Author Archives: Bryan A. Garner

Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: judgment.

judgment. Part A: Spelling. “Judgment” is the preferred form in American English and in British legal texts, even as far back as the 19th century. “Judgement” is prevalent in British nonlegal texts and was thought by H.W. Fowler to be … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: Illogic (4).

Illogic (4). Today: “Times Less Than.” Brand Y may cost twice as much as Brand X, but that doesn’t mean Brand X is twice as cheap as Brand Y. Farburg may be two times as far away as Nearville, but … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: Illogic (3).

Illogic (3). Part A: Danglers and Misplaced Modifiers. Every dangler or misplaced modifier perverts logic to some degree, sometimes humorously — e.g.: “I saw the Statue of Liberty flying into Newark.” To avoid these disruptions of thought, remember that a … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

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

Illogic (2). Today: Illogical Comparisons. This lapse occurs commonly in locutions such as “as large if not larger than,” which, when collapsed, becomes “as large than”; properly, one writes “as large as if not larger than.” Similar problems occur with … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

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

Illogic (1). Today: Logic vs. Idiom. Anyone who would dare drag logic into a discussion on language must do so warily. For centuries, grammarians labored under the mistaken belief that grammar is nothing but applied logic and therefore tried to … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

LawProse Lesson #179: “As such”

As such. Have you noticed the epidemic of poor usage involving as such? In this phrase, such is a pronoun requiring an antecedent. Here are two examples: Ex.: The lawyer did not intend to write a derogatory review of the … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: hoi polloi.

hoi polloi. “Hoi polloi” = the common people, the masses. Because “hoi” in Greek means “the” (plural), “the hoi polloi” is technically redundant. But the three-word phrase predominates and ought to be accepted. What shouldn’t be accepted, though, is the … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: fortuitous; fortunate.

fortuitous; fortunate. Strictly speaking, “fortuitous” means “occurring by chance.” E.g.: “Unless the victim dies, the law cannot assume that the transgressor really meant to kill — even though whether the victim lives or dies might be entirely fortuitous.” Jerome H. … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: especial; special.

especial; special. Traditionally, “especial” (= distinctive, significant, peculiar) is the opposite of “ordinary” {the press is usually given especial access}. “Special” (= specific, particular) is the opposite of “general” {this community has special concerns}, though increasingly “special” is driving out … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: diffuse; defuse, vb.

diffuse; defuse, vb. To “diffuse” something is to disperse it from a single source. To “defuse” is to make something threatening safe, especially a dangerous situation or a bomb (by deactivating it). “Diffuse” can have very different connotations, depending on … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment