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

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 : Style

Some authorities (such as IBM and Wikipedia) say that “big data” should not be capitalised, while others say it should be capitalised as “Big Data”.

Logically, it would be capitalised only if it were a proper noun, that is, if it identified a unique individual. For example, “the Internet” refers to the global internet, of which there is only one, so it is capitalised. Big data does not really seem to be like that. In any technical usage, it refers to the use of very large databases, and should therefore be a common noun.

In the popular imagination, however, all instances of big data coalesce into a monstrous global conspiratorial network of databases, called Big Data. It is akin to Deep State.

So, it seems to me that “big data” should be used in any sober context, and “Big Data” reserved for conspiracy theories untethered from objective reality.

But ... in a proofreading context I would have to correct “a Big Data-driven project” to “a big data-driven project”, which is ambiguous as it could mean either “a big project that is driven by data” or “a project that is driven by big data”. 

Any suggestions?

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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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Latest Comments

No Woman No Cry

I always thought it meant, ‘if he doesn’t have a woman, he won’t cry,’ as in, having his or a woman causes him pain and tears, not having one spares him the pain that comes to him in a relationship...

Pronunciation: aunt

  • Aly Cat
  • December 11, 2018, 2:31pm

I am from Jackson, Michigan (US) and pronounce it "awnt/ont/ahnt." I do as such because of the 'u' (aunt). In Ann Arbor, most pronounce it the same way but in Jackson, it is most pronounced "ant." I see both as acceptable. English is confusing and crazy, that's the point of this website. Both are correct, "awnt" tends to be more formal. Use whichever you want and understand that others can say it differently.

On Tomorrow

I’m originally from Southern California and moved to South Carolina in 1981. I’ve heard “on tomorrow”, “on yesterday”, and “I’m not for sure”, “on accident” and most recently “this yesterday” ???? These errors in grammar continue to vex. I wonder what Ann Landers would have suggested as a polite way of correcting people in a spirit of educating them.

Really happy or real happy

Ops...sorry, the first is an adjective, the second is an adverb* If we accept the first (real) as adverb too, it becomes a great confusion. Shall we let confused people continue confusing us, the learners? :)

Really happy or real happy

I cannot believe that I read all this. Real is real, really is really "really" : ) Over. As we know the first is an adverb, the second is an adjective! Why to confuse them and the learners? What do we achieve if we do it? Huh?

me vs. myself

@Warsaw Will - Me, not “we” was the intended correction for the object pronoun. Man, I wish there was an edit function here, or if there is, I wish I could find it. How embarrassing. - Maekong Mike

Pronunciation: aunt

  • JSBSF
  • December 5, 2018, 9:54pm

Texas, Florida, Illinois, California:

We pronounced it like aint growing up in Dallas, and got laughed at for sounding too country. Now I pronounce it ant, and refuse to pronounce it as awnt because that sounds pompous, like Madonna talking with that fake English accent - we know she's from Michigan.

Also, I pronounce the word either and neither as eee-ther / nee-ther, and not eye-ther / nye-ther because... same reason I'm not British. Words aren't always necessarily pronounced the way they are spelled. If you feel like they should be, then start pronouncing 'do' like 'so' and not like 'too', and by all means pronounce two like it's spelled. Pronounce laugh loff, and see how people laugh at you the way they did when I used to say "Aint Shirley".

Pronunciation: aunt

  • JSBSF
  • December 5, 2018, 9:45pm

Texas / Illinois / Califonia
It's prononced ant. Not ont. Similarly, either is pronounced eee-ther, and not eye-ther, unless you want to be like Madonna and pretend you have an English accent. Go ahead and pronounce the word laugh as loff and notice how you get loffed at.

me vs. myself

Warsaw will. We is a subject pronoun:
We love prunes.

Questions in Bulleted Lists

List bullets are appropriate. It is acceptable to remove the colon (:) and use the question mark at the end, or leave the colon and not use the question mark. If using the question mark, it acceptable to list the items themselves as sub-bullets. A question mark at the end of the list is inappropriate in this case.

The case where it is appropriate is when you create a list something like this:

When using flour, would you use:

(bullet) Bread,
(bullet) Cake, or
bullet) Cookies?