Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: tenet

tenet. “Tenet” (= a doctrine or basic belief, dogma) is sometimes confounded with the similar-sounding “tenant” (= [1] one who has a leasehold, a lessee; or [2] an inhabitant, dweller). The result is linguistically untenable — e.g.: o “The Clinton legislation, which embraces many of the tenants [read ‘tenets’] supported in education legislation passed in the Bush Administration, calls for the reconfiguration of American public schools.” William Celis III, “Annenberg to Give Education $500 Million over Five Years,” N.Y. Times, 17 Dec. 1993, at A1, A15. o “This new view is called ‘community-based conservation.’ One of its fundamental tenants [read ‘tenets’] is that trust is central to devising long-term solutions to environmental problems.” Pete Geddes, “Building Trust and Respect in the West,” Seattle Times, 3 July 1996, at B5. o “[Robert Blake] said the church’s fundamental tenant [read ‘tenet’] is ‘creation of man, fall of man, redemption through Jesus Christ.'” Brian Morelli, “New Nondenominational Christian Church at UI,” Iowa City Press-Citizen, 24 Aug. 2007, at A3. Language-Change Index: “tenant” misused for “tenet”: Stage 2. For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “A writer who hates the actual writing is as impossible as a lawyer who hates the law or a doctor who hates medicine . . . a writer who hates the actual writing, who gets no joy out of the creation of magic by words, to me is simply not a writer at all.” Raymond Chandler, Letter to Hamish Hamilton (19 Sept. 1951), in Raymond Chandler Speaking 92, 92 (Dorothy Gardiner & Katherine Sorley Walker eds., 1962).
Scroll to Top