Monthly Archives: October 2012

Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: sly.

sly. "Sly" (= wily, cunning, sneaky) preferably makes "slyer," "slyest," and "slyly." But some writers use the variant spellings *"slier," *"sliest," and *"slily" — e.g.: o "The land has been creeping slily [read 'slyly'] out to sea for the last … Continue reading

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LawProse Lesson # 93: The toughest spelling test you’ll encounter.

What are the most commonly misspelled legal terms? Spelling raises troublesome issues. It’s no more important, really, than dribbling is to basketball, short putts to golf, or personal hygiene to social relations. If you think they’re/there/their is a distinction you … Continue reading

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

slough (2). Today: Misspelled "sluff" as a Verb. "Slough off" (= [1] to shed an outer skin; or [2] to cast off, discard) is sometimes incorrectly written *"sluff off" (a phonetic spelling) — e.g.: "As he delves deeper into a … 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. skill-less – so hyphenated — is sometimes misspelled *"skilless." E.g.: "Regardless of what people think, it's not a skilless [read 'skill-less'] job," said a clerk at a West End Safeway. Mike Sadava, No Stores to Shut if Strike … Continue reading

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LawProse Lesson # 92

What’s the most common syntactical error that lawyers make? ANSWER: It has to do with appositives. Lawyers can’t seem to handle them. They cause problems in both phrasing and punctuation. So what’s an appositive? Garner’s Modern American Usage (3d ed. … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: slink / slunk / slunk.

slink / slunk / slunk. So inflected. *"Slank" and *"slinked" are nonstandard variants in the past tense and past participle — e.g.: o "The advent of the riders bruited by scurvid curs that howled woundedly and slank [read 'slunk'] among … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: sling / slung / slung.

sling / slung / slung. So inflected. As a past-tense form, "slang" is dialectal. As a past participle meaning "placed in a sling," "slinged" can be convenient, but it can also be startlingly ambiguous — e.g.: "Pediatric experts such as … Continue reading

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LawProse Lesson # 91

In The Winning Brief, why does Bryan Garner cite so many books on writing to support his 100 brief-writing tips? ANSWER: The whole purpose of the book is to counteract the sylistically wayward practices of inept brief-writers, from ill-constructed sentences … Continue reading

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: slew, n.

slew, n. "Slew" (= a large number), which most commonly appears in the phrase "whole slew," is sometimes miswritten "slough" (= a stagnant bogpronounced /sloo/) — e.g.: o "Watch for a whole slough [read 'slew'] of indictments to be issued … Continue reading

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