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

Miscellaneous Entries. should; would. “Should” appears with the first, second, or third person to express a sense of duty {I really should go with you}; a condition {if Bess should call, tell her I’ll be back at 4 o’clock}; or an expectation {they should be here in five minutes}. “Would” appears with any of the three persons to express habitual practice {every day the golfers would start lining up at 6:30 a.m.}; a hypothetical {she would do it if she could}; or a preference {I would choose the maroon shirt}. “Should” takes the place of “would,” however, in idiomatic exclamations {I should think so!} {I should hope not!}. shouldn’t wonder. This phrase should be followed by an affirmative, not a negative, construction. That is, “I shouldn’t wonder if he were elected” is correct; *”I shouldn’t wonder if he weren’t elected” is confusing. shovel, vb., makes “shoveled” and “shoveling” in American English, “shovelled” and “shovelling” in British English. shovelful. The plural is “shovelfuls.” shovel pass; *shuffle pass. The words “shuffle” and “shovel” cause confusion in a term from American football: “shovel pass,” in which the ball is scooped or flipped forward underhand as one might shovel dirt or snow. Some sportswriters have wrongly written *"shuffle pass" — e.g.: “‘But as I’m watching, they’re doing something about our game with the Bills and they show Buffalo running a play on film — (Jim) Kelly throwing a shuffle pass [read ‘shovel pass’] to Thurman Thomas.'” “So They Say . . . ,” Austin Am.-Statesman, 13 Mar. 1994, at E2 (quoting Jimmy Johnson, then coach of the Dallas Cowboys). Language-Change Index — *"shuffle pass" for “shovel pass”: Stage 1. *Invariably inferior forms. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “If you want your point of view to be respected; if you want to avoid being brushed aside as opinionated and biased; if you want to get the attention of your reader, then you must be careful to shore up your arguments with facts, figures, and close reasoning. If you have the talent for it, you may get away with the illuminating flash of wit instead of close reasoning, but such wit is rare. There aren’t many Oscar Wildes among us.” Ernst Jacobi, Writing at Work: Dos, Don’ts, and How Tos 26 (1976).
Scroll to Top