Friday, 1 May 2020


*English for Lawyers (EFL)*
(You might be shocked by how many words you've been very slightly misusing)
Whether you're trying to sound sophisticated or simply repeating what you've heard, word fails are all too common and can make smart people sound dumb. ▪️In his latest book, "The Sense of Style," Harvard cognitive scientist and linguist Steven Pinker explores the most common words and phrases that people stumble over....majority of the words and phrases he identifies are agreed upon and can help your writing and speaking.

*Here are the main ones to look out for:*

(1) Adverse means detrimental and does not mean averse or disinclined.

Correct: "There were adverse effects." / "I'm not averse to doing that."

(2) Appraise means to ascertain the value of and does not mean to apprise or to inform.

Correct: "I appraised the jewels." / "I apprised him of the situation."

(3) As far as means the same as but cannot be used the same way as as for.

Correct: "As far as the money is concerned ..." / As for the money ...

(4) Begs the question* means assumes what it should be proving and does not mean raises the question.

Correct: "When I asked the dealer why I should pay more for the German car, he said I would be getting 'German quality,' but that just begs the question."

(5). Bemused* means bewildered and does not mean amused.

Correct: The unnecessarily complex plot left me bemused. / The silly comedy amused me.

(6). Cliché is a noun and is not an adjective.

Correct: "Shakespeare used a lot of clichés." / The plot was so clichéd.

• (7) Credible means believable and does not mean credulous or gullible.

Correct: His sales pitch was not credible. / The con man took advantage of credulous people.

• (8) Criteria is the plural, not the singular of criterion.

Correct: These are important criteria.

• (9)Data is a plural count noun not, standardly speaking, a mass noun. [Note: "Data is rarely used as a plural today, just as candelabra and agenda long ago ceased to be plurals," Pinker writes. "But I still like it."]

Correct: "This datum supports the theory, but many of the other data refute it."

• (10) Depreciate means to decrease in value and does not mean to deprecate or to disparage.

Correct: My car has depreciated a lot over the years. / She deprecated his efforts.

• (11). Dichotomy means two mutually exclusive alternatives and does not mean difference or discrepancy.

Correct: There is a dichotomy between even and odd numbers. / There is a discrepancy between what we see and what is really there.

(12). Disinterested means unbiasedand does not mean uninterested.

Correct: "The dispute should be resolved by a disinterested judge." / Why are you so uninterested in my story?

•(13). Enervate means to sap or to weaken and does not mean to energize.

Correct: That was an enervating rush hour commute. / That was an energizing cappuccino.

• (14). Enormity means extreme evil and does not mean enormousness. [Note: It is acceptable to use it to mean a deplorable enormousness.]

(15). Flaunt means to show off and does not mean to flout.

Correct: "She flaunted her abs." / "She flouted the rules."

(16). Flounder means to flop around ineffectually and does not mean to founder or to sink to the bottom.

Correct: "The indecisive chairman floundered." / "The headstrong chairman foundered."

(17). Fortuitous means coincidental or unplanned and does not mean fortunate.

Correct: Running into my old friend was fortuitous. / It was fortunate that I had a good amount of savings after losing my job.

(18). Fulsome means unctuous or excessively or insincerely complimentary and does not mean full or copious.

Correct: She didn't believe his fulsome love letter. / The bass guitar had a full sound.

(19). Homogeneous is pronounced as homo-genius and "homogenous" is not a word but a corruption of homogenized.

Correct: The population was not homogeneous; it was a melting pot.

(20). Hone means to sharpen and does not mean to home in on or to converge upon.

Correct: She honed her writing skills. / We're homing in on a solution.

(21). Hot button means an emotional, divisive controversy and does not mean a hot topic.

Correct: "She tried to stay away from the hot button of abortion." / Drones are a hot topic in the tech world.

(22). Hung means suspended and does not mean suspended from the neck until dead.

Correct: I hung the picture on my wall. / The prisoner was hanged.

(23). Intern (verb) means to detain or to imprison and does not mean to inter or to bury.

Correct: The rebels were interned in the military jail. / The king was interred with his jewels.

(24). Ironic means uncannily incongruent and does not mean inconvenientor unfortunate.

Correct: "It was ironic that I forgot my textbook on human memory." / It was unfortunate that I forgot my textbook the night before the quiz.

(25). Irregardless is not a word but a portmanteau of regardlessand irrespective. [Note: Pinker acknowledges that certain schools of thought regard "irregardless" as simply non-standard, but he insists it should not even be granted that.]

Correct: Regardless of how you feel, it's objectively the wrong decision. / Everyone gets a vote, irrespective of their position.

(26). Literally means in actual fact and does not mean figuratively.

Correct: I didn't mean for you to literally run over here. / I'd rather die than listen to another one of his lectures — figuratively speaking, of course!

(27). Luxuriant means abundant or florid and does not mean luxurious.

Correct: The poet has a luxuriant imagination. / The car's fine leather seats were luxurious.

(28). Meretricious means tawdry or offensively insincere and does not mean meritorious.

Correct: We rolled our eyes at the meretricious speech. / The city applauded the meritorious mayor.

(29). Mitigate means to alleviate and does not mean to militate or to provide reasons for.

Correct: The spray should mitigate the bug problem. / Their inconceivable differences will militate against the treaty.

(30). New Age means spiritualistic, holistic and does not mean modern, futuristic.

Correct: He is a fan of New Age mindfulness techniques. / That TV screen is made from a high-end modern glass.

(31). Noisome means smelly and does not mean noisy.

Correct: I covered my nose when I walked past the noisome dump. / I covered my ears when I heard the noisy motorcycle speed by.

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