Professional Style


March 2011
Spot the Error

The finance subcommittee was established to provide recommendations vis-à-vis budget allocations.

Oh, puleeeez … spare me. No one with a lick of sense says vis-à-vis. It’s so pedantic and uppity … and ironically funny, considering it’s frequently used incorrectly.

In French, vis-à-vis means face to face. In English, it means face to face; confronted with; or in comparison with. Example:

The two children sat vis-à-vis and tried to stare each other down without laughing.

In the “subcommittee” sentence above, vis-à-vis is used to mean regarding or concerning, which is incorrect. So, when you absolutely, positively have to sound pedantic and uppity, be sure you use the word correctly.

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