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

It shold have been me?

He was sat

  • Elaine
  • October 15, 2019, 5:44pm

This incorrect use of the past tense grates on me enormously! And it is exactly like an epidemic - it's everywhere!! And so many people (including teachers who I work with) don't seem to have any clue that it is wrong!! It does only seem to be for the verbs "to sit" and "to stand", however. But given that in primary schools in the UK, children need to pass a grammar test at the end of KS2, it is surely paramount that the teachers are speaking (and therefore teaching the children) correctly. Wouldn't it be a concern if we gave them the incorrect dates for Henry VIII's reign? The content needs to be accurate in what we as teachers deliver to children. I cannot imagine anyone ever saying "I was drank a lovely bottle of wine..." or "I was swam in the sea for an hour..." so why do people get it wrong for "sit" and "stand"? Beats me...and I'm despairing more and more as I hear it on the television and radio. What hope have these kids got????

“my bad”

I don't care about the grammar because it so irritates me so to hear it. It is such a ridiculous way of saying "I made a mistake"!
I, too, was interested as to where it came from. I can somewhat understand it in relation to sports and making a bad play, but I wish it would stay in sports where it belongs.

I note that in your example "four species of butterfly" is equivalent to "four lizard species". Lizards are of course know for their conciseness.

What I really hate is UPS and FedEx look at my 4 line address with both physical andmail addresses. They turn white and say we can’t take one with a PO Box. So off goesthe PO Box.

Then about 1/4 of the time, the package comes in the mail because their computer saysit is cheaper to have USPS deliver it.

The term is disambiguation

and so...

  • patty-c
  • September 27, 2019, 3:36am

Lol wish I could delete my posts. My self-contradictory and now incorrect post. Also my repetitive post. Oh well! So it goes!

and so...

  • patty-c
  • September 27, 2019, 3:29am

@Warsaw Will ... Just came across your article! Nice! Thank you

and so...

  • patty-c
  • September 27, 2019, 3:28am

@Of_Course
I don't think it's a conjuction at all !
"And so" has the conjunction "and" and then I would call "so" an adverb, it's like "therefore"
(in "I didn't like it, and so I left")
And so I don't even think it breaks the rules of grammar, not at all. (Though I just did; but I can tell the difference)
In your special case "and so it goes", that's a slightly different meaning but "so" is definitely an adverb there - it means "that way", or something close to "thus". In your "and so it goes", "and" isn't even connected to "so". So it goes. They changed my schedule again, and so it goes. I hate my new schedule, but so it goes. "And so it goes" can't possibly have anything wrong with it! (Sez I)