The Evolution of the English Language or “Dumbing it Down”?

If you follow the “word nerds” on Twitter, you’ll see all sorts of tweets about what words used to mean vs. what they mean now. There is no doubt that the English language is evolving as it is affected (and always has been) by various cultural influences. I’m OK with that* (most days), but I hate to see the language change simply because we just don’t care enough to get it right.

* Splitting infinitives and ending sentences with a preposition don't bother me much, especially if it helps the writer avoid sounding like a pompous know-it-all.

Case in Point: on-premise vs. on-premises.

For those who don’t work in high-tech (or have anything to do with buying it), the phrase, in a nutshell, means technology resources that are located on site rather than “in the cloud.” When I’m not writing romances, I’m usually writing something for the high tech industry, so out of necessity, I use the phrase “on-premises” rather frequently in my work.

I would estimate that roughly half of my clients remove the final s.

Since, they are paying my bills, I rather politely suggest that it is necessary. Sometimes they agree, sometimes they don’t. Some don’t really care much one way or another. But, since none of my clients read my writing blog, I am going to scream it from the top of my lungs here: on-premise is wrong.

According to, a premise is a proposition supporting or helping to support a conclusion. Premises has a few definitions, but all having to do with property. As an example, it would be proper to say, “Elvis has left the premises” but not “Elvis has left the premise.”

But because not enough people care, you can find on-premise everywhere. Even mixed with examples of on-premises on the same web page. The one thing that drives me nuts more than poor word usage is lack of consistency. If you’re going to get it wrong, at least pretend that you think you’re correct.

<heavy sigh>

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