How’s Your Command of Grammar?

Vol. 42 No. 3

By

Bryan A. Garner, the president of LawProse, Inc., is the author most recently of Legal Writing in Plain English (2d ed. 2013) and HBR Guide to Better Business Writing (2013). Since 1994, he has been editor in chief of all editions of Black’s Law Dictionary.

In the writing seminars I teach for practicing lawyers, I frequently ask how many don’t know what the passive voice is. In a group of 100 or so, typically one or two will fess up. At least 98 percent will claim to know what passive voice is. Then I’ll give everyone a pop quiz consisting of only two sentences: the lawyers have to say whether there’s a passive-voice verb in either one.

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