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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1.  You don’t know how I am delighted to have you as a friend

2.  You don’t know how delighted I am to have you as a friend.

3. I hope one day I can do something for you to show you how you are lovable in my heart and mind.

4. I hope one day I can do something for you to show you how loved you are in my heart and mind.

Sentences 2 and 4 are correct; sentences 1 and 3 are not.  Please could you explain why?  Thank you.

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Is it grammatically ok to use the adjective “respective” with a singular noun ?

Many dictionaries such as Longman define the term “respective” as follows.

used before a plural noun to refer to the different things that belong to each separate person or thing mentioned.

But, I often see “respective” used with a singular noun as follows (cited from an Internet site).

Each of the Division’s three regional offices - in Chicago, New York, and San Francisco - handles criminal matters arising in its respective area and serves as the Division’s liaison with U.S. attorneys, state attorneys general, and other regional law enforcement agencies.

I wonder if the above usage is now common, though it is gramatically incorrect.

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Is it possible to say “by the time we arrived at the cinema, the film was starting”? Or do I have to say “the film had started”? 

Both structures sound ok to me if I use another verb (sleep) instead of “start” (“by the time I got there, he was already sleeping”) so I do not know if I am using the structure right (perhaps I should use “when” and not “by the time”) or if it is the verb “start” (due to its meaning) what makes “by the time we arrived, the film was starting” sound strange. 

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I’ve read a sentence like this:

Not only did George buy the house, but he also remodeled it.

think this counts as a complex sentence, but I want to get some extra opinions.  Doesn’t “Not only did George buy the house” modify “remodeled,” thus making the first clause dependent?  In common English usage, the position of the subject “George” after “did” is fine in an interrogative sentence, but it’s not in a declarative sentence.  Does the departure from standard declarative syntax suggest that the first clause is not independent (and therefore dependent)?

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In our office we are advocates for our client and in representing what we do with a client we have times that we advocate for our clients. I am under the impression that you can advocate for your client to do something with them and several of my co workers disagree stating that you can only advocate for them to receive something with another provider or resource. Who is corrent? examples:

Can you correctly say:

“the care support provider provided advocacy in encouraging the client to participate in therapy” or the “Care manager advocated with the client to participate in therapy weekly.”

Can we advocate for a client to do something that they are recommended to do. Using advocated in the place of “encouraged”

office question responses appreciated.

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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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I have recently been seeing rejections of many phrases with ‘of’ in them because they are “less concise.” An example of this would be changing “All six of the men were considered dangerous” to “All six men were considered dangerous.” Recently, someone corrected a sentence I wrote and it just doesn’t sound right even though it may be concise. They changed “There are six species of snakes and four species of butterfly on the list” to “There are six snake species and four lizard species on the list.”

Bonus question: Is it “species of butterfly” or “species of butterflies”?

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In the following sentence, are both parts of the clause correct for a present unreal sentence?

“She would have wanted you to become a doctor if she were alive today”

In this sentence, shouldn’t it be this?

“She would want you to become a doctor if she...”

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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 moved to the US from Japan when I was 16, and in the 30 years I’ve lived here, I’ve noticed the ease with which Europeans communicate with native English speakers even when they have heavy accents. In contrast, Asian immigrants seem to have a harder time being understood by the native speakers. Asians typically blame the problem on their accents and their pronunciation but Americans, particularly urban Americans, are used to hearing a variety of accents. It seems to me that there is something else at work causing the difference between Asian and European ESL speakers.

Compared to the Japanese language, some of the phonemes in English are very subtle (like the th sound). So, over the phone, when we are spelling a name, we provide contextual information, like, “M as in Mary. S as in Sam,” and so on. The subtleties are lost over the phone, and we cannot differentiate between N vs. M, S vs. F, and so on. The Japanese language does not have this problem. I believe English is a more context-dependent language because there is a constant need to fill in the information lost in the subtleties.

Even when two native speakers are talking to each other, often they can’t hear each other well (e.g., noisy bar, subway platform, poor quality phone connection, etc..) but they THINK they hear everything. They are actually filling in the missing information from the context.

The reason Europeans have an easier time even with heavy accents is that their cultures are still very similar. They are able to provide better contextual information as they speak. Because Asian cultures are so different, Asian speakers are not able to provide enough contextual information in their sentences and their body language. Even if they can speak with no accent, their sentences can come out sounding foreign, like the automatic translation provided by Google—grammatically correct but incomprehensible. This makes it hard for Americans to understand especially if the speaker has a heavy accent.

A friend of mine is a pilot for Japan Airlines. As long as he is communicating within the context of air travel (like speaking to the passengers on the plane about the delays and weather forecast), nobody has trouble understanding him. This is because the cultural context in this instance is very narrow and well-defined which allows everyone to fill in the gap easily. But he has trouble understanding and being understood outside of this context because of the wide range of contextual possibilities.

If a French person were talking to an American about how he was treated at a particular restaurant, neither would have any problem understanding the cultural context since the restaurants in France function very much like the restaurants here in the US. But the restaurants in Japan work very differently. In fact, their customs in restaurants are so different that some Japanese people take an etiquette class to be able to eat at Western restaurants. (You can see an example of this in the movie, Tampopo). When you are deficient in the cultural knowledge to this degree, accent becomes a secondary issue. Even with flawless pronunciation, you could still have trouble being understood because the listeners have no idea what you are referring to.

Many native speakers find Indian English speakers hard to understand, even those who have been speaking English all their lives. We readily recognize Indian accent like we recognize Southern and British accents. So, the problem is not lack of familiarity. I think it’s the lack of contextual information because the Indian culture too is very different. We mistakenly believe that the problem is their accent.

What do you think?

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Latest Comments

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".

My only ‘exposure’ to American-English is on CNN and I have only noticed this ‘shtr’ in the last two years or so.... it is indeed very strange and I cannot see any reason for it. I am also hearing more and more people using the hiatus R... as in ‘the ideaR of it’. Very definitely a very British thing, maybe even English more than British. It certainly is not a feature in Irish-English thankfully. It sounds so awkward and unnecessary.