More confusing words!

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 …

Leave a comment

Filed under Troublesome Words, Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s