Write On!, 0220 WYBJ, Vol. 43 No. 1. 34

AuthorJohn H. Ridge, J.D., Ph.D. Fort Collins, Colorado
PositionVol. 43 1 Pg. 34

Write On!

Vol. 43 No. 1 Pg. 34

Wyoming Bar Journal

February, 2020

Spot the Errors: A Writing Analysis

John H. Ridge, J.D., Ph.D. Fort Collins, Colorado

Have you ever read a sentence that just seemed wrong to you? You couldn’t identify the error because that college English class was oh-so-long-ago. But you knew there was something dubious about the grammar. So you played around with the sentence and fixed it, without ever labeling the misplaced modifier or lack of subject-verb agreement. You just fixed it.

Spotting and correcting errors is an important part of legal writing, whether or not we can put a name to those errors. This year we will focus on these two important skills with a series of articles that will help us practice identifying and correcting writing errors, and hopefully have fun doing so.

Each of the examples below includes one or more grammatical or punctuation errors. Let’s see if we can spot the errors and correct them.


1. The copper telecommunications line was installed in the 1970’s and replaced with a fiber optic line in the 1990’s.

2. JHR Engineering designed the faulty storm-water detention pond, JSR & Sons constructed the facility according to the design.

3. The defendant wastewater company engaged in “regular inspections” of its sewer lines and plant equipment.

4. The associate sent the complaint to: the bank, the bank president, the bank secretary, and the board members.

5. To make a good argument, a lawyer needs: knowledge of the law, knowledge of the facts, and the ability to apply the law to the facts.

6. The complaint was filed by the plaintiff ’s lawyer after the statute of limitations had run.

7. Either Jesse or Jeremy are helping with discovery on the hit-and-run case.

8. Either the secretaries or the paralegal are assisting with the trial.

9. In order to attract more women-owned businesses and become more appealing to their changing client base, Wilson Engineering rebranded in 2019.

10. The partner budgeted twenty hours to complete the project, which did not seem like alot of time to the associate.

11. The grizzled public defender was adverse to calling his client as a witness.

12. The Wyoming Attorney General was averse to the U.S. Government during the trial over water rights.


1. Apostrophes are used to form contractions or show possession. The dates, therefore, should have been written without the apostrophes, such as follows: 1970s and 1990s.

2. When...

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