionaries such as Longman define the term “respective” as follows.

used before a plural noun to refer to the different things that belong to each separate person or thing mentioned.

But, I often see “respective” used with a singular noun as follows (cited from an Internet site).

Each of the Division’s three regional offices - in Chicago, New York, and San Francisco - handles criminal matters arising in its respective area and serves as the Division’s liaison with U.S. attorneys, state attorneys general, and other regional law enforcement agencies.

I wonder if the above usage is now common, though it is gramatically incorrect.

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In our office we are advocates for our client and in representing what we do with a client we have times that we advocate for our clients. I am under the impression that you can advocate for your client to do something with them and several of my co workers disagree stating that you can only advocate for them to receive something with another provider or resource. Who is corrent? examples:

Can you correctly say:

“the care support provider provided advocacy in encouraging the client to participate in therapy” or the “Care manager advocated with the client to participate in therapy weekly.”

Can we advocate for a client to do something that they are recommended to do. Using advocated in the place of “encouraged”

office question responses appreciated.

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In some recent fiction books written by American authors, I have seen the word “acclimated” as in “...she took a day to become acclimated to her new area.”

Shouldn’t this word be “acclimatised” or is this a case of American’s using one word and New Zealanders using another, both for the same purpose?

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I’m reviewing a New Zealand scientific report which uses the word ‘equivalency’. This sounds to me like an Americanisation of the word ‘equivalence’, both being nouns but with the redundancy of an additional syllable in ‘equivalency’.

As we use British English (despite word processing software trying to force American English upon us) I’m inclined to use ‘equivalence’.  What do you think?

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It grates every time I hear a local radio traffic reporter say “there is an accident just prior to the Erindale Rd turn-off.” 

I believe I’m right in thinking the word ‘prior’ is more correctly used in a time context, meaning earlier than or sooner than. 


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In American Grammar specifically, there is a somewhat new trend of referring to a singular collective as a plural noun. For example, “The band are playing at the Hall tonight.” To which I want to reply “It are?” While the British and Canadians have never understood the concept of singular collectives such as large companies or the aforementioned musical groups known by a name such as Aerosmith or Saint Motel, but why is this becoming popular in America where singular collectives have been referred to, until recently, as a singular entity? It’s on the radio, it’s on TV commercials and even in print. Are singular collectives now plural?

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Hi everyone, I’ve got an interesting question from my student:

Trump’s “ask the gays” statement:

- what exactly is wrong with it grammatically?


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I would like to know if it is correct to use the adjective “key” predicatively. I was taught that this word is like the adjective “main,” which can only be used in the attributive position. I’ve seen sentences like “This is key to the success of the plan,” but I remember typing something similar and the word processor marked it immediately as wrong. I think both “key” and “main” are special, (irregular, if you want) adjectives (in fact, they have no comparative forms) and feel they should be treated accordingly. I’ve never seen something like “This book is main in our course.” We will normally say “This is the main book in our course.” Thank you for your help!

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Could somebody please explain the problem with “as such”? I understand the frustration with its incorrect usage as a synonym for “therefore” or “thus”, but the response thereagainst wants to banish its usage entirely. I am confident that I am using it correctly, but I am constantly being directed to remove it from my papers nevertheless. Could you explain its proper usage?

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I noticed in reports of the recent GOP debate a number of instances where the phrase “Person A debated Person B.” was used rather than “Person A debated with Person B.” Is this common in USA?

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Latest Comments

Pled versus pleaded

I agree that "pled guilty" makes more sense. I get a little irked every time I see that someone in the news "pleaded guilty". There are so many things we cannot control.

I’m still learning English and I was confused about this (I have vs I’ve got), but you all have different opinions. The questions is, can I use what I want? Are both correct?

English schools

Many language learners and tutors would recommend a combination of lessons and immersion if both are feasible for the learner. Technology today has paved the way for a wide range of language learning resources from mobile apps, videos, even audio resources. And now that everyone's mobility is restricted these days which limits the possibility of taking actual language classes, online language lessons, similar to, have become a convenient way to learn a new language. As with any type of learning, investing a significant amount of time and effort on taking the lessons and practicing them definitely helps in achieving an effective language learning experience.

Why so few diacritics in English?

  • dec
  • November 29, 2020, 4:21am

1. Native English apparently does have some few examples of use of diacritics eg Bronte (w the diaeresis) although i suggest it is possibly originally a 'foreign' name? But virtually every one in current use is a 'borrowed' word.

2. but! my firm belief is that English SHOULD use/deploy diacritics more often to indicate pronunciation when that is ambiguious, or, more especially, where there are two or more English words spelt the same but with a different pronunciation (and obviously meaning).

I only give one example, but it is a very clear and definitive example - 'close' and 'close'.

But i can find nowhere that advocates for this reasonable, logical, and helpful, idea.

Plural s-ending Possessives

I am purchasing a housewarming gift for my friends. Their surname is Ellis. So, should it be “the Ellises?”

Abbreviation of “number”

For a set of engineering/design plans and documents, the correct denotation would be "no.s"

He and I, me and him

I was taught "me and him" was crass and that uncultured people could be spotted by this slip.
It is evidence of finishing culture. I was shocked to hear Obama use this properly, "Michael and I..."
Color me impressed.

We, I, or my wife had a baby?

if your talking to someone say "we" but if your talking to the family say "my wife"

and so...

  • Big DW
  • November 24, 2020, 9:25am

My girfriend says "and so" all the time especially when she's trying to sound smart, and it drives me crazy. It doesn't mean anything just like, "it is what it is," or "at the end of the day," or "that being said," or "if you will," and so ...

Actress instead of Actor

  • Pat99
  • November 24, 2020, 8:31am

I don't understand the commenters going so far as to say calling females ACTORs sounds "Orwellian", "ridiculous", or "distasteful". Or viewing the term ACTRESS for females as "empowering" or preferable.

What about many other terms in that same industry like director, producer, movie star, celebrity, entertainer, performer, talk show host, etc.?

What about the vast majority of professions in English? Some common ones:
- athlete
- coach
- musician / singer
- artist
- novelist / author / writer / blogger
- executive
- president
- politician
- lawyer
- doctor
- nurse
- therapist
- surgeon
- teacher
- architect
- designer
- engineer
- scientist
- researcher
- journalist
- reporter
- driver
- cashier
- bank teller
- secretary
- chef

None of these job / role nouns are inherently male or female, even though one sex may command the majority share of positions (historically or to this day).

@Diva4Jesus even wrote "I, however, like the fact that ladies and gentlemen are inherently different, and for me, vive la difference"

For professions where sex doesn't matter, how could you legally hire employees without discriminating against a particular sex, if you had female terms like "driveress" or "engineeress" for example? Sure ladies and gentlemen are different, but the job or role is not. At least according to women and many others who have been fighting for equality. Just like both sexes can perform the role of "parent" or "caregiver", even though a male cannot be a "mother".

Adding new classifications for roles based on sex would be counterproductive and provide no value. In an increasingly complex world where an individual can choose their gender and pronouns, yet ask or legally require others to respect that decision, it would be complete chaos. If you really want to differentiate, a mechanism already exists - you can say "female actor" or "male nurse".