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?


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.


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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Excess vs. Excessive

My understanding is that excess means extra and unwanted and on the other hand excessive means too much or more than is necessary. Because excessive also means too much, I would say that has more of a negative ring to it than excess.

Plural s-ending Possessives

  • Apoole
  • November 12, 2019, 6:02pm

I want to order a gift for 2 families: The Schultz & The Fox family. How do I correctly put each name....would it be The Foxes or The Foxs and how do you spell The Schultz - would it have an s at the end?

It really should have it's own name. I believe the concept you are talking about is often called Satiric Misspelling ("so phuny") or Sensational Spelling for when it's more for impact (think Beetles as opposed to Beatles).

Computer mouses or computer mice?

Il problema nasce nel momento in cui devo comprarne due, uno per Francesco e uno per Rita, essendo ovvio che ogni pc ne ha uno!

“she” vs “her”

As many others have so aptly noted, the Administrator in your anecdote was correct. The point about subject vs. object has been so concisely explained that I won’t repeat it.

Try to think about it this way. “Her” is always possessive: her degree, her resume, her partner, her job, her kids. It explains or modifies the noun that follows. If you think about it that way, you can understand how illogical it is to say “her went with me on vacation.” Or “her & I” drove to the hospital. (Yet, it would be perfectly fine, however, to say “her sister & I went on vacation” since her is paired with a noun. In that instance, her is used as the possessive that makes sense of, or modifies the noun “sister.”

I hope that helps.

“I’ve got” vs. “I have”

Thank you!

"May you please..." literally equals "Might you allow yourself to..."

"This is she" is the only correct answer. "Is" is a linking verb (to be form), and linking verbs are equivalent to "equal(s)". Thus This and she are equals, i.e., this=she. The answerer is saying "This is I". After the linking verbs "to be" is a predicate nominative - nominative form, not objective in this case.

10 Head of Cattle

It is a form of measurement, a head is unit in a herd.
If you had 2 herds of cattle one bigger than the other, the count would be in head.

He was sat

  • Tbyfg
  • November 7, 2019, 9:42am

As an English teacher (from the South of the UK), I have a "Standard" accent, yet I realise I use features of non-Standard English. For example, today a (linguist) friend noticed I said, "is anyone sat here?" Instead of "is anyone sitting here?" In my opinion, it is more important to be authentic but also to notice that there is variation in language around the "Standard". It's good to draw our students' attention to this variation. Yes they should learn standard forms and the "proper" structures. But they should also recognise and be introduced to regional variation - how will their "Standard English" knowledge help them in real life situations? They will be lost in northern England, or Scotland, for example. Students are not stupid. You can point out these features to them, or they can notice when you use "non-standard" features, and you can have a discussion about it. I automatically say "yeah" and colloquial language in the classroom. It is authentic and the kind of language they'll be exposed to when they watch TV or when they talk to native speakers. It is therefore important to use and teach these forms. At the same time, we can point out the register and when it is appropriate to use them. You can simply tell them not to use yeah or hiya in formal writing. End of story.