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Elementary English Grammar for Lawyers

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Abstract: A lawyer interpreting a text whose meaning is disputed – whether a statute or some other document that has effect in public law, or a document like a contract or a will that has effect in private law – must be able to articulate why it is possible that the text has more than one meaning, and why one of those meanings is preferable to another. An important aid for performing those tasks is the conceptual apparatus of English grammar. This paper, written as an aid for students of legal interpretation, outlines some fundamentals of English grammar, and shows, via numerous examples, how the courts have used the language of grammar in solving problems of interpretation.

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