Page:A Desk-Book of Errors in English.djvu/49

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Errors in English

land by a last will and testament; a legacy is personal property bequeathed. Devise is sometimes used loosely for any testamentary disposition of property but, applied strictly, refers specifically to land, whereas legacy applies to any kind of personal property.

berth, birth: Discriminate carefully between these words. Berth, which is probably derived from bear, (Anglo-Saxon beran, carry), means a place of accommodation, whether as bunk or bed, apartment, or engagement. Birth, similarly pronounced and derived, means "a coming into existence. "

beside, besides: Much confusion exists, and has long existed regarding these words. Gould, who in his work on "Good English" explained the use of these terms in 1856, from which Webster borrowed in 1876, states that "besides is always a preposition and only a preposition." This is not so. It is sometimes an adverb when used in its prepositional sense of "by the side (of)."

Of besides as a preposition, Skeat, in his "Etymological Dictionary," says:—"The more correct form is beside; 'besides' is a later development, due to the habit of using the suffix -es to form adverbs; the use of besides as a preposition, is, strictly incorrect, but is as old as the 12th century."

Beside is also a preposition in the sense of "in comparison with" and "physically or mentally remote from." "Beside your work his is poor"; "Beside