Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: Miscellaneous Entries.

Miscellaneous Entries. would. Writers often use “would” to condition statements that really ought to be straightforward — e.g.: “I would submit to you [read ‘submit to you’] that very few presentations end with the audience saying, ‘Well, that presenter really beat our brains out. He thrashed us good and proper.'” Ron Hoff, “I Can See You Naked” 58 (1992). (A better revision: “Very few presentations end with the audience . . . .”) wreath; wreathe. “Wreath” is the noun {a Christmas wreath}, “wreathe” the verb {they plan to wreathe the door in garlands}. writ large. In this archaic cliché and in Omar Khayyam’s “The Moving Finger Writes” — but nowhere else — “writ” (for “written”) survives. E.g.: “Religion . . . is cheapened even more when it is mixed with pre-game military exercises — the baseball cap’s ‘God, Guns, and Guts’ message writ large.” L.T. Anderson, “Public Prayer Needs Limits,” Charleston Daily Mail (W. Va.), 24 Sept. 1997, at C1. wrong; wrongful. The distinction is important. “Wrong” = (1) incorrect; unsuitable {the quoted figures were simply wrong} {it was wrong of us to expect them so soon}; or (2) contrary to law or morality; wicked {cloning just to get human organs is wrong}. “Wrongful” = (1) characterized by unfairness or injustice; contrary to law {Iraq’s wrongful aggression against Kuwait}; or (2) (of a person) not entitled to the position occupied {the wrongful officeholder}. wrongly; wrong, adv. Both are proper adverbs; “wrongly,” which is less common, appears before the verb modified {the suspects were wrongly detained}; “wrong” follows the noun {he answered the question wrong}. *wroth (= angry) is an archaism — e.g.: “Ms. Eckert seemed to be quite wroth [read ‘angry’] with me, though if her theory . . . is accurate, she should be delighted with my work.” Jack Kenny, “‘Mean-Spirited Columnist’ Hopes to Take Own Advice of Lightening Up,” Union Leader (Manchester, N.H.), 25 July 2001, at A4. The word is most often seen in the set phrase “wax wroth” (= to become angry), which can be easily simplified — e.g.: “Pfeiffer has a ropy vein at her left temple that, when she waxes wroth [read ‘gets angry’], throbs noticeably.” Leah Rozen, “Picks & Pans: Screen,” People, 21 Oct. 2002, at 43. *Invariably inferior form. For information about the Language-Change Index click here. Quotation of the Day: “If paragraphs come in their natural order, you will easily make them follow one another smoothly. Your handling of the subject will show you how to smooth the transition from one paragraph to the next.” Eric Partridge, English: A Course for Human Beings 147-48 (1949).
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