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In Behalf Of vs. On Behalf Of
Sometimes in writing and speaking we arrive at a phrase that forms a fork
in the road to expression. Ideally, we can distinguish one path from the
other, even if by subtlety.
Other forks pose a greater challenge. Each way looks the same, and the
sounds from both are familiar. We pick our path and hope for the best,
making our choice a 50-50 gamble.
The prepositional phrases in behalf of and on behalf of
often present us with such potential divergence. Thus we—including
reputable writers—often use them interchangeably.
A closer look, however, reveals that by definition the phrases are separated by nuance. Careful, articulate writers make mental note of the difference and reinforce proper usage with practice. Soon enough, they apply it with correct, reflexive instinct.
In behalf of
means “for the benefit, advantage, or interest of” in acting as
an agent, friend, or benefactor. Another way to think of it is “as
helping” someone or something.
The foundation raised more than $250,000 in behalf of refugees of foreign wars.
The city council opened a new food pantry in behalf of the
city’s underserved residents.
Mrs. Brown offers much in behalf of her students to help them
On behalf of
means “as the agent of,” “in place of,” or
“on the part of.” Another way to think of it is “as
representing” someone or something.
The law firm filed a suit on behalf of the three people injured by the company truck.
On behalf of
all who couldn’t be here tonight, I want to say thank you for your
Karen has power of attorney, so she can sign the documents on behalf of her father.
Here’s an example of both phrases in the same sentence: “On behalf of the VFW, the commander will help finance the event
after he knows how the funds will be used in behalf of the
deceased veterans’ families.”
This should help you make the right choice of phrasal “behalf.”
Simply reflect on intent (help or representation), pick your path, and move forth with extra confidence.
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