What do Chaucer, Einstein, and the Grammar Girl have in common? They begin sentences with conjunctions. And they are not alone. Continue reading
Pronouns are wonderful. No one wants to keep repeating someone’s name or a company’s title over and over if “she” or “it” will do the work. But problems come when the antecedent that the pronoun is replacing is missing, obscure, or ambiguous.
Ask yourself five questions to make sure your judges on appeal know who he, she, or it is. Continue reading
Appellate judges often say that they want concise briefs. But how to trim without losing meaning? One way is to watch when you say “of,” “in,” and “by.” Continue reading
Lawyers are bad about creating zombie nouns by burying verbs. In drafting a brief for an appeal, we never mediate or litigate; we always engage in mediation or litigation. We never examine a witness or object to her testimony; we conduct an examination and make an objection. And we don’t settle cases; we effectuate settlements.
We will throw a suffix on most anything, transforming a perfectly fine verb into a weak noun. Continue reading
What do Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy and horror-novelist Stephen King have in common? Both disdain adverbs. Lawyers who write appeal briefs may consider joining them. Continue reading