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

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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

“went missing/gone missing”?

  • November 25, 2011, 8:28am

Well, Nancy, I'm sorry the idiom so upsets you, but like many idioms it appears to have ensconced itself in the English language (but in no other I'm aware of), so we might as well get used to it. I checked with Grammar Girl, and though she too is not fond of the usage, notes the following: "The reason went missing sounds strange to Americans is that it's a British idiom (1, 2). I've seen sources placing the first use of went missing as far back as 1944 (3), but my version of the Oxford English Dictionary places the first use in a 1958 book by British writer Norman Franks (4). The OED places gone missing in the same category as the phrase go native, which is used to describe a turn to or relapse into savagery or heathenism." ( So if one must place blame, put it on the Brits. Meanwhile, I suspect most of us will refrain from wincing upon seeing/hearing its use.

“went missing/gone missing”?

  • November 9, 2011, 9:49pm

Yes, Jimmy, they could have said that, but your version leaves open the possibility the two people took a hiking trip and later became missing. The "went missing during a hiking trip" leaves no doubt about the chronology; and besides, I kind of like the idiomatic "went missing"--it has a feeling of action about it that seems appropriate ;-).

“It is what it is”

  • October 19, 2011, 4:11pm

haston, your query about "Butter Face" intrigued me, as I'd never heard it before. So I checked UrbanDictionary dot com and found it's spelled there as one word, "butterface," and is indeed something you'd hear at the beach (at least from callow youths). It would apply to a female in a swimsuit (or whatever) who has a great body yet an unattractive face--that is, Everything's great but-her-face. So she's a "butterface." Males can be crude, but it is an interesting neologism--a noun fashioned from a phrase.

“It is what it is”

  • August 25, 2011, 10:48am

Matt P: Interesting observation, raising for me two questions: 1) As Sartre wrote in French, what exactly were his original words for "It is what it is," and 2) where in "Being and Nothingness does the expression occur? Oh, and a third question: Do you know if Bill Belichick ever read Sartre?

“It is what it is”

  • August 9, 2011, 9:17am

Thanks for your input, itiswhatitis. It's clear this expression means different things to different people, but your take is closer to what I've thought about its use than some of the other interpretations here.

“went missing/gone missing”?

  • July 1, 2011, 2:28pm

I think "went missing" is now common in reporting (print and other media) because it serves a purpose not easily fulfilled by other means. Consider this news item I found today at "Mystery surrounds why search teams have been unable to find a father and daughter who went missing during a hiking trip in the Colorado mountains, a Colorado sheriff said Friday." You might argue, what about "disappeared"? Well, technically we don't know if they vanished, but we do know that according to friends and family they are missing. I have no problem with this usage.

“It is what it is”

  • May 1, 2011, 9:48pm

Darn, Red, I was going to say that Patriots coach Bill Belichick was definitely the originator of the phrase, and I see you've already done that. My tongue would be in cheek, but it is quite possible we are both right. I'm pretty sure he was the first person I heard use the expression, as a response to, say, a question like "Coach, did your decision to call for that fake punt play a role in the loss today?" And since hearing it first from BB it seemed then to pop out of the mouths of numerous coaches and eventually players. I see it as a way of saying, "There might be any number of things to say about that, but some things you just can't explain, so let's just let it go."

The last time I heard the phrase used was by a cop called to an accident scene who discovered that the slightly injured party did not wish to file a complaint. The officer turned to the other party, shrugged, and said, "OK, it is what it is, I guess," and got back in his car.

Team names — singular or plural

  • July 22, 2010, 6:36pm

I agree with Steve - Kestrel Aerie. I started watching more soccer/football this year, and it really perplexed me to hear constantly the singular team names followed by plural verbs. Last night I watched on TV a match played in Boston's Fenway Park (between Celtic F.C. of Glasgow and Sporting C.P. of Lisbon), and I believe the two American announcers always used singular verbs with the club names (Celtic and Sporting). But then a very good source notes that although in the US singular verbs are commonly used with team place names (Boston, New York, Colorado), plural verbs are used with singular team names such as the (Miami) Heat and the (Utah) Jazz:
And this Wikipedia article is pretty thorough on Brit vs US differences, including verbs used with collective nouns:

Scyllacat, have you seen using sound as an aid to subject-verb agreement in any guide? I will admit "There is a pencil and three pens" sounds right, but then a lot of things that might sound right can be wrong (note for example today how many people say something like "The job will be done by Alice and myself"--it must sound right to them).

When a sentence begins with "There" and the choice of verb is "is/was" or "are/were," you simply restate the sentence with the actual subject(s) at the beginning. In this case, you would then say, "A pen and three pencils _were_ on the table." Or "Three pencils and a pen were on the table." Clearly "was" would be wrong. "There" holds the place for the subject, which in this case is plural. This is quite different from an "either/or" situation, where the verb should agree with the noun or pronoun closer to it. E.g., "Either the pencils or the pen was on the table."


“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