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

Computer mouses or computer mice?

  • December 2, 2010, 1:50pm

"Unless of course they are the sort of people who do not approve of prepositions at the end of sentences, when we do well to ignore them" --Stevens

This sort of rule monger-er seems to me the majority of those posting messages on this board. Of course the particular rule you mention is now disgraced, but there are plenty of others. Also, such people are hard to ignore as they are often in powerful positions.

Computer mouses or computer mice?

  • November 29, 2010, 3:46am

If we can survive with, "one sheep, two sheep," why can't we live with "one mouse, two mouse."

“Ten Items or Less (Fewer?)”

  • November 27, 2010, 8:28am

The English distinction between "mass nouns" (that take the "uncountable" adjectives such as "less" and "much") and the more common countable nouns that take "fewer" and "many" is a source of mischief to non-native speakers from languages that do not make similar distinctions. That many languages do without this distinction, and that even English seems to be abandoning it, persuades me that it serves no useful purpose.

"Ten items or fewer" strikes me as pedantic and just too, too correct. No marketer worth his salt would post such a thing. "Ten items or less" raises the ire of the typical pedant, so it is probably best to avoid committing the "error." The merchant is only left with avoiding the issue, which seems to have been the gist of many of the messages posted above.

Over exaggeration

  • November 27, 2010, 8:15am

I agree with you that "hyperbole" is better than "over-exaggeration," (which, as many pointed out, seems redundant and in bad taste). Also, to me as to you, "hyperbole" implies (since it is seen as a figure of speech) to be an honest exaggeration--no one is fooled by a statement so extreme as to be impossible.

There does, however, seem to be room for "over-exaggeration" as a way to describe an expression that is dishonest--seriously dishonest. The linguistic culture has invented the expression, and it rarely does so if there is no need. I think, though, than in that situation I would prefer "grossly exaggerated."

Resume, resumé, or résumé?

  • November 22, 2010, 3:05pm

"Richie's" advice is right on. There is no need to label one's CV. In fact, so doing so is a minor fault on a document that needs to be as perfect as possible.

I think "resume" is a French word, not an English word, and therefore should be spelled the way the French spell it, with the accent marks--and put in italics. In time it may be taken up into English, and Anglicized, but it hasn't been yet. (More likely it will fall out of use as pretentious and be replaced with "CV," or, better, something like "personnel summary.")

I understand the opposition to accent marks. The virtual absence of them in English is an advantage: typing goes much faster. Try typing Vietnamese, which is loaded with similar marks, to see the difference.

Does “Who knows” need a question mark?

  • November 22, 2010, 2:40pm

That we are breaking with unnecessary rules is cause for happiness, not sadness. Rules that achieve nothing except make pedants happy and allow people to consider themselves superior to others ("educated") are best abandoned.

The purpose of language is to communicate. Therefore, clarity is the only valid reason for having a rule. I will admit that social convention dictates most of the rules I follow, since I am aware of the prejudices about this subject, but I think they are diminishing.

Does “Who knows” need a question mark?

  • November 19, 2010, 5:55am

English is tending toward doing away with all the Victorian rules, and I think this includes the old rule that questions always require a question mark. If the sentence is obviously a question, then there is no need--the mark is in fact redundant. It is only when there is possible ambiguity ("You are happy," vs "You are happy?") that a special signal for an up-tone is needed.

Use of obscure words like “ebulliate”

  • November 5, 2010, 12:56pm

Use whatever word you need to use to best say what you want to say.

Obviously words no one recognizes are rarely going to be best, but there will be times . . ..

Whom are you?

  • November 5, 2010, 12:48pm

"Whom are you" is worse than overcorrection. It is simply wrong. In most of its meanings, the verb "to be" does not take an object but a predicate nominative, and therefore nominative rather than objective case.

This is the old rule; the new one seems to be to use the nominative before the verb and objective after it, regardless of the Latin rules. Hence, "It is I" is no longer preferred over "It is me."

In either case, "who is it" wins.

The rule I follow is to use capital letters and hyphens (and a lot of other things too) as little as possible. Therefore, "email." This is style choice rather than grammar--keep it simple.