More Confusing Words!

In a post last year, we went over some words that seem to confuse a lot of people. Today, we will look at a few more.

Adapt – to adjust to something. He will adapt to living in a new state.

Adept – proficient. She was adept at crocheting.

Adopt – to choose. They will adopt the more frugal lifestyle.

 

Adverse – harmful; hostile. The counsel was particularly adverse on that issue.

Averse – opposed to. She was averse to the alcohol at every meeting.

 

Advice – information; recommendation. The advice of the lawyer was to pay the fine.

Advise – to recommend; to give counsel. The lawyer advised her to gather all her documentation.

 

Already – previously. She had already been to Barcelona.

All ready – all prepared. But she was all ready to go to Cannes.

 

Alternate – substitute; to take turns. He was the alternate on the firm’s bowling league.

Alternative – one of several things from which to choose. She chose the pink purse as an alternative to the black purse, which was out of stock.

 

Anyone – anybody. He said that anyone could do her job.

Any one – Any one person in a group. Any one of them could have answered the phone.

 

Beside – by the side of; separate from. The dog was well trained and walked beside him when he was on the leash.

Besides – in addition to; also. Besides the insurance benefits, the new job also offered a profit sharing plan.

 

Born – brought into life. The baby was born on February 29.

Borne – carried; endured. The weight of the box was borne equally by the two men.

 

Breach – a breaking; a violation. By accepting her business, there was a breach of his contract.

Breech – the hind end of the body. The baby was born breech first.

 

Breath – respiration. She could not catch her breath after running from the building.

Breathe – to inhale and exhale. It was difficult to breathe with the smoke in the air.

 

Broach –to open; to introduce. He was afraid to broach the subject of a raise with his boss.

Brooch – ornament. Her grandmother’s brooch was definitely an antique.

 

Cannot – usual form meaning to be unable. He cannot lift 50 pounds.

Can not – two words in the phrase “can not only” (where “can” means “to be able”). She can not only play soccer, but she also plays softball.

 

Canvas – a course cloth. The tent was made of canvas.

Canvass – to solicit. The volunteers for the mayoral candidate canvassed the neighborhood asking for donations.

 

Caret – a wedge shaped mark. Some of the Latin capital letters have a caret over them.

Carat – a unit of weight for precious stones. She had a two carat diamond in her wedding ring.

Karat – A unit of fineness for gold. His ring was 14 karat gold.

 

I hope you learned something from this list. We will go into even more confusing words in another post.

If you have words that confuse you or have another question that you come across while proofreading, please email proofthatblog@gmail.com.

 

 

Grammar Giggle – Starbucks _ _ _ _ _ (Fill in the Blank)

Proofreading isn’t only important on paper and it isn’t only spelling. It’s making sure the functionality of whatever you are putting your work on doesn’t accidentally change what you say–sometimes to fairly disastrous consequences. As much as it pains me to share this picture because of my love of Starbucks, it does illustrate an important point.

Starbucks

Search and Replace or Search and Destroy

We all know that word processing software comes with many useful features. There is a danger, however, in depending too much on the software. Here are some examples:

  • Spell check. As I’ve mentioned before, spell check absolutely has its uses, but is not the only (or necessarily the best) proofreading method. One example I’ve given before is “doe snot” instead of “does not.” They are both spelled correctly, but one is definitely not correct. Do not rely exclusively on spell check.
  • Grammar check. This feature is useful for catching some issues, but cannot possibly be accurate with every grammar resource, so be careful not to just accept all of the software’s “advice.”

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  • Search and replace. While this certainly has its place in searching and replacing something like a misspelled name, you must be very careful using global search and replace. Think about the danger–say you wanted to search for the word “plain” and replace it with the word “normal.” The issue appears where other words might contain the search term. For instance, in this case, if your document included the word “plaintiff,” the global search and replace would change that word to “normaltiff.” While entertaining, that is obviously not correct. If you want to use search and replace, you should review the suggested replacements before they are made.

These suggestions may not make your writing easier, but it should help you be more accurate from the beginning of the process.

Grammar Giggle – Presidents Day

Happy Presidents Day! I’m assuming this school was talking about the holiday honoring ALL of the U.S. Presidents and not just one President. Remember, with apostrophes you start with the correct word–in this case, “Presidents” because you’re talking about all the Presidents–and then make it possessive by adding an apostrophe (and an “s” if necessary). NOTE: various sources disagree about whether the apostrophe belongs at all. Since the apostrophe denotes possession and the holiday is to honor U.S. Presidents and not a day that belongs to those Presidents, no apostrophe is probably more correct. In any event, this school sign is obviously incorrect.

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Capitalization in Legal Documents

A reader asked about capitalization in legal documents. It sounds like it should be simple but research shows lots of people have their own ideas about what should be capitalized. The Gregg Reference Manual says there is no uniform style for capitalization in legal documents, but common practice is to capitalize key terms such as the parties and the type of document you are working on. Since we’re talking about legal documents, I checked The Bluebook (19th ed.). Here is a quick breakdown of capitalization “rules” according to both sources:

Court – The word “court” is capitalized in these instances:

  • Always when referring to the United States Supreme Court
  • Always when the name of the court is spelled out, i.e., the United States District Court.
  • When your document is talking about the specific court that will rule, i.e., “We ask the Court to rule in favor of the Plaintiff”
  • Do not capitalize the word “court” when talking about a ruling in another case, i.e., “The court in Roe ruled . . .”

Parties – When referring to the parties in your particular document, capitalize their designation:

  • “The Plaintiff files this Reply in Support of Motion to Dismiss.”
  • However, “The defendant in Smith v. Jones used the unclean hands defense.”

State – Capitalize the word “state” in these instances:

  • When it is part of the full name of the state, i.e., the State of California
  • When the word it modifies is capitalized, i.e., the State Education Director
  • When referring to the state as a party to the litigation or as a governmental actor, i.e., “The State filed its Answer on January 14, 2014.”

Titles of Documents – When referring to a document that has been filed in the same matter in which you are filing your document:

  • In the Motion to Dismiss, Plaintiff alleges . . .
  • Under the Court’s February 10, 2014, Order . . .

As for other defined terms in legal documents, I personally think it is much clearer if a term is defined and then capitalized throughout:

  • ABC Corporation (“Corporation”) hereby agrees . . .
  • The doctors employed by St. Joseph’s Hospital (“Doctors”) . . .

This can be tricky when a defined term is used in describing another case. Only capitalize the defined term in YOUR case. If you can substitute the full name of the defined term, you can capitalize it. For instance, using our definition of “Corporation” above:

  • “At all times relevant hereto, Corporation was engaged in business in the state of Arizona.” Here, “. . . ABC Corporation was engaged in business . . .” is correct since you are talking about the defined Corporation.
  • HOWEVER–“In Smith, the corporation was engaged in the business of providing license plate holders through Internet sales.” Note that in this example, the corporation you are referring to is a corporation in the Smith case, not ABC Corporation.

The same basic rule applies to defined documents:

  • In its Motion for Summary Judgment (“Motion”), Plaintiff is attempting . . .. The Motion is untimely.

One thing I did learn is that in legal documents using Bluebook style, words in headings are capitalized except for articles, conjunctions, or prepositions of four or fewer letters unless they begin the heading. This is different than the Gregg style for regular writing. See Things Are Coming to a Head[ing]!

What rules do you have for capitalization in legal documents? Please share them in the comments.

 

 

Grammar Giggle – Recipe Rock

I found this one while shopping with friends. Not only should “hand written” be one word, but they’ve actually managed to accomplish my number one pet peeve and used an apostrophe for a plural.

Recipe Rock