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

Pled versus pleaded

I agree that "pled guilty" makes more sense. I get a little irked every time I see that someone in the news "pleaded guilty". There are so many things we cannot control.

I’m still learning English and I was confused about this (I have vs I’ve got), but you all have different opinions. The questions is, can I use what I want? Are both correct?

English schools

Many language learners and tutors would recommend a combination of lessons and immersion if both are feasible for the learner. Technology today has paved the way for a wide range of language learning resources from mobile apps, videos, even audio resources. And now that everyone's mobility is restricted these days which limits the possibility of taking actual language classes, online language lessons, similar to Justlearn.com, have become a convenient way to learn a new language. As with any type of learning, investing a significant amount of time and effort on taking the lessons and practicing them definitely helps in achieving an effective language learning experience.

Why so few diacritics in English?

  • dec
  • November 29, 2020, 4:21am

1. Native English apparently does have some few examples of use of diacritics eg Bronte (w the diaeresis) although i suggest it is possibly originally a 'foreign' name? But virtually every one in current use is a 'borrowed' word.

2. but! my firm belief is that English SHOULD use/deploy diacritics more often to indicate pronunciation when that is ambiguious, or, more especially, where there are two or more English words spelt the same but with a different pronunciation (and obviously meaning).

I only give one example, but it is a very clear and definitive example - 'close' and 'close'.

But i can find nowhere that advocates for this reasonable, logical, and helpful, idea.

Plural s-ending Possessives

I am purchasing a housewarming gift for my friends. Their surname is Ellis. So, should it be “the Ellises?”

Abbreviation of “number”

For a set of engineering/design plans and documents, the correct denotation would be "no.s"

He and I, me and him

I was taught "me and him" was crass and that uncultured people could be spotted by this slip.
It is evidence of finishing culture. I was shocked to hear Obama use this properly, "Michael and I..."
Color me impressed.

We, I, or my wife had a baby?

if your talking to someone say "we" but if your talking to the family say "my wife"

and so...

  • Big DW
  • November 24, 2020, 9:25am

My girfriend says "and so" all the time especially when she's trying to sound smart, and it drives me crazy. It doesn't mean anything just like, "it is what it is," or "at the end of the day," or "that being said," or "if you will," and so ...

Actress instead of Actor

  • Pat99
  • November 24, 2020, 8:31am

I don't understand the commenters going so far as to say calling females ACTORs sounds "Orwellian", "ridiculous", or "distasteful". Or viewing the term ACTRESS for females as "empowering" or preferable.

What about many other terms in that same industry like director, producer, movie star, celebrity, entertainer, performer, talk show host, etc.?

What about the vast majority of professions in English? Some common ones:
- athlete
- coach
- musician / singer
- artist
- novelist / author / writer / blogger
- executive
- president
- politician
- lawyer
- doctor
- nurse
- therapist
- surgeon
- teacher
- architect
- designer
- engineer
- scientist
- researcher
- journalist
- reporter
- driver
- cashier
- bank teller
- secretary
- chef

None of these job / role nouns are inherently male or female, even though one sex may command the majority share of positions (historically or to this day).

@Diva4Jesus even wrote "I, however, like the fact that ladies and gentlemen are inherently different, and for me, vive la difference"

For professions where sex doesn't matter, how could you legally hire employees without discriminating against a particular sex, if you had female terms like "driveress" or "engineeress" for example? Sure ladies and gentlemen are different, but the job or role is not. At least according to women and many others who have been fighting for equality. Just like both sexes can perform the role of "parent" or "caregiver", even though a male cannot be a "mother".

Adding new classifications for roles based on sex would be counterproductive and provide no value. In an increasingly complex world where an individual can choose their gender and pronouns, yet ask or legally require others to respect that decision, it would be complete chaos. If you really want to differentiate, a mechanism already exists - you can say "female actor" or "male nurse".