Page:A Desk-Book of Errors in English.djvu/18

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A Desk-Book of

attachment. Abandon and forsake may be used in a favorable or unfavorable sense. Desert is to leave permanently and especially without regard for the person or thing deserted; it is used only in an unfavorable sense and usually implies a breach of duty.

Some writers assert that desert is used only "of causes or persons but not of things." This is erroneous. There is ample evidence of its correct application to things; as the soldier deserts his colors; the sailor deserts his ship.

abbreviate, abridge: Discriminate carefully between these words. To abbreviate is to shorten a word so that a part stands for the whole; to abridge is to condense or epitomize, as a report, in such manner that the spirit of the original is retained though it is expressed in fewer words.

ability, capacity: These words are not exactly synonymous in meaning when used in the singular. Ability is bodily or mental power; capacity is receptive or containing power. Ability when used in the plural embraces both meanings.

about. Compare almost.

above: Inelegantly used as a noun by ellipsis of some noun as "He wrote the above" for "the above phrase." A more objectionable use is as an adjective; as, "I submit the above facts" for "I submit the above-mentioned facts," The use of the