As subsidiary to the cardinal rule of ascertaining and giving effect to the intention of the parties, there are a number of subsidiary rules which are applied by the courts in the construction of contracts. As said in a recent Wisconsin case,81 however, "no rule of construction merely is a strict rule of law. In applying and enforcing any and every contract, especially when reduced to writing, it is the duty of the court to ascertain what the parties really intended by the words used in the instrument, and so-called rules of construction are but aids or suggestions resulting from common experience to the effect that people generally, in arranging and using words, mean thus or so thereby."

(1) Courts will correct obvious mistakes in writing and grammar.82 Accordingly, words may be transposed, rejected, or supplied,

160 N. Y. 549, 55 N. E. 292; Hull Coal & Coke Co. v. Coke Co.. 113 Fed. 256, 51 C. C. A. 213; McLean v. Windham Light & Lumber Co., 85 Vt. 167, 81 Atl. 613 Thus, where a policy of marine insurance excepted the time "while the vessel is at Baker's Island loading," and the vessel was lost while there, but before it had begun to load, it was held, after evidence of the dangerous character of the place, that the intention of the parties was to except the time while the vessel was there for the purpose of loading, and not merely while it was actually loading. Reed v. Insurance Co., 95 U. S. 23, 24 L. Ed. 348. Prior negotiations between the parties may be considered in determining the meaning of an ambiguous contract. Potthoff v. Safety Armorite Conduit Co., 143 App. Div. 161, 127 N. Y. Supp. 994. See "Contracts," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 169; Cent. Dig. § 752.

81 Per Dodge, J., in Hoffmann v. Eastern Wisconsin Ry. & Light Co., 134 Wis. 603, 115 N. W. 383. See "Contracts," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) §§ 143, 147; Cent. Dig. §§ 723, 743.

82 Wilson v. Wilson, 5 H. L. Cas. 40, 66; Watson v. Blaine, 12 Serg. & R. (Pa.) 131, 14 Am. Dec. 669; Monmouth Park Ass'n v. Iron Works, 55 N. J. Law, 132, 26 Atl. 140, 19 L. R. A. 456, 39 Am. St. Rep. 626; Atwood v. Cobb, 16 Pick. (Mass.) 227, 26 Am. Dec. 657; Harman v. Howe, 27 Grat. (Va.) 676; Caldwell v. Layton, 44 Mo. 220; Knisely v. Shenberger, 7 Watts (Pa.) 193; Fowler v. Woodward, 26 Minn. 317, 4 N. W. 231; Cowles Electric Smelting & Aluminum Co. v. Lowrey, 79 Fed. 331, 24 C. C. A. 616; City of Garden City v. Heller, 61 Kan. 767, 60 Pac. 1060; Newbern Banking & Trust Co. v. Duffy, 153 N. C. 62, 68 S. E. 915 [cit. Clark on Contracts (2d Ed.) §§ 218, if necessary, to make the meaning clear.83 This rule includes another, namely, that the punctuation of a document, though it may aid in determining the meaning, will not control or change a meaning which is plain from a consideration of the whole document and the circumstances.84

(2) The court will restrict the meaning of general words by more specific and particular descriptions of the subject-matter to which they are to apply.88

(3) Where a particular word, or the contract as a whole, is susceptible of two meanings, one of which will render the contract valid, and the other of which will render it invalid, the former will be adopted so as to uphold the contract.88 Thus, where a document was expressed to be given "in consideration of your being in advance" to a person, and it was argued that this showed a past consideration which would not support the promise, the court held that the words "being in advance" might mean a prospective advance, and be equivalent to "in consideration of your becoming in advance," or "on condition of your being in advance." 87 So, also, where a contract is susceptible of two constructions, one of which will render it unlawful as being in violation of law or contrary to public policy, that construction which will render it lawful will be adopted.88

219]. The word "and" may be read "or," or vice versa, to prevent an absurd or unreasonable result. Manson v. Dayton, 153 Fed. 258, 82 C. C. A. 588. See "Contracts," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 157; Cent. Dig. § 739.

83 Potthoff v. Safety Armorite Conduit Co., 143 App. Div. 161, 127 N. Y. Supp. 994. See "Contracts," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 147; Cent. Dig. §§ 730, 743..

84 White v. Smith, 33 Pa. 186, 75 Am. Dec. 589; Ewing v. Burnet. 11 Pet. 41, 9 L. Ed. 624; English's Ex'r v. McNair's Adm'rs, 34 Ala. 40; Osborn v. Farwell, 87 111. 89. 29 Am. Rep. 47; Holmes v. Insurance Co., 98 Fed. 240, 39 C. C. A. 45, 47 L. R. A. 308. See Joy v. City of St Louis, 138 U. S. 1, 11 Sup. Ct. 243, 251, 34 L. Ed. 843. See "Contracts," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 158; Cent. Dig. § 740.

85 Phillips v. Barber, 5 Barn. & Ald. 161; Cullen v. Butler, 5 Maule & S. 461; Stettauer v. Hamlin, 97 111. 312; Dawes v. Prentice, 16 Pick. (Mass.) 435; Emery v. Fowler, 38 Me. 99; Vaughan v. Porter, 16 Vt. 206; Bock v. Perkins, 139 U. S. 628, 11 Sup. CL 677, 35 L. Ed. 314; Richmond Ice Co. v. Ice Co., 99 Va. 239, 37 S. E. 851. See "Contracts," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 156; Cent. Dig. § 737.

86 Olympia Bottling Works v. Olympia Brewing Co., 56 Or. 87, 107 Pac. 969. See "Contracts," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 156; Cent. Dig. § 737.

87 Haigh v. Brooks, 10 Adol. & E. 326. And see Atwood v. Cobb, 16 Pick. (Mass.) 227, 26 Am. Dec. 657; Anderson v. Baughman, 7 Mich. 69, 74 Am. Dec. 699; Thrall v. Newell, 19 Vt. 202, 47 Am. Dec. 682; Field v. Leiter, 118 111. 17, 6 N. E. 877; Gano v. Aldridge, 27 Ind. 294; Reilly v. Chouquette, 18 Mo. 220; Hunter v. Anthony, 53 N. C. 385, 80 Am. Dec. 333; Saunders v. Clark, 29 Cal. 299; Wells v. Atkinson, 24 Minn. 161. See "Contracts," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 156; Cent. Dig. § 737.

(4) If possible without going contrary to the manifest intention of the parties, a contract will be so construed as to render it reasonable rather than unreasonable.89 If the terms of the contract itself leave its meaning in doubt, "the court will ascribe to the.-parties an intention to enter into a fair agreement, and will adopt the construction which makes the contract equitable." 90