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

June 17, 2010

Total number of comments


Total number of votes received



Retired, did some college English teaching and other things. Lived many years in a state often used as a comparison in discussing a rather large but not gigantic entity, e.g.: The oil spill now covers an area the size of Rhode Island. Now live in the green state of Vermont.

Latest Comments

For what it's worth, it's nice to see that Grammar Girl agrees with those of us who see "from" as essential for good English: (" If you go around saying you graduated college, you sound illiterate. The correct way to say it is that you graduated FROM college.")

As an update on this topic, at today's NBC News site I found these two headlines on the front page: "As their children graduate college...." and "Teen who lost mom in tornado graduates from high school". So today's copy editors randomly use one or the other (I've seen the same thing in newspapers). I would use the "from" version myself, but as time passes and I see more and more that omitted I fear the idiom is becoming ingrained. Can full acceptance be far behind?

“in regards to”

  • April 4, 2013, 9:21am

"in regards to" and "with regards to" has always grated on my ear, as I've always thought of "regards" as something you give (as per George M. Cohan's song, "Give My Regards to Broadway"). So I'm glad to see that the source cited prohibits those phrases from "Edited English." Sadly, though, in everyday English it now appears rampant, especially in American English. Witness a quote today of our former defense secretary Leon Panetta: "...we don't have as much insight as we should with regards to the inner workings of what happens in North Korea." Why the plural form of a noun that has served perfectly well in the singular has become so popular is a mystery to me.

“It is what it is”

  • January 30, 2013, 8:52pm

RGB, I think your second post about Lennon lyrics is a good find, as it seems to fit perfectly the sense of the expression we've been discussing. But that website's attribution to "an Austrian poet in 1983" is woefully off base. I found mention of two published occurrences in 1970 and one in 1949 here:

“It is what it is”

  • December 8, 2012, 7:28pm

@Warsaw Will: Thank you for your contributions here, which are a hell of a lot more helpful than those of HDD, who is probably, as my son suggests, just a troll, and as you guess also a follower of British tabloids.

I wasn't familiar with the term "synesis" although the concept is quite clear. I guess it shouldn't be surprising that we all tend to accept as normal and correct what we've heard all our lives. But I still think that reasonable speakers of English might agree that if a collective noun in a certain context clearly indicates a group acting as one, as a single unit, then a singular verb is called for.

Take for example my sport example, "Arsenal are signing a new striker this week." I know I've seen statements like that reading British football (soccer to us) reports, but just now I started to google that sentence and when I got as far as "Arsenal are" the suggestion popped up "Arsenal are a selling club," which clause appears in a blog by one Thomas Hallett. Now I can see where when you're talking about the team on the field how the plural verb makes sense (even if I wouldn't use one myself). But Arsenal as a sports entity, making business decisions? To me that's a unit with no bodies involved, no image of a group of individuals doing different things as on a playing field. For me "Arsenal are a selling club" is quite unlike "Arsenal come streaming forward now in surely what will be their last attack" (which I also just found through Google). The latter I can live with, but the former bugs me.

But hey, differences like this make the world an interesting place, right?

“It is what it is”

  • December 7, 2012, 9:32pm

We owe a debt of gratitude to hot diggedy dayum for bringing a refined British perspective to the discussion. If I might though, as a mere American, register a couple of quibbles about his erudite comment. First, although the original poster mentions African American lingo from the 1960s as a possible source for "It is what it is," neither he nor anyone else here mentions or even implies this has to do with Ebonics--and no one bitches or moans about this possible original use. Second, I think that most posters here are US residents (sorry, this was decided for most of by our parents), and we come to this site because we care about how people use the language. Third, I suspect that most of us avoid saying "different than," but "oftentimes" is in fact a coinage from the 14th century, according to a reputable source, and while it apparently is frowned upon by certain English folk it is quite acceptable here in the States ( Now, hot-diggedy, if you'd care to enlighten us poor Americans as to the British rationale for acting as if collective nouns always take plural verbs (as in "Arsenal are signing a new striker this week"), we should be most grateful.

“and” or “but” followed by a comma

  • September 17, 2012, 11:44am

@Cymrie: According to what I learned in numerous English classes and what I see at online grammar sites, a sentence like my "The team are running around and falling all over themselves" IS correct grammar. Just one example: "The team are always fighting amongst themselves" at It's ironic that you question using plural verbs with collective nouns, as that's exactly what I've questioned in British media writing ("Stoke have confirmed the signing of Michael Owen").

Your rewrite of my "team" sentence, using the singular verb, strikes me as odd, raising an image of a mass of players somehow falling as one unit. Again, although my example is correct it sounds awkward, so a better rewrite would be "The guys on the team are running around and falling all over themselves." (But now I need to add that fans of the New England Patriots would not want to hear that repeated, after their most recent loss.)

“and” or “but” followed by a comma

  • September 8, 2012, 3:48pm

JohnsonJackson: I agree it doesn't "sound right," even though it's perfectly correct English, probably because we'd rather hear "The guys on the team are running around and falling all over themselves" (unless you're a Boston Red Sox fan, in which case you'd be sick and tired of hearing stuff like that).

My mystification is over the fact that British English seems to have done away with the notion that a collective noun should take a singular verb when the noun refers to a group acting as one. Or perhaps that's just the case in writing or speaking about sports teams?

“and” or “but” followed by a comma

  • September 6, 2012, 9:05pm

Thredder and id: I guess if you've always heard something said one way, it'll sound OK. I was taught that collective nouns (like team, and by extension I think, a team known by its city's name) take either a singular or plural verb, depending on a (usually) simple test: Is the group acting as one or as many? "The team is doing well this season" vs "The team are running around and falling all over themselves." Or, if you will, "Stoke has confirmed" because it's an organization acting as one entity.

I have never seen (that I recall) any use of the plural verb in the US press in reference to a team named in part for its city or region: "Boston needs to consider firing Valentine" not "Boston need to consider." "The Yankees have signed Joe Blow" but "New York has signed." Seems a useful distinction to me!

“and” or “but” followed by a comma

  • September 4, 2012, 8:46pm

Oh, Welid, the Brits! Here in the US we try to avoid comma splices but they (you?) just keep using them ;-). If one checks the Wikipedia entry on the comma splice, one finds this: "Although acceptable in some languages and compulsory in others, comma splices are usually considered style errors in English." Along with Strunk and White, I do not like them (except in the sort of uses mentioned as exceptions in the Wikipedia piece).

And while we're talking about US vs British English, is it universal in GB now to use the plural verb form for all collective nouns, or is it just for sports? For example, in today's online Guardian: "Stoke have confirmed the signing of Michael Owen on a one-year-deal...." Grates on my ear!


“and” or “but” followed by a comma June 29, 2012
“Over-simplistic” September 12, 2013
“Based out of”: Why? November 19, 2013
agree the terms March 29, 2017