Friday, August 2, 2013

I Used to Could, But Now I Can't

Colloquialisms are informal words or phrases that often are regionally specific.  Colloquialisms, while acceptable in conversations, have no place in formal writing, legal or otherwise.  Below are some common colloquial phrases that should be avoided:

We know for sure the accident was caused by the defendant’s negligence. 
“For sure” is a colloquialism that should either be replaced with “for certain,” or removed altogether. 

It is like the contract never existed. 
“Like” should be avoided.  Replace “like” with “as if.”

The plaintiff use to golf prior to the accident. 
“Use to” is never appropriate—the correct phrase is “used to.”

The defendant could of/would of/should of avoided the accident. 
Replace “of” with “have.”  The defendant could have/would have/should have avoided the accident.

At the time of his death, the decedent was caring for three kids. 
“Kids” are baby goats.  Use “children” when referring to human offspring.

The defendant was pretty angry after the victim pushed the defendant’s girlfriend.
You should avoid “pretty” and stick to more formal words, such as “relatively,” “fairly,” and “quite,” or simply remove altogether.

There were an awful lot of people affected by the defendant’s conduct.
“Awful lot” should be replaced with “many,” a synonym of “many,” or a specific number.

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