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 a 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 a 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

I am working on a documentary film and have hit upon a conundrum that we hope one of the fabulous Pain in the English grammarians can solve. We are using the full capital case (”all caps”) to identify our experts, in a text box that pops up below them during their appearances on screen; for example: JOHN SMITH, HISTORIAN. One of our experts has a name that includes a superscript letter (e.g.: JANE MCDONALD) and another has the abbreviation Jr. after his name (e.g.: WILLIAM DOE, JR.). 

Question: Should those superscripted and abbreviated letters stay in all caps, too? Or should they be treated differently, either lower case or small caps? (e.g.: JANE McDONALD / WILLIAM DOE, Jr.) I’ve searched the Chicago Manual of Style and the Government Printing Office’s online manual, and have found no guidance in either.

Thank you for your help!

Susan

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There is a town called “Two Egg” in Florida USA. My question is; why the egg is not plural there. Also there is something like “Two egg cake”.

Can someone explain it? Actually i am planning to establish a shop. Which one would suit better “two egg” or “two eggs”

Thank you?

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I’ve developed a “tic” for adding - I believe the expression is “postpositively” “is what I’m saying” at the end of a sentence. In usage, it is an intensifier. So I might say “I’ve been noticing that I use this expression a lot, is what I’m saying!”  Typically after some prior exposition on the topic - this becomes the concluding thought. 

Two questions - has anyone else heard anyone else say this? Where does it come from? Where did I pick it up? I’m in the Northeastern US.  Is the expression or any variant from this region?  

It’s awfully similar to “I’m just saying” but my understanding of “I’m just saying” is that it’s somewhat negative - connoting an undercurrent of a wink and a nod.  “...is what I’m saying” doesn’t have that connotation, is what I’m saying. LOL! 

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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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“Can I get…” is not perceived as rude in North America; merely uneducated. Language does drift, but it is worthwhile to fight against drift when it tends to denigrate meaning. As others have pointed out, “Can I get….” is, properly understood, an inquiry about the questioner’s physical ability to go obtain the thing himself. Unless the thing itself doesn’t exist, the proper response to a “Can I get…” question is, “You would know better than I whether you can or not.”

For about twenty years, I've been noticing that what used to be mainly children's errors, like these, have been entering the mainstream of adult speech. To say "I haven't ate yet" or "Grandma got ran over by a reindeer", were once limited to preschoolers, but now I hear this kind of thing all. the. time. I don't mean, by the way, speakers of distinct dialects, or ESL speakers. I refer to native speakers of General American, frequently with college degrees as well.

Are other languages experiencing this kind of breakdown, where nothing is considered wrong anymore?

Computer mouses or computer mice?

Mouses is my preference for the Binary Rodents. Just because the majority would use "mice" does not make it correct. The majority can not spell, nor construct a sentence, and use the word "like" in place of a comma. Does bad spelling and bad grammar negate spelling and grammatical rules? May it never be. I vote for mouses. One exception is where you are hitting mouses with a hammer, then "beating the meeses to peesus" is more than acceptable, as it conforms to the Mr Jinks Rhyming Cartoon Rules. B-)

“she” vs “her”

I have a friend who only uses "she", declension be damned. To hear her speak is the equivalent of bumping ones head on a low hanging branch, but one that you know is there. Example. Sheila " Martha has gone to university and is doing well." Friendwhoshallnotbenamed " I had heard that of she." Sheila, "Her mother told me." FWSNBN: " Carol is always encouraging to she." I've tried to explain it but she is absolutely convinced that speaking of someone you know as her, is ill mannered.

Same difference

There is no math way of having the same difference because you have to use two totally different equations to equal the same number therefore they are not the same only equal

Same difference

I totally agree nothing is the same difference

Where are the commas?

Add or remove commas, if necessary, until the sentence has correct punctuation.
Mr.
Crocker
can
juggle
oranges
and
bananas
at
the
same
time.

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Past perfect with until

helo

East Virginia, in the United States, and Toronto, Canada say “out” and “about” the same way…

I have friends from both places…

therefore, thus as conjunctions

Whereas -and- is a coordinating conjunction, -thus- is a subordinating conjunction. And it all depends upon the sense that one thinks, and it is a subjective word here.