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



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January 2, 2011

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Latest Comments

Sarah - misleading someone is not necessarily unintentional. Someone can tell a person something with the intention of misleading them or deceiving them.


  • January 9, 2011, 4:29pm

It would indeed. And just because they're obsolete it doesn't necessarily follow that they should be expurgated from the language. Just imagine if they removed all the words that "access" is replacing.

Back to affectatious for a moment; did Shakespeare make it up because he was stuck for an existing word to fit? He did, after all, coin quite a few new words to suit his purpose.

"My son has decided to call his newly born son Theodore. I think this is affectatious – middle class elitist twaddle." Why not "…this is an affectation on his part…"?

But thinking about it again, I rather like affectatious.

Why are some single objects plural?

  • January 8, 2011, 11:45am

Forkin' hell. What have I done? You're drawing a long bow here, porsche. It is colloquial, by the way. But back to your reasoning: does this mean the back forks are three in number? Or two? Or more? Should they rightly be called the back triangles and the back forks?

Why are some single objects plural?

  • January 7, 2011, 11:42am

Well you could try looking up some references. Pair of twins or two twin boys/girls – you haven't heard it? You should listen to some of the news broadcasts round here.

A pair of trousers is singularly interesting if you'll pardon the pun - trews (frae which the English word comes) like breeches (and the Norse/Germanic breeks) were leggings, one for each leg, held up at the waist by ties – somewhat in the manner of modern-day chaps (colloquial abbreviation for US chaperejos from the Mexican/Spanish chaparreros from chaparra) and there's a word to conjure with, it spawned a heap of children – and the response to your trouser remark is in the pun.

Where are you quartered, Ian? (See headquarters.)

English is fascinatin' stuff, ain't it?

Why are some single objects plural?

  • January 6, 2011, 5:49pm

Grammarians whose job it is to compile texts on the subject. A fork, in, of or on anything, is singular. A fork in the road – though it may have several over its length and though colloquially we take the left or right fork in some countries. A hay fork, a garden fork, a forked stick, a forky deer and a table fork are all singular no matter how many tines, clefts, branches or prongs they may have. The front fork on a bicycle, though colloquially often referred to as "the forks", is still a singular word and a single structure.
"Forks on a bike" may be commonplace but in the grammatical sense to speak of the front forks on a bicycle is wrong because forks is the plural of fork. It's like saying "she gave birth to a pair of twins", common in speech but not right.

Why are some single objects plural?

  • January 6, 2011, 3:14pm

It is indeed incorrect, strictly speaking, but common usage gives it credibility in dialect/colloquial language. One does take the left or right fork of a fork, though again, strictly speaking, it's incorrect. An eating fork has several tines, as do a forky deer's antlers. In the US they speak of a fork in a river and then take the left or right branch. If we wanted to be really super correct and pedantic we would take the left path [of the road], in the same way that when we come to a crossroad we would go straight ahead or take the left or right path.

Words don't achieve correctness by being in a dictionary – dictionaries simply record the way words are used during the period of that particular edition, often with supplementary lists of words that may be changing their meanings. Thee, thou and thine are still in the dictionary though only poets now use them – which is a shame since they add affection to language.

Why are some single objects plural?

  • January 6, 2011, 11:33am

Christ on a crutch, Ian; don't come down the ladder! The OED doesn't comment on the correctness or otherwise of usage – that's for other references – but records a word's existence.

There's heaps of everyday terms (and there's one right at the beginning of this sentence) that are accepted as, or thought to be, correct when in fact they're not; and the whys and wherefores of each would make an interesting study in itself. As I wrote before, "Boys' [and Girls'] School" when part of a proper noun; "Children's Hospital" ditto; an hotel/hypothesis/historical, ad infinitum. Strictly speaking, forks is incorrect when we speak of the front forks of a pushbike, but it's in the dictionary because it's in common use.

The reason I like to play with these things is that I find language fascinating, especially dialect, spelling variations and colloquialisms – and the bait's cheap.

Why are some single objects plural?

  • January 5, 2011, 6:03pm

Okay - the OED paper version gives fork as [chiefly] US, forks as Australian and English. A pair of forks would properly refer to the back and front fork or two of each, and just because the manufacturer's brochure calls them forks (if they are indeed referring to the singular) doesn't make it correct – how many times have you seen XXX Boys' School on the front of a school building? – unless of course the catalogue has several pages of front and back forks. A fork is something that by its nature has two (or more) tines or prongs and to say "a pair of forks" makes for tautology. You could, colloquially speaking, buy a set of forks – or a pair – for your treadly, but it is incorrect grammatically. Incidentally, I grew up in Western Australia using forks to mean the things on the back and front of a bike and still do – and if I'm writing colloquially I'd use it, but not otherwise. The USA retains many quaint and sometimes archaic anglicisms in its dialect. Close to where I live is a place named "The Forks of the Elkhorn" which is beautifully correct.

Why are some single objects plural?

  • January 5, 2011, 9:50am

Well, you could try the OED for a start. Do you have any evidence that forks is grammatically correct rather than just the colloquial use?


  • January 2, 2011, 12:52pm

Affectatious is obsolete and has pretty much been replaced by affected anyway. Of course your character should say 'dahling' if you want her to – she's your creation – and there's no need to add "in an affected accent" or anything else, the dahling says it all, unless of course you want to imply that she puts on the dog, but I presume you would have done that when you introduced her.

Incidentally, listen closely to the way people speak. It can help your writing a lot. To my ear, women – and camp fellers – tend to pronounce it 'dhahling'.