Prepositions

Whether it’s fee-fi-fo-fum, or for, from, or following, your choice of word or phrase can have a serious effect on the meaning of your text.

Don’t lawyers practise law?

Example: An article on a Law Society of Upper Canada disciplinary hearing of conflict-of-interest charges against two of Conrad Black’s former lawyers, in the 19 June 2010 edition of The Globe & Mail, says that “if the two are found to have broken the rules, they could face fines, suspensions, or be banned for practising law.”

What’s wrong: The preposition “for” introduces the act for which the punishment is banishment. But practising law is what lawyers do!

Correct usage: “If the two are found to have broken the rules, they could face fines, suspensions, or be banned from practising law.” That is to say: if found guilty, the lawyers would no longer have the legal right to practise law.

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