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Connections Count Part I: Generic Transitions, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff 2018 Concordia University School of Law

Connections Count Part I: Generic Transitions, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Transitions serve an important function in any piece of writing: they connect the ideas in sentences and paragraphs and show the reader how lines of reasoning are advancing. These simple words let the reader know when to expect more detail or when to expect a different topic or when to expect a counter-point.

There are three basic types of transitions: generic, orienting, and substantive. We will look at generic transitions this month. [excerpt]


Creating Clarity: Careful Use Of Contronyms, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff 2018 Concordia University School of Law

Creating Clarity: Careful Use Of Contronyms, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Contronyms were not among the categories of “nyms” I learned as a child. I know all about synonyms, homonyms, and antonyms. So I was surprised when I recently learned about contronyms. Contronyms are words that are their own antonyms (in fact, they are sometimes called autoantonyms). That’s right, the same word can have two opposing or contradictory meanings. Think of dust. Dust can mean to add fine particles to something: The plane was dusting the field. Or it can mean to remove fine particles. I needed to dust my office after the windstorm. Because contronyms have contradictory meanings, writers ...


Know Your Audience: Writing To Non-Lawyers, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff 2018 Concordia University School of Law

Know Your Audience: Writing To Non-Lawyers, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

I spend a lot of time in my classroom teaching my students about audience traits and expectations. We learn about how legal readers read and use documents and how we can better prepare our writing to meet the purpose and expectation. This is the norm in the legal academy. Practically, however, that means many attorneys leave law school with great training for writing to judges and attorneys, but not necessarily great training on writing to clients or non-lawyers. So this month we will focus on a few tips to help you better craft your writing to meet the non-lawyer’s ...


Creating Separation And Emphasis In Your Writing Part I: Joining Independent Clauses, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff 2018 Concordia University School of Law

Creating Separation And Emphasis In Your Writing Part I: Joining Independent Clauses, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Independent clauses each have a subject and a verb and could stand alone as a grammatically correct sentence. For instance, “I enjoy walking on the beach,” “I disliked the hot humid weather,” and “I presented at a legal writing conference in Florida last summer” are all independent clauses. Each idea is a complete package; it has a subject and a verb and can function as a sentence. How I link them together with punctuation, however, can subtly change their meanings and shift the emphasis for the reader. It can also help the reader better understand how my ideas are related ...


Five Tools For Writing Fixes: Stocking The Legal Writer's Toolbox, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff 2018 Concordia University School of Law

Five Tools For Writing Fixes: Stocking The Legal Writer's Toolbox, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Add a desk book, grammar guide, usage dictionary, writing text, and citation manual to your toolbox, and you’ll find that your writing goes much more smoothly. [excerpt]


E-Editing: Time Saving Tips, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff 2018 Concordia University School of Law

E-Editing: Time Saving Tips, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

... I don’t trust computer programs to ensure that I have error free documents. I do, however, trust them enough to use them to my advantage. I have, over time, created a series of steps I use to help me proof and edit my work. Use this simple editing checklist with your word processing program to save time and move one step closer to error-free documents. [excerpt]


Confusing Word Pairs: Part Ii, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff 2018 Concordia University School of Law

Confusing Word Pairs: Part Ii, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Way back in the January 2012 edition of The Advocate I introduced you to my inner grammar noodge by discussing confusing word pairs. Several readers gave me suggestions for pairs that had confused them, and since then I’ve fielded more than a few questions from both students and readers about the difference between certain words. I recently realized that I had enough material to have a Confusing Word Pairs: Part II. Here are more confusing word pairs explained and some tips to help you use the correct word when writing or editing[--imply/infer, then/than, principal/principle, disinterested ...


Creating Separation And Emphasis In Your Writing Part Ii: Using Punctuation Within Sentences, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff 2018 Concordia University School of Law

Creating Separation And Emphasis In Your Writing Part Ii: Using Punctuation Within Sentences, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

The ideas legal writers want to express are often complex. Words and ideas within sentences must be defined or explained. Because of this complexity, many sentences in legal writing contain interrupters — words that break from the main idea of the sentence. These interrupters can be set off with dashes, commas, and parentheses. The choice of which mark to use depends on how much emphasis you want to draw to the interrupter. [excerpt]


Crafting Clear, Correct Sentences, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff 2018 Concordia University School of Law

Crafting Clear, Correct Sentences, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

We writers tend to make fairly predictable errors, so learning a few simple fixes can greatly improve our sentences. Here are six faults you can eliminate to fix your sentences: redundancy, repetition, subject-verb separation, misplaced modifiers, dangling participles, and unparallel phrasings. [excerpt]


Conjunction Junction: Making Conjunctions Function For You, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff 2018 Concordia University School of Law

Conjunction Junction: Making Conjunctions Function For You, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

... [T]o help you better understand how to make conjunctions function, let’s take a look at coordinating conjunctions, correlative conjunctions, and subordinating conjunctions to connect ideas. [excerpt]


Five Tips To Combat Verbosity, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff 2018 Concordia University School of Law

Five Tips To Combat Verbosity, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Another member of The Advocate Editorial Board recently sent me a trial court’s order directing the movant to file a new motion that concentrated on eliminating verbosity. While I’m sure the attorney who received this order (which included the judge’s redlined suggestions!) was humiliated, we shouldn’t wait for a judge’s invitation (or humiliation) to combat verbosity in our writing. Instead, we should take every opportunity to write better sentences. Wordy sentences tend to be filled with poor constructions that break the readers’ concentration, forcing them to stop and decipher our meanings.... The principle to writing ...


Back To Basics Iii: Noun-Sense, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff 2018 Concordia University School of Law

Back To Basics Iii: Noun-Sense, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

... [T]his month, I bring you noun-sense. Let this column help you better understand both the basics and a little beyond the basics of how nouns function[--cases, participles, phrases, and clauses]. [excerpt]


Back To Basics, Part V: Adjectives, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff 2018 Concordia University School of Law

Back To Basics, Part V: Adjectives, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

In grammar terms, an adjective is a word that modifies a noun or pronoun. You might have learned that it’s a 'describing word' back in elementary school. Adjectives tell the reader what sort, how many, what size or whose. Adjectives can also be used to add more detail to a noun. [excerpt]


Back To Basics Ii: Parts Of Speech, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff 2018 Concordia University School of Law

Back To Basics Ii: Parts Of Speech, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

In English, we classify words into eight parts of speech: noun, pronoun, verb, adjective, adverb, preposition, conjunction, and interjection. These classifications are based on how a word functions within a sentence, not necessarily on the word itself. Think about the last time you looked up a word in a dictionary— remember how a single word could be both a noun and an adverb, for instance....

When a word trips you up as you write or edit a sentence, you just might have a problem with its usage as that part of speech. So, we will look briefly at each of ...


Back To Basics: Subject And Verb Agreement, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff 2018 Concordia University School of Law

Back To Basics: Subject And Verb Agreement, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

For simple sentences, agreement usually isn’t a problem. You can depend on how the sentence sounds to ensure your subject and verb agree. 'The professor requires all students to be in class prior to its start time.' Here the singular subject professor takes a singular verb requires. Easy! That just sounds correct .... Legal writers need to create more complex sentences, so relying on our ears won’t always steer us in the right direction. Agreement becomes trickier when subjects become more complex, and writers need to understand some basic agreement rules. [excerpt]


Adding Eloquence To Your Legal Writing With Figures Of Speech, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff 2018 Concordia University School of Law

Adding Eloquence To Your Legal Writing With Figures Of Speech, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

While it would be great if the email to a client could be more eloquent, it might not be worth the time. But other types of writing benefit from added eloquence.

Indeed, an eloquent brief is more persuasive. Yes, writing must first be clear, correct, and readable. And yes, the arguments themselves must be persuasive and supported by the law. But presentation matters.

Using rhetorical devises can convey your meaning in a more vivid and meaningful way. Using certain figures of speech can also motivate the decision maker to see the outcome your way. So, this essay will cover simile ...


Capitalization Conundrums Clarified, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff 2018 Concordia University School of Law

Capitalization Conundrums Clarified, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

The trend in writing in general is to capitalize less, even though as legal writers we tend to capitalize more. This can lead to tension when writing: When should I capitalize certain words? And, many of us learned capitalization rules as children, only to see them thrown out the window when reading opinions. What, then, are we to do when faced with a capitalization conundrum? ... Follow these simple tips to eliminate many of those pesky capitalization questions. [excerpt]


A Pro's Woe: Overcoming Writer's Block In A Hurry, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff 2018 Concordia University School of Law

A Pro's Woe: Overcoming Writer's Block In A Hurry, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Even though attorneys spend much of their lives writing, we are not immune to writer’s block. Some of us have triedand- true methods for overcoming these slumps, but even then there might be times when the go-to trick that has worked in the past fails to put words on the page. So for this month we are going to look at some tips for overcoming even the worst episodes of writer’s block. [excerpt]


Attaching People To Their Problems: Eliminating Passive Voice And Vague -"Ing" Words From Your Writing, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff 2018 Concordia University School of Law

Attaching People To Their Problems: Eliminating Passive Voice And Vague -"Ing" Words From Your Writing, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Legal writers often unknowingly use the passive voice or vague –“ing” words to create detachment. The problem with this is threefold: it leaves the reader wondering who is doing what, it’s boring, and it’s confusing. Fortunately, getting rid of detachment in your writing is easy if you identify and eliminate passive voice and vague –“ing” words. [excerpt]


Confusing Word Pairs, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff 2018 Concordia University School of Law

Confusing Word Pairs, Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Tenielle Fordyce-Ruff

Here are [a number of] confusing word pairs explained and some tips to help you use the correct word when writing or editing. [excerpt]


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