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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. You can browse through the latest questions and comments below. If you have a question of your own, please submit it here.

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Isn’t it redundant to say That is the REASON WHY I am here.

Isn’t the ‘reason’ the ‘why’ as well? But how come many people use it?

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I’m helping to rewrite my organisation’s style guide. I prefer (and we have always used) Collins but some other colleagues prefer the OED.

Does anyone have any strong views on their respective merits?

thanks, James

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There wasn’t a clause left in the sole agency contract that wasn’t a source of conflict.

The author of a book I am editing refuses to change the above sentence to: Every clause left in the sole agency contract was a source of conflict.

His reason is this is “a literary device to accentuate [my point]” . I think it is bad English to use the same word twice in one sentence. Am I being pedantic?

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I read this sentence and I felt kind of weird about it:

The suppliers imposed us to absorb price increase.

I won’t say that it’s wrong to use IMPOSE in that sentence, neither that ABSORB cannot be used like that, but wouldn’t it sound better, and maybe even clearer to use one of the following alternatives? 1. The suppliers forced us to accept price increase. 2. The suppliers made us accept price increase. 3. The suppliers left us no choice but to accept price increase. 4. The suppliers left us no choice but to deal with price increase. 5. The suppliers imposed price increase on us and we were forced to accept it. 6. The suppliers imposed price increase on us and we were forced to deal with it. 7. The suppliers imposed price increase on us and we could do nothing about it.

Any opinion appreciated...

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When CC: a person(s) in a business letter, is it necessary to fully type their business name after their name or is an abbreviation acceptable.

For example: CC; So-and-so FCCC or Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation

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I’ve read a number of books, and when an author uses a colon in a sentence to define something he wrote in simpler terms or to define in a more detailed manner, he capitalizes the next word. Such as, “The blue sky was beautiful: The sky resembled a cascading fall into the bountiful white clouds.” Should I also capitalize the T in “The”?

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Hi, I’m editing a brochure and know Internet is in caps, but is Web for Web site? and is Website one or two words? I’ve seen it both ways.

The brochure is speaking about a specific government website, but says “the county web site”.

Thanks, Freezing on the Hill

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1)”They were all trying to figure out which theoretical trend would be fashionable by the time they would attend postgraduate school, and scheming career plans.”

Is the tenses coordination ok? and the words appropriate?

2) “Most sold out in time and made a career of denouncing what they had worshipped.”

Does “sold out” sound very weird? Is there a better idiom to describe with contempt the way leftists-turned-capitalist-champions betrayed the ideals of their youth?

And, am I intruding here?

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When fine artists say their work is “multi-disciplinary”, what would a discipline mean in this context?

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Latest Comments

eat vs. have breakfast

  • Rukfas
  • October 17, 2017, 5:16pm

I have another question, but related to this: is the word breakfast a verb? That is, can we say 'I breakfasted eggs this morning.'? Or for that matter, can we say '- What are you doing? -I'm breakfasting,' instead of 'I'm having a breakfast.'? Thanks

Complete Sentence

Is asking "John Smith?" a full sentence?

agree the terms

Finebetty's research seems to settle the question. But as an American user of the language I will not be saying "agree the terms" anytime soon.

The reason the verb "to be" is an exception is that its meaning makes it equivalent to an equal sign. "It is I." means: It = I.

Both "It" and "I" are co-equal subjects of the sentence. There is no object. The subject of a sentence, in this case both subjects, require the nominative case.

Contrast this with the sentence : "It hit me." The subject "it" acts upon the object "me," so the objective case is required.

Another example of the exception with the verb "to be", which may be surprising, is: "It was we." This is the correct usage for the same reason, however in common usage, most people say, "It was us," which is technically incorrect.

agree the terms

'Agree' can be used intransitively and transitively. According to Merriam Webster, your example is "chiefly British" - which I guess means it does come up but is rare in the US whereas it is standard in British English (and not "bad form" at all, please note that 'agree to the terms' changes the meaning, 'agree on or upon' is the only option here).
Oxford dict:
2.1 with object Reach agreement about (something) after negotiation.
‘if they had agreed a price the deal would have gone through’
no object ‘the commission agreed on a proposal to limit imports’
https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/agree

MW:
transitive verb
2. chiefly British: to settle on by common consent
e.g. … I agreed rental terms with him … —Eric Bennett
https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/agree

(the 'before' in your example does not belong to 'agreed' of course - i.e., it means 'must be agreed upon before...')

Worst Case or Worse Case

  • Eric F
  • October 11, 2017, 2:39pm

"worse-case" is a comparison between TWO degrees of tribulation. Which one of the TWO options is worse than the other?
"worst-case" implies that there are many degrees of tribulation, and it is the worst of many options.

For LaurenBC: I find it's useful to read previous comments before posting. For example, Warsaw Will on June 6, 2014, contributed a lengthy discussion of the idiom's history and defense which included the fact that it's been seen in British written texts as early as 1859.

So the phrase is not of recent origin and is now widely accepted. I think fewer folks are bothered by it than by, say, the use of multiple question marks (or exclamation points in declarative sentences) in online posts.

“went missing/gone missing”?

This expression (and its variations) drives me crazy. It’s right up there with “the reason being” instead of “the reason is” or, more simply, “because “!

The English language is getting slaughtered ????

Lego (the bricks) should be lego in both singular and plural, like fish or sheep.

Word in question: Conversate

douglas.bryant

In your rush to discredit 'conversate' you're grossly misusing 'dialectical':

dialectical | ˌdīəˈlektək(ə)l |
adjective
1 relating to the logical discussion of ideas and opinions: dialectical ingenuity.
2 concerned with or acting through opposing forces: a dialectical opposition between social convention and individual libertarianism.