Commonly Confused Contract Terms
When drafting a contract, care must be taken to use exactly the right words to convey the desired meaning. Even a seemingly minor mistake, even one misplaced letter, can drastically alter the terms of a contract or render it unenforceable.
The following chart illustrates how easily certain words can be confused or misused, and if you don't read over a contract very carefully, these common mistakes can be easy to miss. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it should help alert you to some common errors and keep you on your toes in order to catch others.
Affect: To alter, influence, or change
Effect: A result, or to bring about change
Alternate: A substitute or second choice, or to take turns
Alternative: One choice among various options
Among: Occurring in a group of three or more
Between: Occurring in a set of two
Assure: To convince
Insure: To guard against loss
Assure: To convince
Ensure: To make certain
Bimonthly: Every other month
Semimonthly: Twice a month
Biweekly: Every other week
Semiweekly: Twice a week
Capital: City that is the seat of local government, or relating to money, or an uppercase letter
Capitol: The building in which the legislature meets
Continual: Intermittent or repeated at intervals
Continuous: Without interruption
Discreet: Prudent or cautious
Discrete: Separate or detached
Eminent: High in rank
Imminent: About to occur
Farther: Greater distance
Further: Greater degree, time, or quantity
Fewer: A smaller number of units
Less: A smaller quantity
i.e.: That is
e.g.: For example
Imply: To suggest
Infer: To conclude
Its: Belonging to it
It's: It is
Mean: The number obtained by adding all values together and dividing by the number of values
Median: The value that falls in the middle of all of the recorded values, with an equal number of values above and below it
Practical: Useful in actual practice
Practicable: Capable of being put into practice
Principal: Head or chief
Principle: A basic truth or assumption
Stationary: Fixed or immovable
Stationery: Writing materials
Contracts are Confusing: Get Professional Legal Help Today
Small businesses generally must become "Jacks of all trades" in order to successfully run their operation. But the finer points of business law are often best left to a specialist. If you are drafing or about to sign a contract but need help understanding the terminology, you may want to consult with a business and commercial law attorney first.
See FindLaw's Drafting Contracts section to learn more.
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Contact a qualified business attorney to help you negotiate and craft airtight contracts.