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W

Way for Away. "Way out at sea." "Way down South."

Ways for Way. "A squirrel ran a little ways along the road." "The ship looked a long ways off." This surprising word calls loudly for depluralization.

Wed for Wedded. "They were wed at noon." "He wed her in Boston." The word wed in all its forms as a substitute for marry, is pretty hard to bear.

Well. As a mere meaningless prelude to a sentence this word is overtasked. "Well, I don't know about that." "Well, you may try." "Well, have your own way."

Wet for Wetted. See Bet.

Where for When. "Where there is reason to expect criticism write discreetly."

Which for That. "The boat which I engaged had a hole in it." But a parenthetical clause may rightly be introduced by which; as, The boat, which had a hole in it, I nevertheless engaged. Which and that are seldom interchangeable; when they are, use that. It sounds better.

Whip for Chastise, or Defeat. To whip is to beat with a whip. It means nothing else.

Whiskers for Beard. The whisker is that part of the beard that grows on the cheek. See Chin Whiskers.

Who for Whom. "Who do you take me for?"

Whom for Who. "The man whom they thought was dead is living." Here the needless introduction of was entails the alteration of whom to who. "Remember whom it is that you speak of." "George Washington, than whom there was no greater man, loved a jest." The misuse of whom after than is almost universal. Who and whom trip up many a good writer, although, unlike which and who, they require nothing but knowledge of grammar.

Widow Woman. Omit woman.

Will and Shall. Proficiency in the use of these apparently troublesome words must be sought in text-books on grammar and rhetoric, where the subject will be found treated with a more particular attention, and at greater length, than is possible in a book of the character of this. Briefly and generally, in the first person, a mere intention is indicated by shall, as, I shall go; whereas will denotes some degree of compliance or determination, as, I will go--as if my going had been requested or forbidden. In the second and the third person, will merely forecasts, as, You (or he) will go; but shall implies something of promise, permission or compulsion by the speaker, as, You (or he) shall go. Another and less obvious compulsion--that of circumstance--speaks in shall, as sometimes used with good effect: In Germany you shall not turn over a chip without uncovering a philosopher. The sentence is barely more than indicative, shall being almost, but not quite, equivalent to can.

Win out. Like its antithesis, "lose out," this reasonless phrase is of sport, "sporty."

Win for Won. "I went to the race and win ten dollars." This atrocious solecism seems to be unknown outside the world of sport, where may it ever remain.

Without for Unless. "I cannot go without I recover." Peasantese.

Witness for See. To witness is more than merely to see, or observe; it is to observe, and to tell afterward.

Would-be. "The would-be assassin was arrested." The word doubtless supplies a want, but we can better endure the want than the word. In the instance of the assassin, it is needless, for he who attempts to murder is an assassin, whether he succeeds or not.


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Ambrose Bierce

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