Mea Culpa: Advocating the proper use of verbs

Susanna Richards is minding our language in this week’s Independent

Saturday 31 July 2021 21:30
<p>An underwater creature, happiest under water</p>

An underwater creature, happiest under water

We seem to have forgotten ourselves a little this week, perhaps because John Rentoul is not watching. The phrase “advocate for” has popped up in copy a number of times, which isn’t surprising given its ubiquity, but it would be better if we could avoid it just the same.

One comment piece contained this assertion: “I am proud to represent a party with a long history of advocating for the UK to meet its obligations to the world’s poorest.” In the context, something like “campaigning for” might have been better, though it could also have said “with a long history of advocating that the UK meet its obligations”.

When we use the verb “to advocate” correctly, it is elegant. When we don’t, it’s a shame. Remember: we advocate the doing of something; we are advocates for (or of) the thing being done.

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