English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I'm wondering if there is a better way to write this:

Lesser of actual physical damage or $1,500 per occurrence.

share|improve this question

closed as unclear what you're asking by tchrist, John Lawler, JLG, p.s.w.g, TrevorD Jul 29 '13 at 22:57

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.

I'm not sure that's a sentence, since there is no verb. – Thomas Jul 29 '13 at 20:49
This is a question for a lawyer who practices in a country where the laws and the courts are both in English. Not a grammarian. – John Lawler Jul 29 '13 at 21:06
This question appears to be off-topic because it is about advice on legal wording. – TrevorD Jul 29 '13 at 22:57
@ Thomas according to Halliday and Matthiessen (2004:6), a sentence is any collection of words that lie between a capital letter and a full stop. Besides that, you don't appear to be answering anything other than your own [undecided] thinking. – Qube Jul 30 '13 at 6:49

[...] the cost of the damage, not to exceed $1,500 per occurrence [...]

share|improve this answer

Better is going to get you opinions, but since this seems to be something designed for a legal-esque document it's probably acceptable. Usually I see the sentence constructed as "... actual physical damage or $1,500, whichever is less, per occurrence" which flows more nicely in my opinion.

share|improve this answer
I would not say "whichever is lower" but "whichever is less". – GEdgar Jul 29 '13 at 20:55
@Amory, Yes, it is a legal-type document, so my options and space are limited. I was curious if there was a shorter/sweeter way of writing it without distorting the message. – user48748 Jul 29 '13 at 20:57
Amor, could "whichever be lower" a correct alternative form? If so, what is the difference using be rather than is? – user19148 Jul 29 '13 at 22:07
Thanks GEdgar. No, be is not correct as "be" is the infinitive form. Personally, though, I like GetzelR's version as well. – Amory Jul 29 '13 at 22:40

There are actually three fundamental problems with the original phrase, additional to the item you have asked about:

Lesser of actual physical damage or $1,500 per occurrence.

  1. You are not comparing like with like: you cannot compare "physical damage" with a sum of money! What (I assume) you mean to refer to is the cost of repairing the actual physical damage.
  2. The correct construction is not the "lesser of A or B": it should be "lesser of A and B".
  3. "Occurrence" of what? If you are talking about damage to a vehicle, does "occurrence" refer to each separate area of damage on the vehicle even if all damage was caused by the same incident? Or does it mean "per hire period"? I am assuming it means "per incident", i.e. per each separate occasion on which damage was caused. But you need to think about that.

I would suggest something like:

... the lesser of the actual cost of repair and $1,500 per incident.

But equally, you could use wording similar to that suggested by @GetzelR, such as:

... the actual cost of repair, up to a maximum of $1,500 per incident.

But really, if you are writing a legal document, you should be consulting a lawyer. The cost of getting it wrong, could easily outweigh the cost of employing a lawyer.

share|improve this answer

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.