The problem with the word usually isn’t just that it’s vague. Instead, it’s that it exhibits the free-floating vagueness that we previously encountered in substantially (see this 2011 post)—vagueness uncoupled from a reasonable-person standard. How often does something have to occur for it to occur usually? Who knows. I’m not comfortable with that level of vagueness.

A suitable fix might be to delete usually:

Tenant will not, without the written consent of Landlord, use any apparatus or device in the Premises … that will in any way increase the amount of electricity or water usually furnished or supplied for the use of the Premises for general office purposes …

But sometimes additional tinkering might be in order:

If Landlord shall from time to time reasonably determine that the use of any cleaning service in the Premises … is in an amount greater than usually attendant upon the [read is reasonable for] use of such Premises as offices, the reasonable cost of such additional cleaning services shall be paid by Tenant to Landlord as additional rent, within twenty (20) days after demand.

The Executive shall have all of the powers and duties usually incident to the offices of Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President [add as specified in the Company’s bylaws].

Each Party will keep its business and properties insured at all times against such risks for which insurance is usually [read would be] maintained by reasonably prudent Persons engaged in a similar business.

(All the examples are from EDGAR and haven’t been sanitized.)

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.