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Commonly confused words, Punctuation, Capitalization

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Angela Lindley

on 31 July 2014

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Transcript of Commonly confused words, Punctuation, Capitalization


Use "who" in place of "he" or "she."

Use "whom" in place of "him" or "her."
Commonly confused words and punctuation
"Which" is a
Their: Shows ownership.
work on the document will be done tomorrow.

They're: A contraction of "they are."
finishing the document by tomorrow.

There: A place.
The hearing will be held

Its: Shows ownership.
The motion is under consideration, and the hearing will decide

It's: A contraction of "it is."
The motion is under consideration, and the hearing will decide whether
approved or denied.

Affect/Effect, Lay/Lie
is almost always a verb (an action).
is almost always a noun (person, place, thing).

The outcome of the hearing will
our next steps.

The outcome of the hearing can have a number of

requires an object.
does not.*

(Present tense) I will
the document on your desk. ("Document" is the object.)
(Past tense) I
the document on your desk.
(Present tense) I need to
down for a bit. (There is no object.)
(Past tense) I needed to
down for a bit this afternoon.

*Note: This does not refer to "Lie" as in an untruth.
Less than/fewer
Use "fewer" when you're referring to something you can count.
Use "less than" when you're discussing hypothetical quantities -- things you can't count.

The firm has
employees than it did last year.

The settlement hearing took
time than anticipated. BUT: The settlement took
than 30 minutes.

The corporation has admitted to
of the allegations than we had hoped.

Words that are often used incorrectly
Towards (Not a word. Use toward.)
We are moving toward a resolution.

Entitled (This means "deserving of." Never use it to refer to a title.)
The volume is titled "Modern Legal Terminology."
He is entitled to due process.

Literally (Use only when you mean that something actually happened.)
The trial literally took two weeks.

Tricky Words
of these peaches
Each one
of these pencils
the pants or the skirt
will be fine
for the meeting.
of the boys
to play.

should come
to the picnic.
I invited
going to have a great time.
from our class

in going out?
in the group
going to like this.
Somebody should write
to City Hall.

might fall
and get hurt
No one received
an F on the exam.

These words
are singular...

each one
no one

Tricky Words
tweezers are
on the counter.
scissors are
very sharp.
pants/trousers are
at the cleaners.
My new

ready to be picked up.

These words
are plural...

Definition: words that imply more than one person but are considered singular and pair with a singular verb.

Collective Nouns
team runs
during practice.
committee decides
how to proceed.
family has
a long history.
family has
never been able to agree.
crew is
preparing to dock the ship.

I consulted an attorney whom I met in Washington.
You can substitute "her" for "whom," and the sentence still makes sense. (I consulted her.)

Who prepared the memorandum?
You can substitute "he" for "who," and the sentence still makes sense. (He prepared.)
Words that are often used incorrectly
Irregardless (Not a word. Use regardless.)
Regardless of the outcome, we will need to revise the contract.

Impactful (Not a word. Use "impact")
The Supreme Court's decision will have an impact on a number of our cases.

Other uses of quotation marks
I served the following “Defendant EQT Production Company’s Motion to Exclude Compromise Negotiations” with the Clerk of the Court.

Note: Do not introduce titles with a comma.

Quotation Marks:

We will discuss quotation marks as used to denote someone's exact words.

You can also paraphrase what someone says without using quotation marks. Paraphrasing means using your own words.
Quotation Marks
Other punctuation with quotation marks
Question marks, exclamation points, etc. can go inside or outside the quotation marks, depending on the context.

Here's how to tell: If the punctuation applies only to the quote, it goes inside the quotation marks. If it applies to the whole sentence, it goes outside.

Punctuation within quotes
Judge Cooper said, "This hearing will be rescheduled for May 30 at 3:30."

"This hearing will be rescheduled for May 30 at 3:30," Judge Cooper said.
Capitalization with
quotation marks
If quoted material is a complete sentence, capitalize the first letter.

She said, "The trial will last at least three weeks."

Do not capitalize the first letter if quoted material is a sentence fragment.

She said the trial would last "at least three weeks."

Quote: She said, "Will you please edit these documents by lunchtime?"

Paraphrase: She asked me to edit these documents by lunchtime.
Commonly confused words
Comas and periods at the end of a quote always go inside quotation marks, no matter what!
Did Judge Cooper say, "The hearing will be rescheduled"?

Here, the question mark is outside the quotes because the entire sentence is a question.

Judge Cooper asked, "Was that hearing rescheduled?"

Here, the question mark is inside the quotes because only the quote itself is a question.

Introducing quotations
Quotations that have a brief introductory phrase, such as "she said," or "he asked," should have a comma between the introductory phrase and the quoted text.

My manager asked, "Will you have the report ready by Friday?"

The e-mail said, "The meeting will be in room 204."

Do not introduce a quote with a comma when quoting a sentence fragment.

The judge said this hearing is "of extreme importance."

Colons and semicolons at the end of a quote go outside quotation marks, no matter what!
The attorney emphasized three things that were "extremely helpful" : patience, persistence, and accuracy.
ETT Production Company (hereinafter “ETT”)
Conquering Commas
The main uses
Use commas to separate independent clauses in a sentence when they are joined by any of these:
and, but, for, or, nor, so, yet.

The day was just beginning
, but
he was already tired.

The plaintiff seemed confused
, so
the attorney explained the procedure.

Yesterday was the deadline
, and
she completed the work on time.

Use commas after introductory words that come before the main part of the sentence.

Common starter words for introductory clauses that should be followed by a comma are
after, although, as, because, if, since, when, while.

I was working, the attorney met with clients.
the trial was delayed, everything had to be rescheduled.
you are ill, we'll need to move the meeting.
the counter-claim is finished, we'll review it.

Commas and introductory phrases
Commas and phrases in the middle of sentences
Use a pair of commas in the middle of a sentence to set off groups of words that are not essential to the meaning of the sentence.

To decide whether to use commas, ask these questions:

If you leave out the words does the sentence still make sense?
Does the clause, phrase, or word interrupt the flow of words in the original sentence?
If you move the words to a different position in the sentence, does the sentence still make sense?

If you answered "yes" to one or more of these questions, then the element in question is nonessential and
be surrounded by commas.

Here are some example sentences with nonessential elements that need commas:

That Tuesday,
which happens to be my birthday
, is the only day when I am available to meet.
This restaurant has an exciting atmosphere. The food,
on the other hand
, is rather bland.
I appreciate your hard work. In this case,
, you seem to have over-exerted yourself.

Commas and phrases using "that" and "which"
Do not use commas to set off groups of words essential to the sentence, such as clauses beginning with "that."

The volume
that I referenced for the counter-claim
is in the library.
The courtroom
that housed the hearing
was on the third floor.

Do use commas to set off groups of words that are non-essential to the sentence, such as clauses beginning with "which."

The trial
, which is scheduled for Wednesday,
may be postponed.

Commas and words in a series
Use commas to separate three or more words in a series.

The Constitution establishes the
legislative, executive, and judicial branches
of government.

The candidate promised to
lower taxes, protect the environment, reduce crime, and end unemployment

The prosecutor argued that the defendant,
who was at the scene of the crime, who had a strong revenge motive, and who had access to the murder weapon,
was guilty of homicide.

Commas and adjectives
Use commas to separate two or more words that describe the same noun, unless those words work together to describe the noun. Be sure never to add an extra comma between the final adjective and the noun itself. Also, do not use commas with words that work together to describe the noun.

Ask the following questions:

Does the sentence make sense if the adjectives are written in reverse order?
Does the sentence make sense if the adjectives are written with "and" between them?

If you answer yes to these questions, then the adjectives should be separated by a comma.

He was an
easy, likable
person to work with.
She often wore a
very warm
shawl in her office.
The meeting is scheduled in a
tall, red
building .

Commas in addresses and titles
Use commas between a city and state and after the state,
items in dates (except the month and day),
addresses (except the street number and name),
and around titles in names.

, WV,
is south of Pennsylvania.
The motion was dated
July 22, 2013,
and it was followed by a second motion on August 13.
The package is addressed 12515 H Street N.W.
, Washington, DC
Elizabeth R.
Welsh, Ph.D.,
will be the principal speaker at the meeting.

Use a semicolon (;) when you link two independent clauses with no connecting words, such as and, or, nor, for, but, if, so. For example:

The motion for a mistrial was accepted
; we
will debrief on Monday.
The snow was 8 inches deep
; the
office closed for the day.
The conference included lunch
; most
people enjoyed the food.

Semicolons, continued
Semicolons can also join two independent clauses together with a semicolon and one of the following:
however, moreover, therefore, consequently, otherwise, nevertheless, thus

I am editing the report
; moreover,
I intend to be finished by 4 p.m.
It rained heavily during the afternoon
; however,
we managed to have our office cookout anyway.
The attorneys will be out this afternoon
; therefore,
I will use the time to refresh my grammar skills.

Apostrophes (') have two main uses:

To form possessives of nouns (the book was

To show the omission of letters by making contractions (
can't, isn't, doesn't

Apostrophes used to show possession
add 's to the singular form of the word (even if it ends in "s"):
The lease's duration
Mr. Hess's hearing
The industry's standards

add 's to the plural words that do not end in "s":
The women's motion
The children's family

add ONLY ' to the end of plural nouns that end in "s":
Two attorneys' schedules
The clients' e-mails

add 's to the last noun to show joint possession of an object:
Smith and Fowler's oil lease
Apostrophes used to make contractions
A contraction is a word (or set of numbers) in which one or more letters (or numbers) have been omitted. The apostrophe takes the place of what has been omitted. Contractions are common in speaking and in informal writing.

don't = do not
I'm = I am
he'll = he will
who's = who is (this does not show possession; whose is possessive)
shouldn't = should not
didn't = did not
could've= could have (NOT "could of")
'64 = 1964

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