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


Damian C.

Member Since

April 25, 2013

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Latest Comments

Reference, refer.

  • September 17, 2013, 12:09pm

I like your explanation a lot, Jean, it should be the final word, I'd say. I would like to hear more about the term from logic and the literary speech and literary theory though. What are you referencing exactly[sic]?

All that being said, "and each later I references that first usage;" couldn't you just as easily substitute "refers to?" Which makes the distinction a little cloudier--I fail to see how either use would change the meaning here, referents notwithstanding. (I assume your quotation mark after "usage" is a typo.)

Reference, refer.

  • April 27, 2013, 3:23pm

Well, we've just about beat this one to death, but let me just add that no writer in English would cite US Government usage as examples of anything but bureaucratese. Perhaps the Brits are better, and if they've declined this usage, good on 'em.

What's wrong with "Each number on the cost statement refers to a note."? Shorter.
The example of "Nadir pressure, etc.," well, I admit that reference does work better there, but a better construction might be "Nadir pressure was observed in reference to . . . " But since this example is medical report jargon, in respect of brevity, I find it acceptable. The language police have spoken.

But the last, is, to my mind, much better as: "the letter of confirmation we refer to because it was a repeat."
QED, reference, can and ought to be avoided whenever possible. It's close cousin, cross-reference, may have no easy substitute.

Reference, refer.

  • April 27, 2013, 8:40am

That may be, but it still grates, because, I suppose, I am an inherent prescriptivist, and there are countless examples of poor usage throughout written English's long history that made it into dictionaries. You cannot use "reference" as you might "refer to" as interchangeable in the sentence: "I refer you to the standard authority on this subject." I "reference" you" sounds like a threat. Though I recognize and in many cases approve of neologisms, back formations, and creative use of the language. "Borked," for example (and boy, did he deserve it!). Anyway, it seems to me that referenced was first used because someone forgot or was too lazy to use the phrase "refers to." Doesn't make it right, just as many dictionaries refuse to call certain words improper--like incent.

Another favorite is "rusticated" An example of which is "aint."

"Ain't, "now, is a curious thing because as a sort of contraction of "am not," or "is not" is not in itself improper, and it was used quite often by Henry James in his characters' dialogue, mainly by his highly educated and often eloquent protagonists. And of course, nearly everyone (with the exception of my very proper son) says "ain't" at some point, so how can it be non-standard? Informal, yes. Ain't that so? And doesn't "Ain't I a woman?" (I'm not, by the way, and Sojourner Truth didn't write that) has an undeniable ring and force to it that "Am I not a woman?" does not.

Looking back at this string, I note that "regifting" is mentioned, (to hyphen or not to hyphenate?) and in this case, I like it a lot because of its specific and slightly ironic sense--something you give away because you don't really like it yourself, like the well-traveled fruitcake.

And R. Deckard, I liked your comment, but "with" is not a conjunction, and "onto" should be "on to" as we go on to better things.

I hope you all find this cromulent.

Reference, refer.

  • April 25, 2013, 2:03pm

And what about salespeak, "incent?" I was incented to sell more (not to mention salespeak itself). Incentivize, by comparison seems innocuous, though still odious.

Recall that among his other outsize faults, Alexander Haig was a champion of verbification of nouns and of course, nounification of verbs. I don't have to bring Humpty Dumpty into the argument, but he said it best, however nonsensical it is. "When I use a word, etc."

I take issue with David F. however, on the question of "reference." In the world of sales, it is often used as a verb, gratingly, I might add. And, conversely, referral is often confused with reference (you can find my referrals below), which I often find confusing, except that in the sales world, English is usually the first casualty, and obfuscation is often the goal.

Flapjack, I vote against "gifted," being so myself, and I gifted myself that award; I am self-described as gifted because I gifted myself that condition. Sounds pretty silly, OED usage is often a very good guide to archaisms . Did Carol actually hear "conversate?" I would have left the room. Orientate? Commentate is an actual archaic word, don't you know, and we've become so used to commentator that commentor sounds strange to our ears--or mine, anyway and spellcheck doesn't like it. For this I am a lamentator.

I was taught that sloppy grammar is a mark of sloppy thinking. Maybe so.

Some of the greatest sinners are of course academics, who abused the language and they should have known better, when they verbified "critique," as in "Please critique this book." I still hate it.

I'm with you John, I'm superhuman, too. What planet are you from?