Author Archives: Bryan A. Garner

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

etymology (2). Today: Native vs. Classical Elements. The English language has benefited from diverse sources. This diversity springs mostly from the English Renaissance, when writers supplemented what they considered a meager vocabulary by borrowing freely from foreign languages, mostly Latin, … Continue reading

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LawProse Lesson #181: Grammar and usage resources.

Grammar and usage resources. Which grammar books are most useful? People frequently ask this question. Perhaps the most compendious treatment can be found in my own chapter five of The Chicago Manual of Style (16th ed. 2010). That chapter, which … Continue reading

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

etymology (1). Today: English Etymology Generally. Etymology is the study of word derivations. Understanding etymology often leads to a greater appreciation of linguistic nuances. For example, “exorbitant” is Latin “ex-” (= out of, away from) + “orbita” (= a wheel … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: whilst.

whilst. “Whilst,” though correct British English, is virtually obsolete in American English and reeks of pretension in the work of a modern American writer — e.g.: “Whilst [read 'While'] I was on vacation last week, it seems the Bethlehem Police … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: vale of tears.

vale of tears. In this age-old idiom, “vale” means “world.” But writers have often mistakenly spelled it *”veil of tears” — e.g.: o “Edwin C. Daly left this veil [read 'vale'] of tears on Monday (April 15, 1996) at his … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: transpire.

transpire. The traditionally correct meaning of this word is “to pass through a surface; come to light; become known by degrees.” But that sense is now beyond redemption, though writers should be aware of it. Today, of course, the popular … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: Scylla and Charybdis, between.

Scylla and Charybdis, between. As described by Homer, Scylla /SiL-uh/ was a sea monster who had six heads (each with a triple row of teeth) and twelve feet. Though primarily a fish-eater, she was capable of snatching and devouring (in … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: regiment.

regiment. “Regiment” (= a military unit made up of several battalions) is coming to be misused for “regimen” (= a systematic plan designed to improve health, skills, etc.) — e.g.: o “Wealthy people plagued with weak nerves and ‘auto-intoxication’ flocked … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: premises.

premises. “Premises” (= a house or building) has a curious history. Originally, it denoted in law the part of a deed that sets forth the names of the grantor and grantee, as well as the things granted and the consideration. … Continue reading

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LawProse Lesson #180: Conjunctions as sentence-starters

There are certain bits of knowledge that distinguish connoisseurs from poseurs, professionals from dilettantes, cognoscenti from wannabes. In the realm of grammar and writing, it tends to be the sureness that sentence-starting conjunctions are perfectly acceptable and often desirable (connoisseurs), … Continue reading

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