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

Miscellaneous Entries. the case of. This flotsam phrase is almost always best omitted. their; they’re. A book like this one need not explain such elementary distinctions. So it will not. But: “Liberals are again trying to explain why they lost their fifth presidential election in 20 years. They’ve been talking about what they’re [read ‘their’] party should be for.” “What’s a Liberal For?” Wall Street J., 13 Jan. 1989, at A6. Language-Change Index — “they’re” misused for “their”: Stage 1. *theirselves, though common in the speech of the uneducated, is poor English. It seldom appears in print — e.g.: “He encouraged those in attendance to be leaders, but to go beyond devoting theirselves [read ‘themselves’] to their careers to devote time to their family and personal lives.” “Brentwood Honors 5 Leaders,” Tennessean, 7 Oct. 1996, at F6. Language-Change Index — *”theirselves” for “themselves”: Stage 1. theism; deism. These denote different ways of believing in God. “Theism” = the belief in one God who created and guides the universe. “Deism” = the belief in one God who created but does not intervene in the universe. *Invariably inferior form. For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “There are some simple maxims . . . which I think might be commended to writers of expository prose. First: never use a long word if a short one will do. Second: if you want to make a statement with a great many qualifications, put some of the qualifications in separate sentences. Third: do not let the beginning of your sentence lead the readers to an expectation which is contradicted by the end.” Bertrand Russell, “How I Write,” in The Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell 63, 65 (Robert E. Egner & Lester E. Denonn eds., 1961).
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