Writing Tips

Legal Writing Grammar and Usage

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Three Words That Aren't

Are "Impact," "Irregardless," and "Hopefully" Real Words?

“impact” “hopefully” “irregardless” – at least the way we often use them

The varied and rich vocabulary of English (so many good words from which to choose) evolves democratically. Words once unacceptable elbow their way in, and after decades of misuse become acceptable. However, three words we commonly write, aren’t there yet:

“Impact” is not a verb (unless we’re talking automobiles or meteorites).

The deceptive trade practice significantly impacts affects the public.

(For those who care: “impact” was a verb 400 years ago; in the 1980s, politicians and those in the financial sector brought it back with a slang touch, as in “. . . impact the bottom line.”)

“Hopefully” does not mean “I hope.”

Hopefully, I hope the Plaintiff will reconsider our offer.

(Full disclosure: Nothing is wrong with “hopefully,” except that many people who read your work were taught it’s incorrect. They will assume you don’t know that. “I hope” sounds better anyway.)

“Irregardless” stubbornly survives as the bastard child of “regardless” and “irrespective.”

Irregardless Regardless of the State’s position, pension funds must be protected.

(Spewing “irregardless” to a professor earned one of my law school classmates a round of ring tapping from the self-righteous rest of us. We were right. It was then, and still is, not a word, no matter what part of speech.)

As these “words” struggle toward “acceptability,” don’t risk your credibility by using them now.

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About Gary Kinder

Gary Kinder

WordRake founder Gary Kinder has taught over 1,000 writing programs for AMLAW 100 firms, Fortune 500 companies, and government agencies. He’s also a New York Times bestselling author. As a writing expert and coach, Gary was inspired to create WordRake when he noticed a pattern in writing errors that he thought he could address with technology.

In 2012, Gary and his team of engineers created WordRake editing software to help writers produce clear, concise, and effective prose. It saves time and gives confidence. Writing and editing has never been easier.

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WordRake is editing software designed by writing expert and New York Times bestselling author Gary Kinder. Like an editor or helpful colleague, WordRake ripples through your document checking for needless words and cumbersome phrases. Its complex algorithms find and improve weak lead-ins, confusing language, and high-level grammar and usage slips.

WordRake runs in Microsoft Word and Outlook, and its suggestions appear in the familiar track-changes style. If you’ve used track changes, you already know how to use WordRake. There’s nothing to learn and nothing to interpret. Editing for clarity and brevity has never been easier.