Posted by: episystechpubs | August 19, 2015

Editor’s Corner: Premise and Premises

I never gave too much thought to the words premise or premises, until somebody used the wrong one in a sentence. This is actually a wily word and deserves some further attention. The following bits and pieces of information are from the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

First we have premise. The singular version of this word means:

“a basis of argument: a : a proposition in logic stated or assumed as leading to a conclusion : either of the first two propositions of a syllogism from which the conclusion is drawn b : something assumed or taken for granted : presupposition; especially : something implied as a condition precedent c obsolete : a condition stated beforehand : stipulation.”


· “The premise behind doing these back exercises is that you are only as old as your spine feels.”

· The premise of the film is simple: the boy is half human and half dog. Add a deranged clown and a pet cat and this is a guaranteed moneymaker!

The plural form of the word is premises. And this is where it gets tricky.

Premises (plural in form, but singular or plural in construction) means:

a archaic : property that is conveyed by bequest or deed b : a specified piece or tract of land with the structures on it c : a building, buildings, or part of a building covered by or within the stated terms of a policy (as of fire insurance) d : the place of business of an enterprise or institution


· The sign reads, “No trespassing! Keep off the premises or you will be violated by killer bees.”

· We walked around the house and looked through the window, trying to determine if anyone still lived on the premises.

So, next time you see the words premise or premises in print, look at the context to make sure the writer got it right! Are they talking about an idea or the basis of an argument, or are they talking about somebody’s property?

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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