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

November 30, 2011

Total number of comments


Total number of votes received



Latest Comments


  • November 30, 2011, 5:56pm

'A pedantic old curmudgeon' eh? ;) Nice! Wouldn't that make everyone else the curmudgeons if you're the pedantic?

Well - in learning more about physics and all - when flying, apparently the shortest distance is not a straight line. Go figure :P

I can understand and respect your holding on. I do the same, but my point of origin is farther down the line of time than many others, thus my 'proper English' is in fact not. Funny how this tends to go on through the ages. Makes me ponder the idea that there's no such thing as perfect English to begin with, since it's such a bastard/mongol language in that it incorporates everything from everyone else.

I remember growing up constantly frustrated by the use of 'an' before a word beginning with h. An horse, an house. Drove me bonkers! I was told it's 'Queen's English' and that it's the more formal proper form of the language spoken in England. In my junior year of high school, we read Pygmalion. In the back of the book were excerpts from similar books. One stood out to me: it was a father teaching his son about animals, they come across a hedgehog. He tells his boy "That's an edgeog. It's two words really: edge and og and they both start with an aitch." Then I pondered the idea that the 'Queen's English' came from the common working-class colloquial English. You would say 'an horse' and 'an house' if you didn't pronounce the h in the first place.
Ahh, my love/hate relationship with my native tongue. Plenty of other languages don't have these problems you know. ;)

God only knew

  • November 30, 2011, 5:39pm

I believe it rests on the premise that God is all-knowing, all the time. So anything He ever knew, He always did know, knows now, and will forever know. It's similar to the quote "before Abraham was, I am." While that conflicts with tense in English syntax, it is seen as a correct statement because that is His forever state of being. Consider it the 'perfect tense' form. So, regardless of when an event took place, God only knows what happened.
Also gives the impression that everyone else has forgotten (or died) and God is the only one left who really knows what went on. Also that He's the only unbiased source; the only one with a purely objective view of things.

What can I do besides...

  • November 30, 2011, 5:18pm

To answer the original question of why: What can I do besides complaining sounds wrong because can and complaining conflict in their tense. You can complain. You can't complaining. You can *be* complaining. (Although it occurs to me I haven't got it quite right... 'do' could be the operative word... but you can't 'do complaining' either). Would what can I be besides complaining work?

Either way, complain is an action, complaining is a state of being. That is why your in-ear English radar picked up on it. Both can and do imply action. What can I do besides living? That just doesn't work. What can I do besides live? Much better.

(Note that you can replace all instances of 'besides' with 'but' and I'm fairly certain that all that I have said will still stand true)

Though I do it myself often, conjunctions are not a proper way to begin a sentence. The word 'but' is my favorite to rule-break with, but it is still incorrect. That is, unless you are quoting (as always, because it's perfectly acceptable to expose the ignorance of others). And, I fully agree with dogreed (yes, I did that on purpose). The semicolon replaces any conjunctions. I shot the sheriff, but I didn't shoot the deputy. I shot the sherrif; I didn't shoot the deputy.

As for usage, I don't think it's purely aesthetic. The two thoughts have to be related, or using it would not make sense. And when I'm reading, I treat a semicolon as less abrupt than a period. It's as if a period is a red-light. Long stop. A semicolon is a stop sign. If no one is coming, you slow down to a roll, but most people don't fully stop unless they have to (maybe a better analogy is an unmarked intersection, or flashing yellow). And a comma is like a yield sign. You can keep going if it's clear. ;)

Backward vs. Backwards?

  • November 30, 2011, 4:58pm

And in regards to that, I'll kindly keep my mouth shut ;)


  • November 30, 2011, 4:56pm

"United States of American"? Really? It would at least be "United States American". In any case, I see nothing wrong with saying U.S. American. How hard is it to add a half-second prefix? Yet another testament to this country's monumental laziness. I have both heard and seen other inhabitants of this particular island refer to themselves (or others) as 'American' when they do not reside within the borders of the U.S.A. Similarly, 'Native Americans' don't have to have originally (or currently) reside within the states. The Aztecs were a native people to the continents of America, thus they are Native Americans. It's not politically correct, it's logically correct.

The most common usage that I have come across is when someone from Peru, another from Brazil, and a third from Argentina are identifying themselves as a group (though I typically see it in larger numbers than that) then they say that they are 'Americans'. That is, they are from the continent of (South) America.

But again, we in the U.S. of almighty A. think that since we're so great and since it's the only term for us, we should be entitled to use it exclusively, and everyone else better shut the hell up.

With a minimal amount of context, I doubt it would be unclear which type of American is being referred to. Just find out if they're arrogant, self-serving, lazy, or obese (or any combination) and you're sure to have found a resident of the U.S.A. ;)

Ok, ok. Maybe that's a bit harsh. Thankfully this problem only exists in English (what a lovely language).

always wanted to be

  • November 30, 2011, 4:42pm

Ing: your examples actually point to the idea that the sentence immediately preceding the one in question has more to do with it than the timeline. When you say 'He is happy' since 'is' is present tense, then in the following sentence you use 'has wanted' which is also the present tense of a past (and supposedly current as well) notion. If you change your second example to be: He got the letter yesterday. He was happy. He had always wanted. then I don't think you could use 'has always wanted' in that case.
I'll still agree that the first sentence has a lot to do with what you say in the second (you likely wouldn't say he got a letter in 1980 and he is happy immediately afterwards). But I think that timeline has less to do with it than the voice that's being used.
What I learned in school is tense agreement. You can't simply change from past to present whenever you feel like it.

“8 inches is” or “8 inches are”

  • November 30, 2011, 4:36pm

To answer the original question simply: it just depends on whether you intend '8 inches' to be seen as a whole, or as 8 separate individual inches. These 8 inches between you and I are the longest 8 inches ever! 8 inches is the closest anyone has come to winning.

Bob: I think the reason for that is that the name of the team is generally applied to each member (you can call the quarterback *a* Bronco) whereas the team (and the city as AnWulf mentioned) are considered a non-plural group of plural individuals. Not sure that I've seen or heard anyone treat Jazz and Heat the same way (and other singular sounding team names).

Perfect Pedant: I believe that JJMBallantyne was using 'ov' to describe a verbal pronunciation rather than a written word.

Jor: The words would've could've and should've are contractions of would have could have and should have. There is no usage in which would of would ever be correct (at least none that I can think of, and even if there were, I assure you that it would not be the meaning intended by these visually offensive occurrences we come across). the ending 've represents have, not of, and can't be used for point've view. That's just nonsense. I have never seen a separate context which you mention for would of - I have only encountered it where it should be would have.

“enamored with” and “enamored by”

  • November 30, 2011, 4:02pm

I'm not sure which is correct, but I have always known the use of 'enamored by'. Most likely by reason of porsche's definition. Enamored of sounds really odd to me (but that could just be due to my limited experience).
Colloquially I hear 'enamored by' most often. I don't hear 'enamored with' hardly ever, and I never hear 'enamored of'.


watch much stuff? April 18, 2012