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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. You can browse through the latest questions and comments below. If you have a question of your own, please submit it here.

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Latest Posts

I need to give a range of percentages. Do I say “somewhere between 40 and 50%?” or “somewhere between 40% and 50%”? Does the percentage sign get assigned to the first value, even though it’s not verbally articulated?

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Is it alright to omit the word “I” in some cases. If I have already been writing about myself and I slip in a sentence that says for example, “Will be in town next week.” Is this acceptable or should I write “I” at the beginning of each sentence?

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The New York Yankees

The Utah Jazz

The Orlando Magic

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A) Must we have fish for dinner again?

B) Shall we have to have fish for dinner again?

C) Will we have to have fish for dinner again?

D) Do we have to have fish for dinner again?

Accepting that (D) is by far the commonest utterance and would express annoyance or lament. roughly the same as “I wish we weren’t having fish again”, my concern is with the other options, particularly (B) which looks “grammatical” but just sounds odd to me. (A) is less common today but seems to go back a long way whereas “have to” is relatively modern, so which sound “normal” to you?

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How do you handle a quote within a quote within a quote in an MLA citation?

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“She said she...” or “She said that she...”

All my life I have received great feedback about my grammar, but these past few years I find myself over thinking it—all the time. It actually causes me to create mistakes where there previously weren’t any. Bizarre? 

One such thing that I have thought too much about is the necessity of “that” in phrases like the above. When would you say it’s necessary? Always? Never? Sometimes? Explain! Thanks!

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Are adverbs something to be avoided like the plague or an inevitable mutation of the English language that we just have to deal with? I’ve heard it said that they’re the mark of a writer who lacks the vocabulary to use powerful words (for example, “He walked slowly” does not carry the weight of “He plodded” or “He trudged”) and the skill to vary their sentence structure. I’ve seen them used in published in professional work, from George R. R. Martin to J.K. Rowling, so it’s not something authors shy away from and, for the most part, the public accepts it without question.

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What is a correct... “A gift of John Doe” or “A gift from John Doe” when referring to a large charitable donation? I like the sound of “of” but not sure which one is right.

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What would be the preferred form of each of these:- 

a) “in hopes of” or “in the hope of” 

b) “a change in plans” or “a change of plan”

c) “apprise” or “inform” 

d) “envision” or “envisage”

I favour the second of each of the above, but no doubt there will be different opinions.

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Why is the term “attorneys general” correct? It used to be “attorney generals” ... There are multiple attorney generals.

If I was describing a group of Army generals, I wouldn’t say “Armies General” ... would I?

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Latest Comments

Actress instead of Actor

  • jsall
  • December 11, 2017, 10:12pm

I always saw it as a "Title" as opposed to a "Label", but even so, some things are gender speicific, ("Mom" or "Dad") while some are meant to be gender descriptive, ("His" or "Hers").

Pled versus pleaded

  • Mary G
  • December 8, 2017, 4:11pm

So, should we expect "he bled to death" to become "he bleeded to death"?

Thanks! I didn't think to look there.

Possessive with acronyms ending in S

  • jayles
  • December 4, 2017, 12:52am

@riley
"requires" and "is" are more common than "require" and "are" in published books.

http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=GA...

“Anglish”

This looks very much like Cowley's work who wrote 'How we'd talk if the English won in 1066' . I think he's an excellent linguist with cutting edge ideas on the make and mode of English as it stands and would have been. I do, however, believe that 'ednew' became the modern 'anew' thus, it should be Anew/ Anewed English.

Computer mouses or computer mice?

  • colin1
  • December 2, 2017, 12:50pm

Fowler's Modern English Usage 3rd Ed (2004) doesn't recognise "mouse" as an acronym but as a term within a new layer of words with new meanings, called "computerese". Fowler's adopts a wait and see approach.

Computer mouses or computer mice?

  • colin1
  • December 2, 2017, 12:29pm

The Economist Style Guide says, with regard to plurals in general, "No rules here. The spelling ... may be decided by either practice or derivation."

Computer mouses or computer mice?

  • colin1
  • December 2, 2017, 12:08pm

The Oxford Dictionary of English 3rd Ed (2010) entry for mouse reads as follows: "2 (pl. mice or mouses) a small handheld device which is moved across a mat or flat surface to move the cursor on a computer screen". The world's most trusted dictionary of English accepts both mice and mouses as correct.

“Anglish”

Hello,

Does anyone know anything about this site:

http://ednewenglish.tripod.com/index.htm

The first sentence describing it says:

"Ednew English is dedicated to an awareness and restoration primarly of native English words."

There are lists of prefixes, suffixes, verbs, and so on; but there is no information about who the author is.

There are lots of interesting words there, but I wonder if they are actually words. For example, is "Ednew" actually a word?

Thanks,

I heard today for the first time ever that it is supposed to be said "you've got another *think* coming." I always understood it as meaning, If you think this way, a negative consequence "some thing" is on its way to straighten you out. Not the thinking itself which will be redone, but the consequences of that way of thinking. I still prefer "thing", since this is what I mean when I say it. In fact, after that consequence comes I/they might rethink my/their initial position. Or it might be that the consequence is the end of it and they never change their opinion, just get that lovely bad thing as a result. Besides, "another think coming" implies that a think is a thing, when think is a verb. In no other ways do I use think as a noun. A think is coming. Incorrect. A thought is coming. Correct. To fight over this "grammar rule" when it is breaking grammar rules to even say it is silly. If anything, it would need to be..."If you think...you've got another thought coming." Just my two cents.