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



Member Since

November 13, 2010

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Latest Comments

Does “Who knows” need a question mark?

  • November 17, 2010, 2:07am

I agree with DQ, and I think he's right.

'God knows' is actually saying that only God knows, although you're really saying His name in vain. In other words, you don't actually have to to mean it even though you say it (but it's good not to!).

@porsche, well I think pretty much all questions that start with 'who' have that intonation, anyway.

In any case, 'Who knows?' is definitely question. Analogising with the example of using 'God', you don't have to mean it as a question for it to be an actual question. There is a term for this: And, yes, it is a rhetorical question. Now, it is true it is an expression, but expressions can be statements/declarations, orders, or questions!

I feel that your initiating question explains it itself! In,

"I consider “who knows” as a phrase or an expression, not a question"

you already understand that you are considering it not as a question. The issue is just in whether it should still be called a question.

According to wiki,

"A rhetorical question is a figure of speech in the form of a question posed for its persuasive effect without the expectation of a reply (e.g.: "Why me?")"

Just as 'why me?' means something like 'it shouldn't be me', or 'I don't want it to be me', 'who knows?' means something like 'nobody knows', or 'there is no one that knows.. Who do you actually know that knows?'


"Adding a question mark sort of ruins the response especially in writing"

I say, no it doesn't. If you are the writer, then the actual response should be the actual response, or reaction, to what the character in your writing actually said, or asked. And, that character should have asked it the right way, whichever way the writer wanted it to be. And, judging by the response, again, written by the writer, readers will completely understand.

To all the examples given so far, I would pronounce it exactly like a question. I think all you have to read it again.. I always say it like it's a question, although I obviously know it is not. And, I've never heard otherwise; like, I don't even know how you would not read it like a question.

I think you are getting with 'Who knows?' and 'God knows.', because it has a similar intonation. However, if I were to read 'God knows?' as question, it would sound similar to, 'Is that right?'.

But, still there are two or more ways to read 'Who knows?' as a question. And, for that, using a period instead of a question mark would definitely make a difference. In writing, however, it should always be a question mark. Not only for grammatical correctness, but I get confused. It would actually take me 30 seconds or so to realise that it's not someone called 'who'; I'm just conditioned that way. I think most people wouldn't take as long.

In poetry and other arts like novel-writing, it would be acceptable (arguably grammatically as well) to use a period after 'who knows'. Part of the art is straying away from normal conventions. And, even in these cases, I am naturally inclined and conditioned to understand what the author means or may mean when he put a period instead of a question mark (because all authors already know the rules, they are obviously doing this intentionally). In other words, it wouldn't take me as long as about 30 seconds in those instances.

Pronunciation: aunt

  • November 17, 2010, 1:39am

Hey, I'm from Toronto, and moved to Ottawa for 2 years.

It's pretty much the same for both cities. As far as I can remember, I remember being taught aunt like ant. No one really says aunt like "ahnt" - that sounds very southern to me - though people pronounce aunt like awe, and then -nt (one syllable, of course).

But I hear more or less maybe 20%, half the people say it the first way, the other half say it the third way mentioned.

However, I'd say at least 90% of people who say it the third way also incorporate the word 'auntie', either interchangeably, both meaning the word 'aunt', or distinctively, 'auntie' being like a close family friend (female, of course). I've never heard of a male version of the word 'auntie'.

And so, my theory growing up was always that auntie pronounced the third way was always ok, since it was a different word anyway. However, aunt should be properly pronounced like ant the first way. For me, it was like people who didn't know how to pronounce aunt were people who learned 'auntie', first, and then shortened it. I analogise this with how the word 'spliff' turned into 'splee', and then, in turn, to spleezy, that the origin of the word as spliff could not be traced back if you've never heard spliff before.

However, both cities I'm from are so filled with immigrants and the descendants of them, the pronunciation of words have shifted and/or varies as often as from school to school, or even one school can have teachers that pronounce things so differently.

My other theory while growing up was that the third pronunciation of aunt was wrong, because it was the result of people pronouncing the word before hearing it. Since it was different from the 'ant' spelling, it should be pronounced the third way, and the people around them who said it that way just the more confirmed it. On the other hand, I made sure I always said it the first way, because words shouldn't be pronounced the way it's spelt; you know better! Like, 'nobody' is pronounced differently from 'no body' or 'no bodies', although I know most US Americans say it the same way. Same with 'anybody', 'somebody.

For all the black people and others who were offended by the theories on cultural links. I do understand you, especially in the states, but it doesn't mean everyone's being racist or whatever; I know the feeling of when even when the person is saying it in a non-racist way, you know he's still being racist. Now this can come off as a generalisation, as well as an offence in itself, but I think people in the states don't even know what stereotypes are. There are differences between stereotypes, prejudice, discrimination, etc. The stereotype that black people say aunt the third way is simply a stereotype (I've actually never heard of this stereotype before today). However, because it is one it makes it true. That is, because people have this image in their head when they hear aunt the third way or think of a black person saying aunt, they think these two things link together. Of course, it doesn't mean it's in their genes to say 'aunt' the third way; that's preposterous. Both white people and black people, and other people, say it both ways. It just means that for the people that think that, they think most people in a certain group say it that way.. maybe because every single person in that group they've met so far do say it that way.. unlucky individuals that they are! That means it makes it true! It means most people or all people they've met so far do say it that way. Stereotypes are the exact same thing as statistics, except they're not actually statistically proven, if that even makes sense. Because maybe statistically, they're wrong, and it's just the black people in their area that say it that way.

But it by no means makes it discrimination at all, unless they're behaving a certain way because of their preconceived notions! Who cares! Stereotypes is a way to learn! And, for those of you who did think people who had stereotypes about black people are stupid and have preconceived notions, you are also having a preconceived notion about them! (except for those people who made it explicit, such as the users who used "UK wide" and things like that)

Social vs Societal

  • November 14, 2010, 12:47am

I don't know why so many people have not heard the word 'societal' before, maybe because there are a lot of terms with 'social' in it, for instance, 'social networking'.

'societal' is definitely a word, and I've always heard it. And, most importantly, yes, if you look in the dictionary, you'll definitely find it.

I think porsche is right in saying that social is a more broad-meaning word. And societal is directly related to a society, or the logistics or infrastructure of it. Like, the societal affluence.. it's more like the economics of something.

I think Rebecca is pretty spot-on, as well.

Remember, words go beyond lexical meaning. Since you were taking an English course, that could have had an effect. Words give you a certain picture in your head. If you use social instead of societal, that definitely changes so much. Some words have the exact same meaning. In this case, you would only change up the words for literary purposes. But even in different meanings, there is always a literary use for the selection of words, and that can include having a "formal" way of saying things.

I disagree, spammer katrinka. Maybe that is usually the case, but that is an overgeneralisation, and it is not a rule or even a norm in any way.

@Jon, settle down there. Besides your British pride and whatnot, I don't know how old you are, but 1900 - whether that is correct - is a darn long time ago.

Although I would agree that a lot of US Americans are taught a "poor" version of English in some regards, the people who adopted 'societal' did not have a poor understanding at all. I am not certain, but I'm pretty sure that is was originally a sociological term (whoever invented that was a sociologist). I don't think it matters whether the sociologist is from the US, UK, Canada, Australia, or some other European country and he spoke English.

Michael, no one is saying it is more superior, don't assume such things!

And, Jon, I feel that your "Americans seem to reject English words which have too many uses" theory doesn't explain your 'obliged' example, but thanks for that. I've actually never thought about that. I hope you didn't think I was trying to side with the US Americans; my stance is not like that at all.. I'm not even US American!

Ok, I pretty much only read comments up to Michael, and I'm done, this is quite long!

Just like an essay, I will try to give you the prudent answer first: That is a fallacy.

On first thought, if anything, it would be the sixth annual. Literally, you only had six. Calling the sixth the seventh would be a lie. However, there is an exception. If it's annual, and on the sixth year, something happened, like a tornado, or logistical problems, that prevented the event from being hosted, then it would rightfully be the seventh.

One can probably imagine this event's website. This website would have a history section. Subsections would show 'year 1', 'year 2', and so on. 'year 6' would simply say that it the event was held, but fans who arrived would all know that hosting problems occurred.

If the reason was simply that people were lazy to do a sixth year or forgot, but not some unforeseeable intervention, then this whole thing is a fallacy. It is NOT the sixth year, nor the seventh year; it is the first year.

Think about dynasties or kingdoms. There was a kingdom, and a dynasty (or a lineage). It was conquered by a neighbouring kingdom. It was renamed 'Kingdom 2'. Then, some loyal followers of the first kingdom, wanted to restore the "original" dynasty. And so, they led a coup, re-instating one of the descendants of the king of 'Kingdom 1'. Now, irregardless of the new 'Kingdom 3' having more territory (as it is now combined), it still needs to be called 'Kingdom 3'. It is a new entity, as it had a break in between.

In your case, the break was simply not having an annual event, which is the fundamentals of something annual.

You can also use the organisation or language analogy. Like, once a language disappears from the face of the earth, because of ethnic cleansing, it is gone forever. However, I don't want to be redundant; I think you have gotten the point.

Sorry for explaining it in a philosophical way, but it is the only way; and, rightfully so! You asked this question - obviously - because it was a complicated issue; if not, it is because you didn't think it was as complicated, because not a lot of thinking was involved, which explains how you couldn't answer the question.

Thanks for asking the question, because it is indeed a meaningful concept, and I hope I didn't come off as rude.

Also, I DO want to get you started on zed and zee, I heard both while I was growing up, as well as the classic, "hey, don't say zee, that's so American". According to "", there are fading uses of some distinctly "Canadian" sayings like 'chesterfield, serviette, and zed'. I have never heard of people calling couches/sofas chesterfields or paper napkins (that you may get at McDonald's) serviettes, until I saw youtube videos and did further research (I think it's more common out west, and used to be common in Central, but we have become Americanised in those things by the time I was born). I would still argue zed is and should continue to be a Canadian thing (I feel it is the one of the few things that make us unique or something). When I hear serviette - I've always known that word existed - I think of those fancier napkins, if you will, that you see at dine-in restaurants, made of cloth, and not produced to be disposable (a type of tissue), although I now discovered, if anything, it is the opposite. McDonald's Canada has all their restaurants label the napkin/serviette dispenser as 'serviettes'. But even the employees may say 'napkin' more often. It's like something that has been conditioned into us, in the back of our minds. Where I'm from, when we hear serviette, we don't think that person is weird - well, maybe a little; we understand what he means. It's the exact same reaction as when we hear US Americans say bathroom or restroom instead of washroom (although restroom is also a formal way of saying it in Canada) or soda instead of pop (because soda for us is Italian soda, which you can find at Second Cup locations - rivals of your Starbucks, in Canada).

Canadian Native, I found what you said very offensive. It's not that Easterners have accents; EVERYONE has an accent, no matter how you speak. That's basics. it's like when you learn that EVERY professor has a bias; he/she wouldn't have gotten there without having one. A person who doesn't have a bias is someone who isn't thinking and just memorising knowledge as a computer memorises data. However, a good instructor will still teach both his theories and contending theories on an equal level. An accent is simply the way you pronounce words in general, in a language. There is no "real" or "original" accent. Well, historically, you may say the British. But, in your case, accent has a negative connotation. Canadians, British, or US Americans saying that others have an accent and they don't is simply false. They can claim different accents. But those accents are different from immigrant accents, in which speakers of such accents do not know how to pronounce words, and they imitate and/or guess them. My belief is that the key to differentiating an immigrant "bad" accent and regional accents is whether they are consistent in their pronunciations.

Sorry, I meant most hear a difference*
And, I made him say about and a boat, and out and oat*
And, I realised that I wasn't clear in that my last paragraph, first sentence was referring to my third paragraph.

Also, I wanted to address the Shaun C/porsche tension. My understanding is that the confusion lies in Shaun C saying that there is a difference in the pronunciation for the word missile. The two being: miss, and then the pronunciation of isle or aisle, and miss, and then the pronunciation of hull (without the h), which is the same pronunciation of the word 'mistle', which I've never heard before, neither, but think 'mistletoe', not that he was saying one of the pronunciations was miss-tuhl. Ok, I just realised that my hull example and tuhl example could have been wrong. As well, it could be more of a mih-ssuhl, mih-sile pronunciation, as well.

I know some people that pronounce assume and dew like ah-soom and doo, as well as people who say ah-syoom and dyoo. But so many more use the pronunciations interchangeably, without awareness of doing it. I noticed myself saying them more like ah-si-oom (but faster, that the second and third syllable are like one), and di-oo, the same way. However, I also change my pronunciations like my fellow Canadians. This happens as easily as either (ee-ther and i-ther) and a (the letter a and uh) is interchanged.

Hi, everyone. This is going to be my first post. I have been interested in Canadian English, both spelling, sayings, and pronunciation, recently. It's been almost my hobby for the past 3 months or so. I've checked out a lot of youtube videos.

Something I was completely oblivious to was that I was pronouncing mouse and house differently from US Americans (generalisation). The site I was at right before this one explained to me that I was pronouncing knife differently from knives. So ukemon is very right in saying we (I guess esp. Ontarians) pronounce knife like ice, and knives like I.

The voiceless consonants concept is right for the most part. That's something that I and most Canadians think is the most ridiculous thing. We just can't hear it. However, I recently 'trained' my ears to hear the difference. And, it's surprising how that is the one thing all Canadians whether born or immigrated all say in a different way from the US: About and out. To my ears, US Americans almost say "Aba-at", and they have a way of cutting it short in front of the t as well. But to myself, I hear the ab sounds, and then "ow", as in "ow!" (the sound when one is in pain; I hope at least that sound is consistent between us). But, because of the t, we use the short time in between ow and t and make it "oo", as in loot, or "moo" (the sound a cow is supposed to make).

Now, as for whether US Americans think our saying of about and aboot sounds the same. Well, they are oblivious to it, until they actually hear the difference, which is what I noticed on comments on youtube. Most hear that there is a difference, but they just can't put a finger on what that difference is.

But, about and out sounding like a (uh) boat and oat is true, as well. This comes from more eastern regions in Canada. I have a friend from Halifax, Nova Scotia, and I got him to pronounce aboat and oat, and it sounded almost exactly the same. But both him and myself noticed that there was a difference; in this case, it was just too little of a difference!

Actually, whenever we think about it, slow it down, and really articulate it, then it sounds like how I just described it. But usually, it sounds more like what people think sounds like "abewt". At least, that's how they spell it (I wouldn't know how to spell it more accurately, if you will). And, I can see why they think that. When we say it faster it sounds more like that. I'd say Ottawans speak more like that (living for 2 years), rather than in Toronto (where I lived for 18 years).


cannot vs. can not February 9, 2011