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

obstinacy vs. obstinancy

  • Mord
  • April 25, 2019, 12:35am

An obstinacy of Buffalo.. Obstinacy is the same as Gang or herd..

obstinacy vs. obstinancy

  • Mord
  • April 25, 2019, 12:34am

Obstinacy is a word. One use of this word is to describe a group of Buffalo.. An Obstinacy of Buffalo..

This has irritated me for years and it is getting worse. I've also heard the misuse in movies from the 40s. It seems to be a flaw in our education system.

Above I read "the speaker is not currently at". That also irritates me.

No Woman No Cry

The lyrics say:
No, woman, no cry;
No, woman, no cry.
'Ere, little darlin', don't shed no tears:
No, woman, no cry.

So it means No, Woman, don't cry

Pled versus pleaded

"Pleaded" sounds Juvenile, Inane, Asinine, and just plain STUPID.
One doesn't say they "Bleeded" when they cut themselves.

As far as I remember, this phrase comes from an American TV ad in the 70s promoting contacting loved ones via a phone call. It used the song 'Reach out and touch somebody's hand' as its theme and "reaching out" was its catchphrase.

I am so glad that this obnoxious phrase is annoying to other people besides myself. I think it's creepy and I have started telling businesses that use it that I do NOT wish to be reached out to, and that if they can't simply contact me then I will take my business elsewhere.

Pronunciation: aunt

If you call an Aunt an Ant do you call your mother a "Moth"er? If you call an Aunt an Ant do you pronounce Australia like Aestralia? I fear that the mispronunciation of Aunt comes from the inability of current people's ancestors to read. So very much like the current trend of troglodytes to use double negatives to add emphasis to their statements I am inclined to think that people mispronouncing Aunt as Ant is simply a matter of ignorance of how written English should be pronounced.

Past tense of “text”

After reading many (although not all) of these comments, I have observed that those who prefer "text" as a past tense verb tend to have more grammatical errors of other kinds in their posts than those who prefer "texted," giving them less credibility as qualified judges of what should be considered grammatically correct. I vote for texted.

Thank you for publishing this comment page. It was sooooo
comforting to learn that I am not the only one who has become
thoroughly disgusted with the increasing over-use, not to mention
incorrect use of this phrase. A typical example was a call I received yesterday from the receptionist in a dental office who said "Nancy asked me to reach out to you to ask if they could change an appointment time." Why didn't she simply ask if it
would be possible to change the time?