Category Archives: Difficult English terms

This category is for posts taking a close look at English legal words and phrases that are problematic for both Dutch legal professionals and English-speaking lawyers.

Avoiding “arguable”

“Arguable” is one of those strange and unclear English words that not only have two different meanings, but two meanings that are the opposite of each other. (Other such words include “sanction”, “literally” and “oversight”. ) Example of the unclear use of “arguable” The following sentence could have two different interpretations:  ? It is arguable that… Read more

Avoiding “shall”

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English-speaking legal-writing experts agree that the use of “shall” by English-speaking lawyers is a mess. They also agree that the irregular, inconsistent and unclear use of “shall” is leading to misunderstanding and unnecessary litigation. Despite their agreement about the nature of the problem, the experts are divided on what to do about it. Some (including… Read more

Avoiding “as of”

Great care should be taken in translating time-related prepositions (voorzetsels) like vanaf, tot en met and per. It doesn’t help that some of the English expressions are not clear at all. For example, “as of” (like its British cousin “as at”) is used all the time by English speakers — but in various, often unclear… Read more