20 Grammar Mistakes You Should Stop Making

Lawyers are egregious when it comes to mixing up which and that—probably because the former sounds more lawyer-y. But most could use a good refresher on whether and if, too. And nor and farther v. further and … well, just read this. (Hat tip to Lifehacker.)

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  • 4ALAW LAWYER

    I have frequently seen errors in spoken and written form of the word ‘bought’ compared with the word ‘brought’. And it is annoying when the people who use brought instead do think that they know better!

  • http://www.passthebaton.biz/ Susan Gainen

    For lawyers who live and die by the correctness of their language, close attention to grammar and meaning should be a no-brainer. There should be no push-back, no whining, and no grumbling about “picky points of grammar.”

    Until contracts and other legal documents can be read to mean what you meant to write and not the words that you actually used, law students and lawyers will need to continue to pay close attention to their writing, and to the meaning of the words that they use.

    Thanks for this post, Sam.

  • http://www.fssp-law.com/attorneys/nye/ Jeff

    I pay close attention to what and how I write, and I wish more other people did. But some of these are wrong. For example, “moot” does not mean “open to discussion”–at not least in Ohio, where I primarily practice. According to the Ohio Supreme Court, “moot” DOES mean “unnecessary” or “superfluous.” The Court has even used “moot” in that context the Rules of Appellate Procedure.

    The author states that “impactful” isn’t a word. Really? If someone says “impactful,” is there any doubt about what they mean? The author protests that it’s a “made-up buzzword,” and while I despise “buzzwords” as much as the next guy, all words were “made up” at some point. You can argue that it’s unnecessary, or cacophonous, or any number of other things, but you can’t credibly argue that it’s not a word. I am very aware that we are not all Shakespeares, but the world would be a much worse place than it is today if people didn’t coin new words and phrases from time to time.

    • http://lawyerist.com/author/samglover/ Sam Glover

      While moot has come to mean unnecessary or superfluous, it’s true that it also has the older (and rarely-used) meaning open to discussion.

      As for impactful, just because you know the meaning doesn’t make it a real word. See irregardless.

      • http://www.fssp-law.com/attorneys/nye/ Jeff

        I agree that “moot” has the older and rarely used meaning of “open to discussion” in certain contexts (moot court, for example). But the piece you linked to argues that “moot” means ONLY “open to discussion.” That’s wrong generally, and it’s wrong specifically in terms of (at least) Ohio law.

        As to “irregardless,” I in fact do not have any idea what that means and I do remain mystified by it. “Impactful” is qualitatively different. It’s an awful word, and one which I would never use. But I do know what it means, and I think most everyone else does too, and to say that it’s “not a word” strikes me as both substantively wrong and elitist. (Though I note with some amusement as I write this that the spell-checker in my browser recognizes “irregardless” as a word, but does not recognize “impactful.”)

        • http://lawyerist.com/author/samglover/ Sam Glover

          If we lawyers cannot be elitist about language, then what can we do?

  • Tom Seeley

    For another great resource, check out the book Woe is I by Patricia T. O’Connor. Been a desktop staple for me since my days as a newspaper editor