Your Pain Is Our Pleasure

Pain in the English offers proofreading services for short-form writing such as press releases, job applications, or marketing copy. 24 hour turnaround. Learn More


Joined: February 3, 2004  (email not validated)
Comments posted: 477
Votes received: 791

No user description provided.

Questions Submitted

Recent Comments

*Did* you have a baby? If so, congratulations :)

speedwell March 10, 2005, 8:18am

3 votes    Permalink    Report Abuse

I'd like to point out the utterly obvious, which is that your usage depends on context. You can easily see which to use in the following sentences:

____ had a baby, and we're both tired from getting up all night.

____ had a baby, and her obstetrician made her stay one extra day in the hospital.

____ had a baby, but now I have a teenager.

speedwell March 10, 2005, 8:16am

3 votes    Permalink    Report Abuse


The proper spelling of the word, to the extent there is a proper spelling, is "y'all." "Y'all" is a contraction, like "don't" and "isn't." The apostrophe stands for the dropped letters "O" and "U."

"You" is either singular or plural, or usable when you don't know or don't want to specify singular or plural.

"Y'all" can sometimes be used in the singular, but I rarely hear the singular usage anymore, and I never hear it in Texas. It means the same thing as, and is interchangeable with, "you all" (depending on how slow your drawl is). It is plausible to me that sometimes "you all" in modern speech is actually a re-expanded "y'all."

"All y'all" is a "superplural" that you hear used in contexts like the following: "I can go with y'all in the car, or with y'all in the truck, but I can't go with all y'all at the same time." "All y'all kids get out of the mud and get some ice cream--it ain't waitin' on all y'all."

speedwell March 9, 2005, 9:08am

0 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse

Actually Naeboo's first example is incorrect, but his second example is correct.

speedwell March 8, 2005, 2:27pm

0 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse

Because the "doing" of a meal is something you must do on a prearranged basis and in company.

When the Hollywood producer tells the star, "Have your girl call my girl and we'll do lunch," he's speaking Los Angeles slang for something a Houston oil executive might render as "Tell your gal to call mine and we'll meet for a steak," or an Atlanta office manager, "Have your secretary schedule us a time for a lunch meeting downtown."

speedwell March 8, 2005, 2:21pm

2 votes    Permalink    Report Abuse

Oh, really?

speedwell March 8, 2005, 9:08am

1 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse

I am a woman, and my partner of seven years (a professional animator who goes by "Phaedrus" online) is a man. We are in a permanent committed relationship. We are not married, but our families say we might as well be. We use the word "partner" only when the person we are speaking to is aware that we are a man and a woman.

A columnist for the Atlanta Journal, if I recall correctly, is a lovely older fellow who calls his wife his "partner" because he sees his long, happy marriage as a full partnership. To him, the word "wife" implies an outdated and demeaning property status.

I have a gay friend who is in a permanent relationship with another man. They call each other "husband." A woman I know who is in an analogous situation calls the woman with whom she shares the relationship her "companion." With legal marriage becoming increasingly available to homosexuals in this country, most people I know, whether gay or straight, want to call the person to whom they are married their "spouse," "wife," or "husband."

I remember when it was in vogue to refer to your partner to whom you were not married as a "significant other." (Phooey. Nobody uses that anymore except to get a laugh.) The government currently uses "domestic partner" to refer to the person and "domestic partnership" to refer to the relationship itself, I believe.

In short, it is really the responsibility of the individuals in a given relationship to clarify what they mean when they use the word "partner" (romantic, business, etc.).

It does make the range cowboys in Texas sound kind of funny when they go around calling each other "Pardner," though. :)

speedwell March 8, 2005, 9:04am

0 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse

When speaking English, rather than French, the accent is optional. Use it or don't use it, but pick one and be consistent throughout your document.

speedwell March 3, 2005, 11:14am

0 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse

It may help to experimentally substitute "better" and "best" into the sentence to see which makes more sense. If "better" sounds better, then you would use "worse;" if "best" sounds like the right fit, then use "worst."

speedwell February 28, 2005, 8:25am

0 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse

What Nigel is suggesting by the use of "some thing" is close to and may be clarified by this example: "This is neither the beginning nor the end of a thing."

For the record, I disagree; I think "some thing" in this context is awkward and unusual and obsolete. I definitely prefer "something."

A little pathos to enliven your morning:

"Travis looked at me with a drawn face across the top of his cup of tea. With a sigh, he said, 'Amanda, I really do not wish to abuse your trust in me, nor do I take lightly that which you have confessed you feel for me. But I am simply too attached to you to risk losing you to romantic complications.' As I began to cry silently behind the cover of my lace napkin, I felt his arm slip around me. With his cheek pressed against my hair, he murmured, 'Don't cry, sweetheart. This is neither the beginning nor the end of something. Our relationship hasn't really changed.'"

speedwell February 28, 2005, 8:20am

0 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse

Ha! I got it...

"What number is Manmohan Singh in the succession of Prime Ministers of India?"

This will return "fourteen," but, understanding the intent of the question, many people will probably answer "He's the fourteenth Pime Minister."

speedwell February 28, 2005, 8:05am

3 votes    Permalink    Report Abuse

Yes, the second "sentence" may be a fragment, but that isn't what Ted really wanted to know.

Ted, "worst" is the opposite of "best," so despite the fragmentary nature of your second example, the usage of "worst" is correct. They are both superlatives (think about other similar words that end in -est, such as "prettiest" and "highest").

But when describing something that has gotten more undesirable in some way, the correct word is "worse."


"My son used to just steal beer from the refrigerator, but now he has become hooked on drugs. I have had the worst time dealing with him. He has gone from bad to worse."

"My boss insults customers, golfs on work time, and lies on his expense account. But worst of all, he cooks the books. I have never had a worse boss."

speedwell February 28, 2005, 8:00am

0 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse

As a Houstonian myself, xuan, I really sympathize with you and all the other people who took the TAKS test yesterday. (MUST they call it "TAKS?" Seems like the government is tax-crazy, huh.)

speedwell February 24, 2005, 8:42am

0 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse

"To eat breakfast" is just more precise than "to have breakfast." You can almost always substitute "to have" for "to eat."

Some weird context exceptions:

"My baby won't eat his mashed bananas." (You can't really say, "My baby won't have his mashed bananas," because he does really have them--he just won't eat them.)

"The stranded sailors ate two of their shipmates before they were rescued." (Someone braver than I am must explain why "had" just won't do here.)

"Monsieur Flambe is a circus performer who eats fire." ("Fire eater" is the special name for this, ah, profession.)

speedwell February 18, 2005, 8:13am

5 votes    Permalink    Report Abuse

Think of a simpler example:

"I have never gone to see her new house."


"I never went to see her new house."

"To undergo" follows essentially the same format as "To go."

Speedwell February 17, 2005, 9:22am

0 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse

The following sentences are both correct:

"The patient has never undergone a colostomy."

"The patient never underwent a colostomy."

One or the other may sound better to you in your context.

Speedwell February 17, 2005, 9:19am

0 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse

I prefer "Internet," but many newspapers and magazines are going with "internet." I hate that.

As far as goes an individual site, I most often see and prefer "website." "Website" only at the beginning of a sentence; "web site," "Web site," and "web-site" are right out. But I always, without exception, see "the World Wide Web," just like that.

Whichever you choose, just make sure it's consistent.

speedwell February 16, 2005, 4:12pm

0 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse

Just to clarify "immediately to"....

You can have a sentence such as "Jane went immediately to the kitchen to make coffee," or "Mike set immediately to work on the dirty dishes in the sink." But in those cases you don't have the phrase "immediately to" as I was discussing below.

In the first example, the "to" belongs to the prepositional phrase "to the kitchen." In the second, the "to" belongs to the infinitive (basic verb form) "to work."

speedwell February 15, 2005, 12:04pm

0 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse

You can actually use "immediately" in any direction in space or time, so you can have "immediately before," "immediately after," "immediately above," "immediately behind," etc. The sense is equivalent to "right next to."

By analogy, you can have specialized uses like "immediately inside the doorway" (right next to it on the inside, like where you might find a light switch), "immediately over the next hill" (just as you get to the other side), "immediately across the street from," or "following immediately upon his heels" (like what a dog does when walking with his master). You'll get to know these by experience.

Some constructions you cannot have include "immediately in," "immediately from," "immediately to," and so forth.

speedwell February 15, 2005, 11:59am

0 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse

I agree 100%. No doubts here :)

speedwell February 14, 2005, 8:13am

1 vote    Permalink    Report Abuse