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I see this phrase written very often, and in legal documents, which are at least in theory more often correct than the "average" text:

in case of cancel, ...

It sounds incorrect, and I suppose it is, but is there a context where this phrase is grammatically correct, or more appropriate than in case of cancellation?

The only use for cancel as noun that I know of is "a mark made on a postage stamp to show that it has been used", which is not the case here (the phrase is being used in a contract clause about cancellation of purchase).

Edit: By carefully looking at the examples, they all seem a bit crappy in terms of English quality. Also, some of them seem to alternate between cancellation and cancel indiscriminately.









Edit 2: I agree, my question is not very useful. If it should be kept in the hope that Google will help some of those poor translators to avoid the same mistake, or if it should be erased, I'm not sure. Either way is fine for me, but I do not know how to actually improve the question. I'll delete it if recommended to.

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closed as unclear what you're asking by FumbleFingers, phenry, MετάEd, TimLymington, Mitch Jun 30 '13 at 3:25

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Could you provide some examples? A 'legal notice' may just be something cooked up by a junior manager to try and frighten competitors. – TimLymington Jun 28 '13 at 20:45
I'm going to say it's "unclear what OP is asking". I'm not a lawyer, so I admit I don't spent my days perusing legal texts. But if in case of cancel really did turn up in such contexts I'd expect to find a reasonable number in Google Books. But there are actually only 13 in total, and most of them are OCR errors where -lation appears as the next "word". On the other hand, there are apparently 60,000 instances of in case of cancellation. The real question seems to be "Why does OP see this phrase written very often"? – FumbleFingers Jun 28 '13 at 21:02
You're right, I mistakenly considered too many bad quality sources, instead of trying to search for books... thanks for the tip, I'll consider it in the future. – anol Jun 28 '13 at 21:24
"legal documents, which are at least in theory more often correct than the "average" text" - I would argue with this assumption of yours. Legal texts often have their own accepted vocabulary, style and even grammatical idiosyncracies which would be considered incorrect out of their specific scope. – Avner Shahar-Kashtan Jun 28 '13 at 21:33
This question boils down to "grammatical errors appear in poorly written documents. Discuss." – MετάEd Jun 29 '13 at 11:42
up vote 2 down vote accepted

I've looked at all the references you've mentioned, and searched them all for the word "cancel".

I agree that they all (except one) contain variations on the wording "In case of cancel". It's clear to me that they all mean "In case of cancellation" or "In case of [you] cancelling".

In the http://www.lazycow.com/nav/terms document, all instances of "cancel" seem to be using it correctly as a verb.

I have some experience of reading, writing and reviewing legal documents, and I would not expect such documents to have such errors. On the other hand, a number of them seem to have been written by people whose native language is not English. Although I haven't looked at them in sufficient detail to check this, I note that they all relate to accommodation and I wonder whether there has been some copying or some common source for the documents.

As regards your underlying question, no, (as far as I am aware) that phrase is not grammatically correct, and I don't recall ever seeing it used in that fashion. However, one dictionary (I only checked two!) does give cancel as a noun, with the definition "a less common word for cancellation".

As regards your statement

The only use for cancel as noun that I know of is "a mark made on a postage stamp to show that it has been used".

I would again say that even there the normal word is "cancellation".

Finally (just 'in case of relevance'), I am writing from a UK perspective.

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I agree that stamps have cancellations, not cancels. – Andreas Blass Jun 29 '13 at 1:15

The word cancel as a noun has appeared in the Webster's Collegiate Dictionary series since the Seventh Edition (1963). The most recent edition, the Eleventh (2003), provides this definition:

cancel n (1806) 1: CANCELLATION 2a: a deleted part or passage b(1): a leaf containing matter to be deleted (2): a new leaf or slip substituted for matter already printed

Clearly the poster's question is about the legitimacy of using cancel to mean cancellation, and just as clearly Merriam-Webster's has been reporting that definition for the past 50 years, though I doubt that use of the word in that sense is widespread or generally admired.

Recasting verbs as nouns without bothering to alter their endings is by no means uncommon. For example, in recent years, you may have noticed the emergence of "the reveal" for "the revealing" (or "the revelation" or "the unveiling"), and "a fresh install" for "a fresh installation" (of a computer operating system).

Ultimately, real-world use or abandonment, not fiat, will determine the fate of cancel as an alternative to cancellation.

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