Premise vs. Premises

As both a communications tech and college professor, I take umbrage with Arlyn Powell's recent editorial about premise versus premises

As both a communications tech and college professor, I take umbrage with Arlyn Powell's recent editorial about premise versus premises. Please, let us not further bastardize the language by telling people in a nationally recognized magazine that it is okay to misuse words. I fight with my students, fellow trainers, vendors, and manufacturers to use the word premises when describing a building, and premise to indicate a thought. The Webster's II New Riverside University Dictionary states that a premise is "a proposition..., logic, explanatory fact," and that premises is "land and the buildings on it, a building or section of building." There is no reference to singular or plural.

Please help us educators and the telecom business as a whole, and let's make the world safe for premises cabling-because premise cabling is simply an idea gone bad!

John Highhouse, Program Director
Telecommunications
Technology & Training
Lincoln Trail College
Robinson, IL

The author replies:

Professor Highhouse refers to the Crosstalk column in the November 2000 issue (p. 124), entitled "What's the word?" I have rechecked the dictionary, and he is indeed correct. The word premise in its singular form refers only to a proposition set forth in an argument. In its plural form, it can mean either multiple logical propositions or a building, either with or without accompanying grounds. The latter definition derives from the fact that the legal term for the first section of a deed or bill of sale was once called the premises.-A.P.

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