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 a 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 a passion. Learn More



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I used to design a lot of "lower-third" titles for video/film, and occasionally I've encountered this situation. I don't think this is a grammar issue, and I would not expect to find answers in style manuals. I think this is a graphic design issue.

Any textual elements to be designed shouldn't fall under such rules or standards. However, if the same treatment were to be repeated, you would want it to be consistent with your own rules.

When using all caps, I do lowercase names like McDONALD and do so consistently, primarily for readability. (I would not lowercase "JR." My rule would be that I lowercase a letter only if there are more letters following it without a space. In computer programming, it's called "CamelCase.") If you do so inconsistently, it would appear to be a mistake. If you never use lowercase letters ("MCDONALD"), I wouldn't consider it wrong as long as you do so consistently.

I also see designers lowercase all letters, like "mcdonald," for stylistic reasons. If you want, you could capitalize the last letter, like "mcdonalD, or capitalize random letters, like "mCdoNaLd," as long as the randomness is consistent. That is your artistic license as a designer. The key is consistency.

The company 'are'

  • June 29, 2022, 7:42pm

"Google said it would file a lawsuit but did not specify the date."

I'm tempted to use "they" in the example above because I visualize multiple people involved at Google.

I don't think 1 and 3 are wrong, but they mean different things.

1. would mean that you don't know in what way I'm delighted. I could be delighted like Charlie Chaplin might be (exaggerated), or Humphrey Bogart might be (reserved).

2. would mean you don't know the degree to which I'm delighted.

It is you who are/is ...

  • February 25, 2019, 1:12pm

In “it is you,” what does “it” refer to? That is the key question here. A more direct way of constructing this sentence is: “Who is wrong is you.” In this case, you would not write “Who are wrong is you.” Why? Because it’s saying “The answer is you.” The answer is singular.

To reveal what is implied but not said, we can write the same sentence like this: “To the question of who is wrong, the answer is you.” Or, “The answer to the question of who is wrong is you.”

In other words, “is” should match “the answer” not “you.” If “It” were referring to “you,” the sentence would be a tautology: “You are you.” You would not write “The answer are you.” So, I would argue that “is” is the correct answer.

I think this is a stylistic difference. I don't think you'd find anyone decisively saying it's grammatically correct or incorrect. The more common conundrums are with name suffixes, like PhD and Jr. "John Doe, PhD's résumé is impressive," looks quite awkward. "Jr." is even more awkward because it has a period.

The Chicago Manual of Style says "when a word ends in an apostrophe, no period or comma should intervene between the word and the apostrophe."

But conveniently, they don't suggest a solution...

I am so sorry

  • May 8, 2018, 1:56pm

Merriam-Webster calls this specific usage "intensive," meaning "so" just intensifies the following adjective. It says, "The intensive use of so is widely condemned in college handbooks but is nonetheless standard." In other words, it's an informal use. Formal use of "so" must suggest a specific manner/way, as your examples do.

acclimated vs. acclimatised

  • May 8, 2018, 1:42pm

According to my research, acclimate, acclimatise, and acclimatize all mean the same thing. These are just regional differences. In the US, I mostly hear "acclimate," and it's always in the passive form, "be acclimated."

I just thought of one scenario where "width" is indeed used independently of the orientation: a carpet.

I think most people would call the shorter side "width" and the longer side "length" when describing the dimensions of a carpet regardless of where they are standing in relation to it. And, if they were to draw it on a piece of paper, they are more likely to draw it horizontally and still call the vertical side "width." This is because we write horizontally; drawing the carpet vertically on a sheet of paper would take up too much space.

So, any two-dimensional shape lying flat on the ground would use the convention where "width" is orientation-neutral. This may include a shape of land, pool, and road. It, therefore, makes sense that Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (the quote in my original post) would use "width" independently of the orientation. In fact, I can't think of another word that we could use instead of "width." In other languages, there may be an orientation-neutral word that is paired with "length" which simply means "the shorter side." In English, there isn't one.

This may be the source of confusion.

The word "height" has no ambiguities because it's not possible for us to change our standing positions in order to change the orientation. (We would have to be able to defy gravity and stand on a wall.) In contrast, with a shape lying flat on the ground, we can easily change the orientation without moving the object, hence the confusion/ambiguity.

Quotation marks for repeated items

  • February 5, 2016, 10:58am

I think you are referring to "ditto mark". See this Wikipedia entry:

If the question mark is inside of the inner quote, 'no substitutions?', it would imply that the menu itself was asking the question. (As if the menu is asking the customers if they want substitutions or not.)

So the right answer is b.


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