Author Archives: Bryan A. Garner

Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: Zeugma (2).

Zeugma (2). Today: Erroneous Uses. Sometimes zeugma is a kind of grammatical error, as when a single word refers to two or more words in the sentence when it properly applies to only one of them. One type, the nontransferable … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: Zeugma (1).

Zeugma (1). Today: Witty Uses. This figure of speech, literally a “yoking together,” involves a word’s being a part of two constructions. Sometimes it results in a grammatical error, but sometimes it’s simply a felicitous way of phrasing an idea. … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: Miscellaneous Entries

Miscellaneous Entries zombie; *zombi. The first spelling so predominates today — 500-to-1 in a 2008 LexisNexis search — that the original term is almost a lifeless corpse. *”Zombi” derives from “nzambi,” the Bantu name of a West African python deity … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: yours.

yours. “Yours,” an absolute possessive, is sometimes wrongly written *”your’s” — e.g.: o “‘So, when’s this big party of your’s [read 'yours'] happening?’ asks the salesman.” Peter Goddard, “Imperial Esso Man Still Slick as Ever,” Toronto Star, 5 Aug. 2000, … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: your.

your. “Your,” the possessive form of the second person, is sometimes misused for “you’re,” the contraction of “you are.” Often, as in the second example below, the error is that of the journalist who reports speech: o “Just saying your … Continue reading

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LawProse Lesson #177: “Whoever” vs. “whomever.”

Whoever vs. whomever. Like who and whom, whoever and whomever can be tricky for both lawyers and nonlawyers. Here are a few guidelines that should help: If the word completing the syntax after -ever is a verb, and the -ever … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: you can’t eat your cake and have it too; you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

you can’t eat your cake and have it too; you can’t have your cake and eat it too. The second phrasing, now the more common one, is sometimes stigmatized: “The first form makes sense: once you’ve eaten the damned thing, … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: yoke; yolk.

yoke; yolk. “Yoke” = (1) a twice-curved, usu. wooden beam with U-shaped brackets beneath to enclose the necks of two oxen or other draft animals {after a struggle, the oxen were fitted into the yoke}; or (2) a pair of … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: Miscellaneous Entries

Miscellaneous Entries zetetic; *zetetick. The adjective meaning “proceeding by inquiry or investigation” is preferably spelled “zetetic” (OED & W3). The Center for Scientific Anomalies at Eastern Michigan University publishes a journal called The Zetetic Scholar, devoted to the skeptical analysis … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: yet.

yet. Part A: Beginning Sentences with. Like other coordinating conjunctions, “yet” is perfectly acceptable as a sentence-starter. It’s a rank superstition to believe otherwise. E.g.: o “Yet if a student can — and this is most difficult and unusual — … Continue reading

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