Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
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Member Since

December 14, 2005

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Latest Comments

you all

  • December 14, 2005, 2:57pm

"You all" means "all of you". The problem with you by itself is it's unclear whether it's singular or plural. I think that ambiguity is at least one reason why "Hi, you" wouldn't work as a greeting. You have to make it clear you're speaking to a plural audience *before* using you to address them. Also the reason for "Hi, you guys." I think I might greet a pair of friends with "Hey, you two!" Although it's a little more difficult to make that sound informal.

Of course the other problem is that "Hi, you" sounds strange even talking to just one person.

North or northern

  • December 14, 2005, 2:44pm

Texas is divided into informal regions: North Texas, East Texas, South Texas, West Texas. It and a couple other states might be exceptions, but what about cities? Everyone in the area knows what north Dallas is, yet it's also a part of Dallas.

So I disagree with Gary, at least in part.

North US could never be used because it's *the* US, likewise with something like the Rockies. However, there's a North Pacific and South Pacific, but we also just say "The Pacific".

I don't think "East Europe" sounds right any way you use it.

The only rule I see is, northern, southern, etc. can be used to refer to whatever looks to you like the northern part, southern part, etc, while North, South, etc. always refer to something more specific and agreed-upon, usually with set boundaries. The exception is where the terms Northern, Southern, etc are used instead for the specific parts, like Europe.

As far as search engines go, there's a LOT of bad grammar on the web. Try looking up a word misspelled and you get plenty of definitions.

“my tire flattened”

  • December 14, 2005, 2:24pm

I've heard "flatten out" or "flattened out" a lot in colloquial usage, but that doesn't make it proper. It's not a rule that every transitive verb describing changing the state of something can be intransitive as well, is it?
For example, you wouldn't usually think of "to cut" meaning to be cut. But it can be said that paper cuts well or cuts roughly. However, is that proper?
A better example: "heightened". I've never heard that used as an intransitive verb, have you?

More examples:
folded (which is proper)
rounded (out)
filled (out or up)
fattened (up)

Hyphen, N-dash, M-dash

  • December 14, 2005, 1:02pm

What about spaces? I've long been confused about whether to whether to space around dashes -- m-dashes I suppose -- or put them right up against the words. MS Word automatically changes a dash surrounded by space to an n-dash, while a "--" connecting words becomes an m-dash.

Use of multiple periods

  • December 14, 2005, 12:52pm

The rule is that an ellipsis should always have spaces between the dots. However, if you're typing in MS Word you should type them together and AutoCorrect will replace them with a single character.
Generally English teachers only allow ellipses for ommissions within quotes, but in more informal writing they also stand for a pause or trailing off.

However, I wouldn't call it a replacement comma!

I've always liked the idea of using more dots for longer pauses, but that's probably not correct, and I don't see it used ever. Sad . . . I like playing around with punctuation. . . .

PS The one problem with ellipses, though is that they are very easy to overuse!


____ and he? December 14, 2005