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 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 passion. Learn More



Member Since

November 5, 2010

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Latest Comments

Whom are you?

  • February 9, 2011, 10:54am

Are you serious? This is the 21st century. Thurber?

I tell you what--I will remember what he says in case I ever have to talk to Gladstone.

Does “Who knows” need a question mark?

  • February 9, 2011, 10:40am

I think you are incorrect in telling me that I should have used "though" where I used "but." Your "correction" is not a correction but a change in the meaning. I said what I intended to say.

Otherwise, beyond being an assertion that you like grammar rules, you give us no supportive argument except your taste. Obviously your view is a popular one, so I will repeat: there is no good reason for a grammatical rule except to avoid unintended ambiguity. That we are usually better off using good taste in our writing is an aesthetic call, not a grammatical rule.

To the question at hand (must "who knows" take a question mark), I point out that the textbook rule is to attach the question mark to the end of actual questions (not even indirect questions) . Therefore, our statement should not take such a mark unless (unlikely) the expression is stated as in fact a question, not an exclamation or dismissal.

However, things being what they are, I would not mark down a student for failing to follow this rule. The indoctrination to put a question mark at the end of every sentence that has the form of a question, regardless of whether or not it actually is a question, is just too strong and not worth the effort.

The only real use for the question mark in English is not to indicate questions but to tell the reader they should end the sentence with an up-tone (required in English for yes-no questions). However, many readers react against authors who fail to follow the question-mark rule they were taught, so usually I accept the prejudice and follow their silly rule. However, the rule is for actual direct questions, not for other things that may have the form of a question.


  • February 9, 2011, 9:56am

It is plain to me that the "self" in "self-confessed" is redundant. The above efforts to justify it don't address the simple fact that no one other than oneself can confess.

If there is a single word for anything with a bad flavor, I would suggest avoiding it, as I also suggest avoiding the word "malodour." "Bad taste," and "bad smell" do the job, and anything else smacks of synonym searching.


  • February 9, 2011, 9:43am

"Signage" as a plural for "sign" when we have the perfectly normal word "signs" available strikes me as about as far from clever as one can get--all the way to stupid.

I think, though, that this may be being misread. When some advertising type refers to the "signage" of a retailer, it is not a reference to its signs (in plural) but to its general mass of signs (arrangement, coordination, plan, whatever). Indeed, the "signage" of a given place might consist of only one sign.

---"To lie only requires that the speaker not tell the truth."

I dunno; seems to me if a person thinks something is true, even though they are mistaken, saying what one thinks is not lying. The concept of the lie seems to me to carry within it the intent to mislead.

Friendly - adjective and adverb?

  • December 26, 2010, 4:02pm

I think, regardless of whether it is "right" or "wrong," the word "friendly" used as an adverb is awkward and "friendlily" can't even stand up for drunkenness. Therefore recast the sentence to avoid the issue.

Neither of has have really addressed the question---is it possible to lie without misleading. All we have said is that it is possible to mislead without lying.

The initial question is, I think, philosophical, not grammatical. As with a lot of philosophy, definitions are needed that go beyond the dictionary meanings.

subconscious vs unconscious

  • December 25, 2010, 9:40am

If one sits quietly and watches oneself think, without trying to control the stream of thoughts, one can observe several things. First, the thoughts seem to be loosely---sometimes very loosely---connected to previous thoughts, or to various outside stimuli (sensations---sounds, itches, scents, aches, what-have-you).

Second, thoughts do not come from nowhere. There does seem to need to be a causal chain.

Third, the thoughts come welling up unbidden, from "somewhere" (usually called the subconscious, as though giving it a name tells us anything).

Finally, you quickly lose the notion of watching yourself and you go into a daydream.

I don't know what profound conclusions one can draw from all this, but one thing is sure. None of it happens when you are unconscious.

The two words are synonyms, but "to mislead" is broader and includes "to lie" in its range. One can however mislead without telling an outright lie, such as by omitting pertinent details.