The Write Stuff

With regards to begging questions

2004-07-14 13:39

If you let out a yell of irritation at the "with regards to" in the headline good - you were supposed to! It's one of the phrases I've had people tell me they cannot stand, especially when it's used by public speakers, TV announcers and other people who should know better. It should be "with regard to", of course, with no s.

Some other phrases people have mentioned as their pet niggles, with an accompanying "Please address them in your column!", are:

"beg the question" instead of "raise the question". If something happens or is said that leads one to want to ask a question about it, it simply raises the question, it does not beg it. To beg the question means to "assume the truth of the matter in dispute" (Concise Oxford). The two phrases are not synonymous.

"than what" instead of "than". In "The company fared better this quarter than what they did last quarter", what is not only superfluous, it is wrong. Its most likely origin is the Afrikaans equivalent as wat - good Afrikaans, bad English!

"incidences" as the plural of "incident". Something that happens or occurs may be called an incident; in most cases the word is simply a synonym for occurrence. The plural of incident is incidents. Problems arise because incidents sounds like incidence (which has no plural), and then confusion sets in and incidences (which is not even a word!) becomes the plural of incident for some speakers. (The word incidence is correct in a sentence like: There is a high incidence of crime in that area.)

It may sometimes be difficult to keep using the right words when even public figures keep using the wrong ones, but it can be done!

  • Nicky Grieshaber, formerly a university lecturer, is now a translator, text editor, study skills trainer and general entrepreneur.

    Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

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