Posted by: Jack Henry | August 30, 2018

Editor’s Corner: In Behalf of and On Behalf of

Good morning! I’ll assume you’ve had your coffee or tea or Unicorn Frappuccino® and dive right in.

Although they are not phrases we use much in technical writing, the phrases I’m discussing today are fairly common, and they are often misused, so I thought you might like to know the difference and know how to use them correctly.

The phrases are in behalf of and on behalf of. And while many people use the phrases interchangeably, they actually have different meanings. Let’s take a look.

In behalf of means “for the benefit, advantage, or interest of.” It means that someone is acting as an agent, friend, or benefactor. You can think of in behalf of as helping someone. Here are some examples of sentences that use in behalf of correctly:

  • Employees raised $4,000 in behalf of the fire victims.
  • The wealthy patron donated enough money to open a temporary shelter in behalf of the animals displaced by the hurricane.

In contrast, on behalf of means “as the agent of,” “in place of,” or “on the part of.” You can think of on behalf of as representing someone or something. Here are some examples of how to use the phrase on behalf of:

  • The social worker spoke eloquently on behalf of the 11-year-old child.
  • I would like to thank you on behalf of my colleagues who couldn’t be here tonight.
  • Karen has power of attorney, so she can sign the documents on behalf of her father.

And, to help you draw a clearer distinction, here’s an example of both terms used in one sentence:

  • The teachers are meeting with the school board on behalf of their students to finalize plans for a student-run program that provides free school supplies in behalf of transient children.

Most people use on behalf of in both instances. But we’re not most people; so, to recap, you should use in behalf of when you’re talking about helping someone, and you should use on behalf of when you’re talking about representing someone or something else.

Enjoy your day!

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.278.0432 | Extension: 765432

Symitar Documentation Services

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