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

My wife and I usually respond "the food is tasting very well". It goes right over the waiter's head.

“hate with passion”

As 'hate' is a transitive verb, I guess the word 'hate' would need an object. I have also never heard this phrase without the indefinite article.

I also say 'I hate [something] with a passion'

Fora vs Forums

  • aladanh
  • December 1, 2019, 11:34pm

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Fora vs Forums

  • aladanh
  • December 1, 2019, 11:34pm

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from among

I am a copy editor and quite often come across "pain in the English," which is removed with your help.

No Woman No Cry

  • laylos
  • November 26, 2019, 10:22pm

i started getting the idea that it could be that without a woman there is no cry of a child. No woman, no cry also could be said "No woman, no child".

Title vs. Entitle

  • Gotham
  • November 25, 2019, 1:24pm

My boss always uses "entitled" to refer to a paragraph heading instead of "titled" or "subtitled". A google search and other comments suggest that major dictionaries say both mean the same thing though one normally associates "entitled" with being privileged or having a right to something. I looked up American Heritage Dictionary and Damon is right, they mean the same thing. But most dictionaries define it as a person being entitled to something. The Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary defines it as "feeling that you have a right to the good things in life without necessarily having to work for them".

Thanks for sharing this information about Street Address vs. Mailing Address.

in that regard

For what it's worth: it's Bierce not Pierce (probably just a typo, that one time), but more importantly AMBROSE, not Anthony.

in that regard

For what it's worth: it's Bierce not Pierce (probably just a typo, that one time), but more importantly AMBROSE, not Anthony.