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“Represent” is not “is”

by on 5 Jul, 2011

If you use the wrong word in a report or story and you don’t know it was wrong, some others will.  They will judge accordingly.  Take the word “represent”.  Here’s an online definition.

The meaning is to stand in for something.  Yet I heard, on the BBC of all places, a journalist say that the change represents 300 new houses.  It does not “represent”.  It “is”.

Why use a longer word than a shorter one?

Because it seems more formal.  Longer words sound “posh”.   But then their meaning is lost.


Language is plastic: it is what we humans say it is.  I have already lost the battle over the word “impact”.  It is not a verb: so you cannot “impact something”.  The correct use is “to have an impact on”.   But now it is used as a verb and I surrender that point

But I am still battling for “represent” in its correct use.  And did you notice my acceptance of the word “use” there rather than “usage”?  I can accept the change in the use of words: but not “represent”.


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