Author Archives: Bryan A. Garner

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

way(s). In the sense “the length of a course or distance,” “way” is the standard term {a long way}. “Ways” is dialectal. So it’s surprising to find “ways” in serious journalism — e.g.: “This is premature, of course; Fox still … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: Miscellaneous Entries.

Miscellaneous Entries. verbatim; literatim; ipsissima verba. These apparent synonyms carry slight nuances. “Verbatim” = word for word. “Literatim” = letter for letter. Sometimes the phrase “verbatim et literatim” is seen. “Ipsissima verba” (lit., “the selfsame words”) = the exact language … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: waylay / waylaid / waylaid.

waylay / waylaid / waylaid. Occasionally the past tense or past participle is misspelled *”waylayed” — e.g.: o “Keggi’s career was waylayed [read 'waylaid'] in 1993 when she drank some bad water and was stricken with lingering symptoms from E-Coli … Continue reading

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LawProse Lesson #159: Were you “summonsed” or “summoned” to appear in court?

Were you summonsed or summoned to appear in court? Although summonsed isn’t downright wrong, in modern legal usage it’s much preferable to say that someone was summoned to appear in court. Summons as a verb dates from the 17th century. … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: water under the bridge; water over the dam.

water under the bridge; water over the dam. Both phrases allude to time gone by and events passed. What the latter phrase adds to the former is the connotation of missed opportunities — e.g.: o “Whether other prosecutions should have … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: watermark; water-mark; water mark.

watermark; water-mark; water mark. “Watermark” = (1) a line made by a body of water at its surface (as in a flood) and used to gauge the water’s depth; or (2) a faint identifying mark pressed into fine paper during … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: Language-Change Index.

Language-Change Index. The third edition of Garner’s Modern American Usage reflects several new practices. Invariably inferior forms, for example, are now marked with asterisks preceding the term or phrase, a marking common in linguistics. The most interesting new feature is … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: Miscellaneous Entries.

Miscellaneous Entries. veld /velt/ (= an open, nearly treeless grassland) is the standard spelling. *”Veldt” is a variant (chiefly in South African English). vendor (= one who sells) is the standard spelling. *”Vender” is a variant. “Vendor” is pronounced /VEN-duhr/, … Continue reading

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LawProse Lesson #158: Whether “whether” causes problems for writers.

Whether whether causes problems for legal writers. Yes, it does — in four ways: (1) in issue statements, (2) in the common misusage of if for whether, (3) in needless instances of whether or not, and (4) in the proper … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: wary; weary.

wary; weary. To be “wary” of something is to be on one’s guard against it: cautious, watchful, and perhaps worried. E.g.: “Consumers remain wary of anthrax sent through the mail.” Stephanie Miles, “Apparel E-tailers to Spruce Up for Holidays,” Wall … Continue reading

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