Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: substantive.

Part A: Pronunciation. “Substantive” — a commonly mispronounced word — has three, not four, syllables: /SUHB-stuhn-tiv/. The common error in American English is to insert what is technically known as an epenthetical “-e-” after the second syllable: /SUHB-stuh-nuh-tiv/. Still another blunder is to accent the second syllable: /suhb-STAN-tiv/. Language-Change Index — “substantive” mispronounced with four syllables: Stage 2. Part B:. For “substantial.” “Substantial” is the more general word, meaning “of considerable size, quantity, or importance; real; ample.” “Substantive” is more specialized, appearing most often in old-fashioned grammars (in which “substantive” means “noun”) and in law (in which it serves as the adjective corresponding to “substance” and as the antonym of “procedural” {substantive rights}). Some writers misuse “substantive” for “substantial” — e.g.: “Facing a $290 million deficit this year, L.A. is hard pressed to meet the cops’ demands for a substantive [read “substantial”] raise.” “Mayhem as a Negotiating Tactic,” Newsweek, 28 Mar. 1994, at 7. Language-Change Index — “substantive” misused for “substantial”: Stage 1. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “There is such a torrent of words threatening to engulf us now that nobody should add to it unless it’s absolutely necessary. . . . [Marshall] McLuhan may be right that the predominance of printed communication has passed its peak. The written word is steadily losing ground to the combination of spoken word and picture.” Ernst Jacobi, Writing at Work: Dos, Don’ts, and How Tos 19 (1976).
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