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



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August 12, 2010

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@AC In "care", "bare", "here", "hare", the final "e" seems to be a spelling hangover rather than a real vowel, and today just affects the pronunciation of the vowel in the previous syllable. Compare cut/cute, car/care, bar/bare/bear, her/here and so on.
Also in the phrase "after all", the "r" sound reappears to link the two words.
Above are just special cases for non-rhotic dialects.

Are proverbs dying?

  • July 3, 2014, 7:53pm

I have often wondered whether and what to teach non-native speakers in terms of proverbs. Always seems to me that one needs to understand them, but not to use them.
There's a nice one in Hungarian - "My snowboots are full of it" = I've had enough - which is the only one I use regularly, but not really necessary at all.

Meaningless Use of “key”

  • June 3, 2014, 8:15pm

Salve Brus!

The key question here is under which key circumstances are we to admit new lexical items into mainstream English. De facto, English has always been changing, and nolens volens we must face this key reality. The status quo is no different from what has gone before.

Of course the fourth estate is at the slicing edge of change: written by key professionals who seek punchy new phrases and short headlines. "Key" as an adjective is shorter than the alternatives.

Semper rectum est quod vox populi dicit.

(rectum means correct not "rectum")

Modal Remoteness & Tense

  • June 3, 2014, 7:47pm

Dear Jasper

If you use "thou" and "thee", please note the correct endings for common verbs:*&year_start=1800&year_end=2000&corpus=15&smoothing=3&share=&direct_url=t2%3B%2Cthou%20*%3B%2Cc0%3B%2Cs0%3B%3Bthou%20hast%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Bthou%20art%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Bthou%20shalt%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Bthou%20wilt%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Bthou%20not%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Bthou%20canst%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Bthou%20didst%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Bthou%20dost%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Bthou%20mayest%3B%2Cc0%3B%3Bthou%20be%3B%2Cc0

“Between you and I...”

  • June 2, 2014, 3:36pm

If one is talking about teaching a foreign language at school, the first question is what is achievable with a largish group in a few hours per week. Some countries also use English as a medium of instruction: this happens both at various 'international' schools and kindergartens, some mainstream schools, and at some universities eg Holland, Saudi Arabia.
The same is true of teaching grammar at school: one can hardly discuss it without setting out aims, goals, outcomes, and looking at the cohorts of students and their needs in this area.

“Between you and I...”

  • June 1, 2014, 11:34pm

Shot myself in the foot there: "she had been having affairs for quite some time" is really hard to translate; to me using past perfect continuous here suggests the affairs are mostly sequential not concurrent, a tricky concept to put across. Sometimes translating makes one more aware of one's own idioms.

“Between you and I...”

  • June 1, 2014, 8:28pm

I don't recall ever being taught English grammar as such, apart from when to put in an apostrophe before or after an 's', which really is just spelling. Tenses we were never taught.

All my grammar came from learning Latin, French and German (and Russian) at secondary school. When one has to render something like "she had been having affairs for quite some time, before her husband found out" into, well, any of the above tongues, one quickly learns how quirky English is.
I might add, as obiter dictum, that once one realizes that pre- or post-positions in other languages usually 'take' an oblique case (anything but the nominative/vocative) then it seems pretty clear that "between you and I" is ungrammatical. (And that 'me' in "give me some chips" is dative, not accusative).

Of course the case system endings in English are vestigal, but that is no good reason to be ignorant thereof.

No, I am not suggesting that schoolchildren should be forced to learn Latin; but one foreign language well-taught and well-learned is a gateway to a different culture and understanding and perhaps tolerance. Perhaps Arabic would be a good choice for children in England today.

In ESOL the proliferation of English tenses and modals, and their muddled uses present a significant hurdle at the intermediate stage. Curiously, in my experience, for most ESOL learners it is hard to master the usage of tenses and modal in class or from books. Those who have ample opportunities to pick it up the usage in everyday life often outperform mere book-learners. I guess that applies to native speakers too.

However in Britain today there are many non-native speakers at primary and secondary schools and maybe "English" classes need to be geared for their particular needs.
I have had to teach remedial English classes here for immigrant children who passed out of their final year at secondary school, but who still lack the basics of English structures. The issue here is that ESOL classes at secondary school are sometimes obliged to follow the mainstream curriculum leaving little time for ESOL itself. The other issue is that there is no placement according to English level, just by age, which leads to classes of very mixed ability and level, and outcomes.
I could go on.