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

Conjunction is a word which connects 2 words/clause/sentences and shows the relations between them. So, according to the above definition, the word 'while' is more likely to fall under the category conjunctions. Example: I can’t talk to you while I am studying.

Texted

Plain and simple grammar 101: the word texted is 1 SYLLABLE and always has been. The two syllable "text-ed sounds wrong, makes people, even intelligent ones sound Ignorant. I can't stand it anymore.

When used in that way, it is being used wrongly, and has somehow become common in the US.
Just as when they say "I could care less" but mean the opposite. It's not that the phrase is strange, it's the diction of the speaker that is strange. In countries that are not the US, people say "I couldn’t care less" and mean it to be understood the way it was spoken.

About "Respective"

  • dec
  • March 29, 2020, 12:13pm

the 'respective' is redundant in 'its respective area'.

i would add a comma after 'area'; but i am not sure about 'serves' or 'serve'. hmm, i guess 'serves' to match the tense of 'handles' (but could be 'handle' and 'serve').

“she” vs “her”

  • Little
  • March 21, 2020, 2:53pm

Which is correct? If I were a child I’d want her as a mother or If I were a child I’d want her for a mother?

“she” vs “her”

  • Little
  • March 21, 2020, 2:51pm

Which is correct, I wanted to send her and her dad on vacation or I wanted to send she and her dad on vacation

Also, too (an affectation I've adopted for the specific purpose of keeping the Sarah Palin fiasco fresh in people's minds: The mapping linked in the post immediately previous to mine doesn't show any regionalism to my marginally practiced eye. The ratios appear evenly distributed across population centers in the continental US, with the correct form still dominating for the present. (Thank whatever powers there are for small favors.)

Recent conversations on the subject dominated by Pacific Northwesterners and myself (New England born and raised and a hardcore "by accident" purist) revealed an interesting wrinkle: there are actually adults who use both, preferring to apply "on accident" to themselves and "by accident" to others. Further probing was rewarded only with the vaguest sense of a difference, but imputing intent does seem to be in play, i.e., one knows one's own intent and says "on accident" contrary to "on purpose," but with others one can only make the assumption that it was "by accident" based on reaction rather than intent. (Personally, I don't buy it, but my prescriptive criticism isn't going to make much headway with adults set in their linguistic ways.)

I like to simplify a sentence in order to figure it out. Let's do away with grandmother. If I am talking to my 5 year old daughter, I might say "I want you to become a doctor." However, if my daughter is 50 years old and a struggling attorney, I might say "I would have wanted you to become a doctor if it had been my decision."