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The Grammar Guru

It was the defense attorney's turn. He stood and, scratching his chin, addressed the witness. "Miss Emory, you say you saw my client punch Mr. Eldridge in the face. Is that correct?"

The witness, a woman of many years, said, "Yes."

The defense attorney walked toward her, stopped a few feet away and turned his back. "You also said that you don't know the defendant. Is that correct?"


The attorney swirled and faced the witness. "Then please explain how a woman of your exact identity sued the defendant for breach of promise 20 years ago!"

The spectators gasped.

"I-- I -- "

"You cannot be an impartial witness! You cannot be disinterested, can you?"

The courtroom erupted again, as the witness cried, "I forgot all about that! I've had a problem with my memory lately and -- "

"I am uninterested in your lame excuses! No more questions!" shouted the defense attorney, and the witness tried unsuccessfully to faint.

Remember: disinterested -- objective, impartial; uninterested -- couldn't care less



1) "Would you like to go to this Broadway opening?" asked Warren. "No," said Emma. "I'm (disinterested/uninterested) in a musical version of 'Death of a Salesman.'"

2) "I'd be happy to go with you," said Marjorie. "I am extremely (disinterested/uninterested) in dramas, but I love musicals."

3) Since Marjorie openly dislikes dramas, she'll never work as a theatre critic. She's not (uninterested/disinterested) enough.



1) uninterested (Emma didn't want to hear Willy Loman's wife singing "Willy, Willy, Woe is We!")

2) uninterested (Warren, who for some reason feared Marjorie, agreed, but canceled an hour before the show. The wuss said he had the flu.)

3) disinterested (As it happens, Marjorie doesn't care, and neither does anyone else.)