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Still used in the non-ironic sense here in Texas, if the speaker wants to give a sort of old-fashioned, earnest tone to what he's saying.

speedwell February 10, 2005, 8:16am

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No, because we're too lazy to tweak the cliched phrase for grammar agreement. :)

"Worst-case" is a compound adjective that I've also seen modifying words like "performance" and "outcome." The use with "scenario" was popularized by a morbid, but cute, little yellow book called "The Worst-Case Scenario Handbook." (Don't ask.)

I'm not sure where the phrase originated, but my guess would be in military strategy, where several (i.e. more than two) projected results of any given decision would naturally be examined.

speedwell February 1, 2005, 8:18am

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Oh, pish-posh. :)

"Modern" French (that is, not Old French) is probably responsible for most, if not all, English words beginning with a silent H. It has nothing to do with the ancient English pronunciation rule governing the use of "a" and "an."

speedwell February 1, 2005, 8:05am

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Well, it depends. "Beforehand" can be an adjective or an adverb. Check this out:

Adjective example: "Maximilian was beforehand in his marriage proposal to Clarissa." (In other words, he proposed before he had asked Clara's daddy; he should have waited until the right time.)

Adverb example without "-ly": "Maximilian should not have proposed beforehand."

Adverb example with "-ly": "Maximilian looked soulfully at Clarissa, and declared beforehandedly, 'I'll have you as my wife, whatever your father says!'"

speedwell February 1, 2005, 8:01am

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I remember reading, in American novels more than a hundred years old, "directly" used in the same way. Probably the usage has just fallen out of currency here in the States.

speedwell February 1, 2005, 7:51am

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Oh, Christ, I'm so asleep. I had better not come back until after coffee time.

I meant "proactively," not "presumptively," which will not do. I'll stay on the case and report back after the caffeine kicks in.

speedwell January 31, 2005, 9:22am

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"Beforehandedly" would be the correct way to form the adverb, if you wanted, but look up "presumptively" and see if it doesn't have the meaning you want.

speedwell January 31, 2005, 9:19am

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"Frilly" was a terrible example, I do admit.

(Monday morning... better have that cup of coffee now!)

speedwell January 31, 2005, 9:17am

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I can think of at least one case in which American English speakers don't use an object with the verb "reach":

"Reach over and I'll hand you your coffee."
"I'm trying, but I can't reach."

In the second quote, there's an implied object (as if it said "...I can't reach it"), but in the first, there appears to truly be no object.

I remember hearing, one day at work, a manager from India use "reach" in the way you describe. I though at first it was just imperfect English, but apparently it's a perfectly acceptable construction in the English spoken in India.

speedwell January 31, 2005, 9:13am

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lysdexia, goossun learned English, I gather, through his continual study and travel abroad. You must be one of my fellow Americans, because you appear to think that people who have trouble with certain aspects of English are ignorant (and goossun, whatever else he might be, is far from ignorant; trust me on this.) :)

The issue at hand appears to be whether a rule exists to help you choose "-ly" or "-ally" when making an adjective (typically) into an adverb.

Well, "typically" is a good word to analyze. You begin with the word "typical," then you add the adverbial "-ly." Most (if not all) words ending in "-ally" have an adjective with "-al," such as "usually" ("usual") and "tragically" (from "tragical," now obsolete).

The other case of adverbs that appear to end in "-lly" is when you make an adverb out of an adjective ending with "-ll," such as "fully" ("full") or "frilly" ("frill").

For most adjectives, you do make adverbs by just adding "-ly." There are some exceptions that have to be learned individually, such as "slily" ("sly") and "simply" ("simple").

speedwell January 31, 2005, 9:06am

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Joachim, you're right... Chiara, I did misunderstand you, partially. You said "an" would not be used for words beginning with "u," and then you gave examples of "u" words that DO use "an."

Just remember that some "u" words go one way and some the other, depending on how you say them.

Something related that I was thinking about is that the use of "a" or "an" depends on the word immediately following, not on the noun to which the article refers. So you could have:

"A hope" (or as Goossun's Cockney fellow would say, "an 'ope"), but:
"A forlorn hope" (the Cockney would say "A forlorn 'ope")

Also good to remember that in American English, at least, the pronunciation of the vowel in "the" varies by the following word's initial letter in just the same way. You would pronounce "thuh" before words you pronounce with a beginning consonant, and "thee" before words you pronounce with a beginning vowel.

speedwell January 31, 2005, 8:32am

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It's properly pronounced "worst."

Laziness, however, is how ALL linguistic change comes about.

speedwell January 28, 2005, 8:22am

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Madame from Nîmes, I think you're right, but do you have any thoughts about why the error is so common and widespread?

speedwell January 25, 2005, 7:55am

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It's not my list, id, but I'm sure that certain dialects do omit the L (members of my family from the Midwest and California speak this way). In others, the L is at least partly suppressed. As I said, YMMV (your mileage may vary).

speedwell January 25, 2005, 7:52am

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Sorry about the hasty nature of the previous post... Speedwell posts from work and accidentally hit "send" while the boss was dictating an e-mail. I'll leave the grammar correction as an practice exercise. (heh)

speedwell January 24, 2005, 9:12am

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According to the (online) 1911 edition of the Encyclopaedia Brittanica, "The origin of the word is unknown, but it has been fancifully suggested that, while the other toes touch the ground in walking, the dew-claw merely brushes the dew from the grass."

Other sources say it's unknown, but may be from "toe."

Knowing the practical nature of the ancients in coming up with words for things, I looked up the derivation of "thumb" on a hunch and found the Indo-european root "teu-" so maybe I'm on to something.

speedwell January 24, 2005, 9:09am

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Nicole, it works like this:

You make the plural and the possessive in the usual way for acronyms. For example: I had a VCR. The VCR's power button was broken. I bought another VCR, so I had two VCRs. Then the second one's channel selector button broke, so I could tell that the VCRs' buttons were made cheaply.

This rule is exactly the same when the acronym in question ends in an S. So you have one ACS, and a thing belonging to it is the ACS's thing. Or you have additional ACSs, and something belonging to the ACSs is the ACSs' thing.

Got that? :)

speedwell January 20, 2005, 3:45pm

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speedwell January 20, 2005, 9:48am

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Another interesting example is shown in this excerpt from the (presumably ancient Scottish) poem "Hardyknute":

"To horse, to horse, my royal liege,
Your faes stand on the strand,
Full twenty thousand glittering spears
The King of Norse commands."

The closest American equivalent I can think of would be something like, "Let's ride." We wouldn't say, "To the horse, to the horse...."

speedwell January 19, 2005, 10:53am

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Oh, I don't particularly care about being brainier-than-thou, and I've known about Cawdrey since the second grade. You were the one who started with the uncalled-for sneer against Steph, not to mention your unbecoming little snit fit against Americans. But I understand, really. The effects of psychiatric medication aren't always as predictable as we'd like.

speedwell January 19, 2005, 10:47am

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