Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Word Up Wednesday: Substantive

You'd never know it by how poorly I copy edit (or so I've been told over the years without any explanation, ever, but I digress), but I once took a whole series of copyediting courses. The courses relied on your basic grasp of grammar, but I learned a whole heck of a lot of little particulars. One thing I learned was the word substantive. And that's your Word Up for this week. Substantive is a word commonly used in the editing and copyediting industries.

Substantive doesn't quite mean substantial, although a whirl around the tinterweb will have you believing otherwise. I found sites where people said it means the same thing, but noo-ooo-hooo, my friends, it does not. Substantive refers to something that is actual or real, as in, "Hibernian FC needs to experience a substantive increase in ticket sales if it wants to build the new east stand." Substantial means considerable or sizeable, as in, "That Ranger fan's head is substantially bigger than that Celtic fan's head. And not in a good way." Oooh, it's a slight wee difference, isn't it?

Now check this out. I found this little gem in an article about Congressional ethics:

We regret that the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct (SOOC) mischaracterized the Office of Congressional Ethics’ (OCE) August 6th referral of the matter involving Representative Sam Graves. The OCE Board did find substantial reason to believe that a substantive violation may have occurred. While the SOOC released a portion of the OCE referral, the complete disclosure as provided for in H. Res 895 will clearly demonstrate as much.
Holy Krakow! Did you see that! Both uses, correctly, in one sentence! The OCE nearly have me based on that alone!

What do you think about the word substantive? Did you know about it?

7 comments:

Jm Diaz said...

i did not know about this word!Well, I knew about it, but did not know the precise difference between it and Substantial. Now, I feel all educamentaded, and stuff. So thanks, dear Sierra... :) Most informative.

Gemma Noon said...

In my old job, where we had a lot of people on seccondment or covering other posts, etc, we used "substantive" to refer to their "actual" job, as in the one they were contracted to do, not the one they were actually doing.

ie "Oh Emma's only temporarily playing the monkey, her substantive role is selling peanuts".

Tina Lynn said...

Nope. Still lost. But, of course, I haven't slept in 29 hours, so that may or may not have something to do with it:)

Travener said...

I would comment, but I have nothing substantive to say. Or, "subSTANtive," as they would say in England. That's a substantive difference in pronunciation, I would imagine.

Sierra Godfrey said...

JM - you're so sweet :)

Gemma - All right, see this is where the English are just ahead of Americans.

Tina - Get some sleep, that is scary.

Trav - Well I don't live in england but I assure you *I* prounounce it subSTANtive. (well, I do now.)

Amber Tidd Murphy said...

I love learning new words. Thanks for this! So, substantial is a measurable difference and substansive is...

oh, crap. I gotta go back and read it again.

Meredith Rae Morgan said...

In my day job, I work in the legal profession. Substantive and substantial mean very different things. The distinction is both substantive and substantial.

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