+44 (0)1273 732 888
60-second fix: discount on or discount off?
Author : Catie Holdridge
Posted : 01 / 12 / 16
If you’re feeling generous and you’re offering money off something, is that a discount on or a discount off the usual price?
This was recently the subject of much heated debate here at Emphasis HQ.
Sides were taken, teeth bared and battle lines drawn, with both sides certain they were right.
‘Of course it’s “discount off“!’ said Team Off. ‘When you give a discount, it means taking money off.’
This is undeniably true.
‘But the word “discount” means “a deduction from the full amount”,’ fumed Team On. ‘The “off” is built in to the word.’
This caused a temporary ceasefire. There were murmurings in the Off camp.
After all, just as you wouldn’t say ‘a reduction off prices’, so ‘discount off’ starts to look a lot like saying the same thing twice (tautology).
Finally, we hit upon the ultimate way to break the deadlock: comparing each term’s usage using Google Ngram, which shows how often words or phrases have appeared in a large selection of books. The results were pretty conclusive:
The final ruling was in: while you can refer to offering ’10 per cent off’, it should always be a ’10 per cent discount on‘.
And so all hostilities ceased, with one side graciously conceding (and the other refraining from saying ‘Told you so’).
Image credit: Jag_cz / Shutterstock
Catie joined Emphasis in 2008 with an English literature and creative writing degree under her belt. Having researched and written dozens of articles for the Emphasis blog, she now knows more about the intricacies of effective professional writing than she ever thought possible.
She produced and co-wrote our online training programme, Emphasis 360, and these days oversees all the Emphasis marketing efforts. And she keeps office repartee at a suitably literary level.
Posted by: Catie Holdridge
14 / 09 / 11
There’s a phrase you’re bound to need to use when writing a CV, a bio for a proposal, or showing off in a World of Warcraft chat room, to prove how practised you (or your colleague/client/avatar) are. But there you may pause (and you wouldn’t be the first). Is it year’s experience or years’ experience? […]
Posted by: Cathy Relf
14 / 10 / 12
Should you write: a) ‘Last autumn, I led the Pegasus project’, or b) ‘Last autumn, I lead the Pegasus project’? The answer is a). Led is the past tense and past participle of the verb to lead. The confusion arises for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the verb to read keeps the same spelling when […]
Advice and tips (161)
Choose your words wisely (47)
Plain English (27)
Language abuse (22)
60-second fix (21)
Report writing (20)
Bids and tenders (19)
Reader-centred writing (17)
Online and social media (15)
Psychology and linguistics (13)
News from Emphasis (12)
Technical writing (12)
International issues (10)
Customer relations (9)
Presentations and speeches (9)
Numbers and finance (9)
Design and formatting (9)
Letters and CVs (8)
Writing for media (5)
Literacy and education (5)
Legal writing (4)
Writing news stories (4)
Style guide (4)
Development of English (4)
PDF downloads (3)
Courses for companies (2)
Pitches and proposals (2)
Conferences and exhibitions (2)
Book reviews (1)