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

couple (2).

Today: For “a few.”

As a noun, “couple” has traditionally denoted a pair. (As a verb, it always denotes the joining of two things.) But in some uses, the precise number is vague. Essentially, it’s equivalent to “a few” or “several.” In informal contexts this usage is quite common and unexceptionable — e.g.:

o “Those most anxious should practice at least once in front of a couple of people to be comfortable with an audience.” Molly Williamson, “Unlocking the Power ...

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: Run-On Sentences (1).

Run-On Sentences (1).

Today: The Definitions.

Run-on sentences do not stop where they should. The problem usually occurs when the writer is uncertain how to handle punctuation or how to handle such adverbs as “however” and “otherwise,” which are often mistakenly treated as conjunctions.

Some grammarians distinguish between a “run-on sentence” (or “fused sentence”) and a “comma splice” (or “run-together sentence”). In a run-on sentence, two independent clauses — not joined by a conjunction such as “and,” “but,” “for,” “or,” or ...

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

Miscellaneous Entries.

resister; resistor. “Resister” = one who resists. “Resistor” is the electrical term.

resolution; motion. These terms carry distinct meanings in parliamentary procedure. When a deliberative assembly passes a “resolution,” the assembly is formally expressing its opinion about something — but no official action is taken. But when an assembly member raises a “motion,” the assembly is considering a formal proposal for action — and if the motion carries, the action will be taken.

resolvable; *resolvible; resoluble. “Resolvable” is far more common ...

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: roofed.

roofed.
“Roofed,” not *”rooved,” is the correct form — e.g.:

o “These new state farms and cooperatives — clusters of tin-rooved [read ‘tin-roofed’] huts nestling in valleys — have been attacked repeatedly by the rebels.” Peter Ford, “What War Means for Nicaragua’s Peasants,” Christian Science Monitor, 10 July 1987, Int’l §, at 1.

o “Salt is in a deep valley, with flat-rooved [read ‘flat-roofed’] houses built into the hillsides, where protesters took up position, leaving the police at a severe disadvantage.” Alan ...

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: rein; reign(2).

rein; reign (2).

Today: “hold the reins.”

“Rein” and “reign” are also confused in the noun forms: one holds the “reins,” not the “reigns.” E.g.:

o “Ron Low has a hold of the Oilers’ reigns [read ‘reins’] for now, but should he not work out, look for former Canucks and Flyers coach Bob McCammon to take over as coach next season.” Roy Cummings, “Old Pros Attempt to Regain Past Glory,” Tampa Trib., 16 Apr. 1995, Sports §, at 4.

o “Now, Tony ...

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Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: registrate.

registrate.

“Registrate” is an ill-conceived back-formation from “registration,” the verb “register” being standard — e.g.:

o “Listeners can qualify by registrating [read ‘registering’] at various local sites.” “Tuned In,” York Daily Record, 10 May 1994, at 1.

o “Those interested must apply and be interviewed before registrating [read ‘registering’] for the class.” “Hospice Training Scheduled,” Richmond Times-Dispatch, 28 Feb. 1996, at M8.

It is true, however, that “registrate” is correctly used when denoting the setting of pipe-organ stops. But this usage is rare ...

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

Miscellaneous Entries.

rebus (= [1] a representation of a word or phrase by pictures or symbols, such as a drawing of an eye for “I”; or [2] a riddle using these pictures or symbols) forms the plural “rebuses,” not *”rebi.”

rebut; refute. “Rebut” means “to attempt to refute.” “Refute” means “to defeat (an opponent’s arguments).” Thus one who rebuts certainly hopes to refute; it is immodest to assume, however, that one has refuted another’s arguments. “Rebut” is sometimes wrongly written *”rebutt.”

receivables (= ...

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