Author Archives: Bryan A. Garner

Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: lay waste.

lay waste. The traditional idiom is an unusual one: either “they laid waste the city” or (a variant form) “they laid the city waste.” “Lay” is the verb; “city” is the object; and “waste” is an adjective serving as an … Continue reading

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

Miscellaneous Entries. jail; gaol. The first is the American spelling; the second is the British variant. Both words, of course, are pronounced /jayl/. janissary (= a loyal, subservient follower) is the standard spelling. It is capitalized only when used to … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: layman; layperson; lay person.

layman; layperson; lay person. “Layman” is the most common among these terms and is commonly regarded as unexceptionable — in reference to members of both sexes, of course. E.g.: o “James Wilkinson, the 55-year-old layman who carried the cross at … Continue reading

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Adopt-a-Bobble-Bryan program 2015

On January 12, 2015, 20 Bobble Bryans will be looking for good homes. (Yes, for the first time ever, we’re selling the already-legendary Bryan Garner bobblehead for $500 each.) All profits will go to the Campaign for Equal Access to … Continue reading

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LawProse Lesson #192: Client confidences.

Ethical communications for lawyers: Client confidences.      Trustworthy. That’s how every client should describe you. Keep all client confidences—and make it a habit to keep all confidences in everyday life. The law doesn’t make an exception for spouses or … Continue reading

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LawProse Lesson #191: Nonrepresentation letters.

Ethical communications for lawyers: Nonrepresentation letters. Although the attorney–client relationship is ordinarily a consensual one, the consent is not symmetrical: if a client reasonably relies on the existence of a relationship when the lawyer does not intend one, a court … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: lay; lie (3).

lay; lie (3). Part C: “laid” for Past-Tense “lay.” The “lay”-for-”lie” error also occurs with the past-tense forms — e.g.: “He laid [read 'lay'] down flat on the ground and looked around for an object or landmark he might have … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: lay; lie (2).

lay; lie (2). Today: “lay” for “lie.” This is one of the most widely known of all usage errors — e.g.: o “If you’ve got an extra $79,800 laying [read 'lying'] around you could become the proud owner of two … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: lay; lie (1).

lay; lie (1). Today: The Distinction. Very simply, “lie” (= to recline, be situated) is intransitive — it can’t take a direct object {he lies on his bed}. But “lay” (= to put down, arrange) is always transitive — it … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: lawyer; attorney; counsel; counselor.

lawyer; attorney; counsel; counselor. The two most common among these, “lawyer” and “attorney,” are not generally distinguished even by members of the legal profession — except perhaps that “lawyer” is often viewed as having negative connotations. Thus one frequently hears … Continue reading

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