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 : Misc

I thought you could put /s/ on a copy of a signed letter to indicate the original had been signed. Right or wrong?

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Can anyone tell me why the second ‘a’ in Canada and Canadian is pronounced differently? 

I’m English/British and I and from England/Britain.

Surely it should either be Can-a-da & Can-a-dian or Can-ay-da & Can-ay-dian...

My guess is it has something to do with the French influence, but I would love to know for sure.

Here in the UK our language has been heavily influenced over the years, including by the French and it has always interested where these things start or change.

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I was in empty space in an elevator one day when it occurred to me that it’s actually “pains-taking”, the taking of pains to do something thoroughly. I’d never thought about it before.

But it’s too hard to pronounce “painz-taking”, because the “z” sound must be voiced; whereas the unvoiced “s” combines easily with the “t” to make “-staking”, so that’s what we say. That’s my theory, but BrE might be different. Is it?

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Why does the Western media have so many different spellings for some Arabic terms?

eg:

1. hezbollah hesbollah hizbullah hizbollah hisbollah

2. ayatollah ayatullah

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I’m having a custom item made to indicate when our home was established.  The year will be the year my husband and I were married and started our family.  My issue is I’m not sure how our name should appear.  Here is the text.

The (LAST NAME)

Est. 2008

Our last name is Myers.  Please help!  I’m not sure if it should be possessive (ownership of the home/family) or plural (for the people).

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At the clinic I was directed to the “subwait area” and left to ponder my fate. I did wonder whether this should be sub-wait and how fully portable “sub” has become as a preposition and/or prefix, when attached to a Germanic-rooted word. What other words are there where “sub” is used as an English word, apart from phrases like “sub judice” and “sub” as a short form of “substitute” eg in sport “he was subbed off”?

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Can you please comment on a trend that I have noticed recently. More and more people seem to be pronouncing words that contain the letters “str” as if they were written “shtr”. Strong sounds like shtrong, strange sounds like shtrange, and so on. I have noticed even my favorite NPR journalists mispronouncing these words. I first noticed this pronunciation in one of Michelle Obama’s early speeches. I’d appreciate any insight that you might have.

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I have always believed, probably in common with most Scots, that the pronunciation of “gill” varies depending on whether one is referring to the organ of respiration in fishes and other water-breathing animals ( /ɡɪl/ ), or a measure of liquid (/dʒɪl/ ), or even one of the many other variations of the word. I was therefore somewhat surprised recently when watching an episode of QI to hear the erstwhile Stephen Fry and his guests use /ɡɪl/ for both the fishy organ and the liquid measure..

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Does anyone know if there are rules governing the pronunciation of “a”? It’s either “AYE” or “UH”, depending on the word following. My preference is dictated by how it sounds and how it flows off the tongue, but I have never been able to establish if actual rules exist.

Americans and Australians tend to use “AYE” all the time and sometime it just sounds ridiculous, like...”Aye man driving aye car stopped at aye traffic light”

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What diacritic would I use over the word YANA to accent the first a as an “ah” (short o) sound. It is pronounced Yahna. Thanks!

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Idea Vs. Ideal

  • Judy00
  • October 24, 2021, 10:45am

If you know what they mean, get over it. We’ve all butchered the English language before. I have a great idea, stop acting like you’re so perfect. I ain’t got time for this. Lol

Idea Vs. Ideal

  • Judy00
  • October 24, 2021, 10:42am

If you know what they mean, get over it. We’ve all butchered the English language before. I have a great idea, stop acting like you’re so perfect!

“ton” in the Victorian era

I'm discovering that this may be the origin of 'panettone', from the Milanese dialect term 'pan del ton', in which 'ton' would mean the same as described here. (Christmas was the only time of year when the poor were allowed to eat the same bread as the rich.)

Hello, Math tutor here. I grew up in the British system of education however I now live in the U.S. and tutor Math at an Elementary School. I was horrified when I saw a teacher labeling the shorter side of a rectangle as the length and the longer side as the width. I learned exactly what the Oxford Dictionary states: width is the lesser of 2 sides. When I pointed it out to the teacher he proceeded to argue with me and tell me I was wrong so I guess you’re right. It’s an American vs. British issue.

Reading through this conversation 9 years in the future is absolutely hilarious! Sadly, the English language cares little for the opinions of a handful of pedants and continues to evolve with utter disregard of those who try to stop it. 'Their', 'they' and 'them' are now in common usage when referring to a singular person of unknown gender, while the default 'his', 'he', 'him' has pretty much died a death. Poor D.A.W.

“Let his/him come in.”

In grammar, a sentence is the basic grammatical unit. It contains a group of words and expresses a complete thought. A sentence consists of a subject and a predicate. For example in the sentence "Bill writes good poems" Bill is the subject of the sentence and writes good poems is the predicate.

I hesitate to offer an opinion on this because I'm a white native English speaker, but my wife is from Japan and I've been studying Japanese for long time so I feel I have at least a little perspective outside the one I was born with.

First, if were true that Asian accents are definitively harder to understand than European accents all else being equal, I'd just have to put it down to racism, though not necessarily the malicious kind, more the ignorant kind.

But I'm not willing to accept that as true, at least not as a rule. For one thing, while Japanese and Korean have a lot of linguistic similarities, Mandarin Chinese is extremely different in syntax, phonemes, and pretty much everything else besides Chinese characters, which don't matter in speech. And then there are many other Asian languages which have their own unique points, so it's unfair to lump them all together as though Asian accents all sounded the same.

The one thing I would say is that in general, European school systems equip their youth to speak English at a much higher standard than do Japanese schools. The result is that many Europeans who travel to North America are better able to form grammatical sentences than Japanese people, even if their accents are far from native. Part of that may be due to the fact that Japanese and English are much farther apart than are, say, French and English. Scandinavians often sound nearly native in English, and it's no wonder because their languages are so closely related to English, as I learned from studying Norwegian. But part of it may be because the Japanese school system just isn't very good at teaching English. (I say this from observation. I have no opinion of the school systems in other Asian countries.)

Anyway, this is a very difficult problem to quantify, if it exists at all. The original poster, Dyske, didn't even say whether he himself had a hard time being understood or if he was just talking about other Asian people. Since there are many people of Asian descent where I live who were born here and sound like any other native English speakers, and have no difficulties being understood, I'm not sure if this is a real phenomenon (all else being equal) or not.

As to Indian subcontinent accents being hard to understand. I'm sure it's not contextual information. There are many accents within the English language that are hard for North Americans to understand without exposure, and the South Asian accent is just one of them. Others include Scottish, Caribbean, and New Zealand accents. Even British movies needed subtitles or dubbing in the early days of talkies because North American ears had not yet been familiarized with that way of speaking English.

Vaccine doses or dosages?

And that careless usage is why he had to resign. Among other things.

I will go home.

I can't answer this question, but it may be left over from old English. I note that in Norwegian (a cousin from the Old English side), there are two forms of "home": hjem and hjemme. The former is used when movement is involved: "Jeg drar hjem." [I'm going home.] The latter is used when someone is stationary: "Jeg er hjemme." [I'm (at) home.] Similar constructions are used for the Norwegian words for "up" and "down".

Perhaps "home" is so basic to us, that our language treats it as a direction (like "up" and "down") rather than as a place.

Sells or sold?

"Sold only if they used to sell them but they do not sell them anymore." Well, if you were telling about something that happened today, that's true.

But if you were telling a story from the past, you'd say, "I found a store that sold ferrets." And that doesn't mean that they no longer do so.