Mea culpa: Don’t put the word ‘basis’ on a pedestal

Questions of style and usage in last week’s Independent

John Rentoul@JohnRentoul
Saturday 09 November 2019 20:38
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Extinction Rebellion... they’re all individuals!
Extinction Rebellion... they’re all individuals!

I became sensitised to the word “basis” this week. A harmless enough word, from the Greek for pedestal or base, but it does give rise to some reader-unfriendly constructions.

We wrote last week, for instance, about an insurance website that “claims to check the markets on a daily basis to ensure its prices remain competitive”. We could have said “check the markets daily” or “every day”.

Then we reported that, instead of pursuing a group action against the Metropolitan Police, Extinction Rebellion would “support people on an individual basis” if they sought compensation for false imprisonment. I think “support individuals” says the same thing more elegantly.

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