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

The ubuquitous "reach out" has become annoying to the max. Why can't one use the appropriate term for an action: call, contact, distribute, request, write, direct, ask, tell ..... Oh, wait, that would involve wasting a few seconds in reviewing and selectng the proper word!

"She would want you to become a doctor if she were alive today".

No Woman No Cry

  • gdt
  • June 13, 2019, 5:25pm

It's a song of romantic and kindred love about a man reminiscing about the time he left his home, his close friends and his girlfriend to find work elsewhere. He reflects about his close friendships, despite their poverty (he lives in a poor ghetto, namely the "government yards in Trenchtown"). His imminent departure makes his girlfriend cry; and the man comforts her ("little sister don't shed no tear; no woman, no cry" meaning "please don't cry").

The song is from Bob Marley's real life. He assigned the lyrics copyright to his friend so that he could continue to "cook corn meal porridge" for the poor residents.

The song has a political implication, due to its frankness about poverty and its celebration of people's strength in that situation. That's the point of comparing "hypocrits" to the "good people".

The meaning of the repetition of "no woman, no cry" isn't apparent from reading the lyrics. If you listen to the song you'll hear it start as a request (as in "please don't cry") and end as a statement of women's strength (as in "you are so strong you never cry"). Note that the woman is the strong person here: she is being left behind in the ghetto, presumably to keep their home whilst he sends her his earnings.

The multilayered meanings, the subtle messages despite the simple lyrics, the subtle but simple-sounding playing -- all are reasons why this song is still so loved, despite being over 40 years old.

Whenever someone says they will reach out to me, I respond by saying: "I wish I had an arm that long."

It is you who are/is ...

  • Gary44
  • June 7, 2019, 10:58am

Clearly, it should be "Who are 20 years old," since they are twins, therefore, plural.

Sean Hannity on fox has this defect (among many others)

Persian/Farsi

Hi,
'Farsi' is the Arabic word for "Persian'. There is no 'P' letter in Arabic, but the 'P' in Persian looks exactly like the 'F' in Arabic. This is why Arabic speakers call 'Persian' 'Farsi'. 'Farsi' is not correct in English nor in Persian. It is not how locals call the language (unless, of course, they happen to be speaking Arabic).

couple vs couple of

No, omitting the "of" isn't a sign of illiteracy, though it can be sloppy writing: it's common in certain regions, such as the New York City area, and it's something I had to learn not to do in my professional writing.

I live in a rural area and I'm completely off the grid, and tax office is telling me I HAVE to register a 911 address, for one 911 does not work at my house, even if it did they do not maintain my rd and no ambulance or fire truck will not and cannot make it down it any way if it rains. So why are they trying to force me to pay for a 911 address ?!!! I already have a po box.. and doesnt 911 go by location of my cell fone anyway? Which by the way cell service is nil yo none also.

I can't believe that you wrote: "...it's meaning." I think it is you who needs the proofreader or at least "another think coming."