References to Time

Using “Anniversary” to Denote a Milestone in Months

Here’s what Garner’s Modern American Usage has to say about anniversary: anniversary (= the day of the year on which an event occurred in a previous year) is today used informally to denote a milestone in months or even weeks. That usage has become increasingly common, perhaps because there is no convenient equivalent for terms shorter than a year (milestone … Read More


Avoid the prefixes bi- and semi- for purposes of references to time—they’re confusing. Bimonthly means “every two months” and semimonthly means “every half-month,” in other words “twice a month.” Biweekly and semiweekly reflect the same distinction. But biannual and semiannual both mean “occurring twice a year,” whereas biennial means “occurring once every two years.” So if someone is under an … Read More

Fun and Games with the Meaning of “Year”

Reader Steven Sholk of the Gibbons law firm alerted me to the February 6 decision by the Mississippi Supreme Court in Barbour v. Mississippi ex rel. Hood. Click here for a copy of the opinion. Steven had been alerted to this case by Rick Hasen of the Election Law blog. This case involves a squabble between the governor of Mississippi … Read More

The Apostrophe in “Five Days’ Notice”

A couple of days ago I received from a reader an email that included the following: I’ve got a question about the use of apostrophes in notice period provisions. I was rather surprised to see that section 8.96 of the MSCD includes apostrophes after the number of days/weeks/months in your example provisions. Shouldn’t such provisions simply refer to “days”, “weeks” … Read More

“At Any Time”

In my post on “termination for convenience” (click here) I said that in language providing for termination for any reason you can dispense with the phrase at any time, as that concept is implicit in termination for any reason. But the point can be made more broadly—the phrase at any time would seem to be extraneous whatever the context. In … Read More

“From the Beginning of Time” and “At Law or in Equity”

Recently someone asked me about settlement and release agreements, and that put me in mind of a picturesque drafting usage that’s a fixture of release language—from the beginning of time, as in “Jones hereby releases Acme from any claims … arising from the beginning of time to the date of this agreement.” I searched for this phrase in the material … Read More