“Drafting Up” and Extraneous Prepositions

Today I noticed that someone said on Twitter that they were “drafting up a screenplay contract for legal revisions” (emphasis added).

That sent me to Google, where the search [“drafting up” contract] resulted in 4,090 hits . The search [“draft up” contract] resulted in 12,900 hits, but they included a greater proportion of irrelevant results, such as “You screwed this draft up.” But in any event, adding up to forms of the verb to draft is sufficiently commonplace to be worth noting.

This usage is an example of the urge to tack prepositions on to verbs. For some reason, up is particularly conducive to this:

  • “Wait up,” pleaded Larry.
  • “Listen up, everyone!,” yelled Lucy.
  • “We’ll spend the next two weeks training up for the match,” said Barry.

I suspect that most listeners would acknowledge that in these examples, the up is extraneous, although established in casual speech. Over time the up might well become more firmly entrenched, as it is in the phrase “Hurry up!”

If you know of any discussion of the urge to add prepositions, please let me know.

About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.

9 thoughts on ““Drafting Up” and Extraneous Prepositions”

  1. It seems interesting to me that “write” can be followed with “up”, “down” and “out”.

    I was thinking that “down” and “out” wouldn’t also go with “draft”, but Google turns up a fair number of hits on “drafting out” and “draft out”, but they seem to be more in context of drawings than contracts.

  2. David: You can use a range of prepositions with any number of verbs (such as run), with the meaning changing drastically with each preposition. But that’s a different matter than the urge to tack on prepositions without changing meaning. Ken

  3. We commonly “mark up” documents to show changes which have been accepted or rejected. In that context I would have thought “marking up” would be OK. No?

  4. Jack: The up in draft up might indeed be borrowed from draw up, but that’s just guesswork on my part.

    Robert: Whether any given up (or any other preposition associated with a verb) is gratuitous involves comparing the meanings with and without the preposition. I think that mark up has a much more specific meaning than just mark.


  5. Ken

    In correspondence with Americans I repeatedly come accross the verb “sign” followed by “off” in connection with the signing of legal documents. I though that “to sign off” means the same as “to sign” a contract/document. Am I correct?


  6. Mirko: To sign off on something means to approve it, even without having actually signed anything. That’s different from simply signing something. Ken


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