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Some writing/editing notes:

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“I’m not laughing at you, I’m laughing with you” or some variant of it: People say it to someone who’s feeling hurt about hearing laughter.

But that’s ridiculous. They say “I’m laughing with you” to someone who isn’t laughing. How can you laugh with someone who’s not laughing?

When people say “laughing with you,” they mean “laughing for you” — laughing in your favor because they’re on your side. When a lovable comedian like Charlie Chaplin slips and falls, and the audience laughs, they’re feeling, “The poor sap’s trying so hard to do something and still gets the worst of it.”

But that’s not laughing with him, because he’s too concerned about scrambling to get up (and probably slipping and falling again) to laugh at the situation.

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Person X performed action Y “before she died.” Well, obviously. She couldn’t do it after she died, right?

If you mean “shortly before she died” or something like that, say it — but “before she died” isn’t enough.

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It’s not “all intensive purposes.” It’s “all intents and purposes.” Thank you.

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“The exception proves the rule” contradicts itself. An exception proves that a rule has flaws, not that it works.

The phrase seems to be a mistranslation. As I understand it, and I could be wrong, “the exception proves the rule” comes from the Latin “exceptio probat regulam.” But “probat” doesn’t always mean “proves.” It can also mean “probes.”

“The exception probes the rule” — or, as it’s sometimes translated, “the exception tests the rule” — makes sense. If you find an exception to a rule, then you should re-examine the rule to see if the rule’s still true and applicable. (The original meaning of “proves” as in “tests” still exists in phrases such as “proving grounds.”)

But “the exception proves the rule”? I doubt it.

 

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