This week we discuss a few more words that seem to mix people up: without and absent, because and since, and cannot.
First, when choosing between without and absent, without or “in the absence of” is preferred (unless you are using “absent” in a “not there” sense), e.g.,
- Without any compelling arguments against doing so, the trial court dismissed the jury.
- In the absence of any arguments against doing so, the trial court dismissed the jury.
- The scout was absent from his merit badge class.
Second, when choosing between “because” and “since,” keep in mind that “because” explains why—and “since” expresses time, e.g.,
- Because he attended four baseball games, Stephen didn’t go to the office.
- Since joining the firm, she has not lost a trial.
Finally, “cannot” should be used as one word, except when using a “not only” construction, e.g.,
- General rule: But in a larger sense we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow, this ground.
- Exception: Evie can not only research, but she can write, too.
Of course, the issue is avoided and the sentence reads more smoothly if “can” and “not only” are switched, e.g.:
- Not only can Evie research, but she can write too.
That is all for now …