No room at the inn

Let's not say naught

Have you ever drafted an affidavit, like this one, concluding with the phrase "Further affiant sayeth not"? If so, then count yourself among the illiterati: the correct phrase is "Further affiant sayeth naught." That's according to Joe Kimble, and he should know.

You can avoid such gaffes by listening to Kimble.  Stick to 21st century English, and omit formalistic gobbledygook that doesn't actually say anything. So:

  • Bad: "Further affiant sayeth not."
  • Slightly improved: "Further affiant sayeth not naught."
  • Even better: "Further affiant sayeth naught."



Ugh. I don't know what it is with notaries, but it seems like any document I've seen that needs to be notarized automatically has to have three times the amount of legalese in it. Even worse, no one wants to change it. Whats wrong with:

I certify that on December 20, 2004, in New Orleans, Louisiana, Jim Bob, Esq. swore to the above statement.

Jill Notary. (seal)

practical paralegal

Kimble's suggestions are the best I've seen when it comes to stripping affidavits and acknowledgements of legalese. For some reason, transaction and probate lawyers have been the worst at insisting that legalese is required. Kimble and others in the Michigan Bar's Plain English Section make it clear that there is no valid excuse for using legalese. There is no case law, court rule, statute, or any other legal authority that requires it, even though some attorneys -- and paralegals -- stubborningly cling to it to make the document "legal."

Mithila Baindur

i like what u say here, for am - the illiterati.
and dont know what "Further affiant sayeth naught." means.


It is far too widely published that the form using 'not' is grammatically incorrect. It simply isn't true. This is a perfectly acceptable inversion of "Affiant sayeth not further."


"Not" is an adverb that modifies the verb sayeth, while "naught" is a noun meaning "nothing." The word "not" is not correct contextually, or grammatically, in fact, "not" leaves the reader wondering what the affiant is not saying, which defeats the purpose of the closing.


First, though one may be right to dislike the antiquated and/or convoluted language of "further affiant sayeth naught," a closing is an important part of any affidavit. It means "after what is printed and notarized here, the affiant said nothing else under oath (as an affiant). The sworn statement ends here. Rest assured that nothing that needed recording was left out of this affidavit." If you don't think such a statement serves a purpose, then I don't want you representing me, because you are embarrassingly, incompetently, malpractice insurance premium-raisingly mistaken. In fact, other lawyers ought to come round your house, pull your pants down, and laugh at you. Joe Kimble may not like that, but Joe Kimble is a law professor, not a lawyer. I couldn't give a sliced monkey poop what Joe thinks.

Second, the particular language of the closing persists because it's just plain EASIER. I am trying to make a living here. Ten minutes of argument with a bullet-headed notary, which concludes with me putting the language back in just to shut her up, does not help me make a living. Maybe I make that mistake once; I don't make it twice, let alone twenty times, to prove a point.

Third (further to second), introducing simple English into legal writing is a fine crusade - but it's your crusade. Don't presume it's mine. It's not. I don't care. I have real work to do, real bills, real worries, real crap with which to deal. If the presence of antiquated language in a legal document carries such gravitas in your world as to constitute crusadeworthiness, then you lead either a far cushier, more decadent life than I will ever lead, or a more self-absorbed one.

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