On Behalf Of vs. In Behalf Of

By Mark Nichol

The noun behalf (from Middle English, from by and half, indicating “side”) is an uncommon word in a number of aspects.
For something, it is utilized only in 2 prepositional phrases, anchoring either “in behalf of” or “on behalf of.” Many other nouns are utilized in similar prepositional expressions in which a set of prepositions frame a noun, as in “in addition to” or “on account of,” but each of these nouns bases on its own, as do most others seen in prepositional phrases: “Hes designed an addition to his house”; “They opened a new account.” By contrast, behalf can not stand on its own, without the assistance of prepositions, as in the nonsense sentence “He offered his behalf to their cause” (which tries, and stops working, to individually utilize the word in among its senses, “assistance”).
The other anomaly is that behalf is associated with 2 possible preceding prepositions, when most prepositional phrases are restricted to one choice of prepositions. For instance, in recommendation to the other expressions discussed above, “in addition to” is not alternatively rendered “on addition to,” and “for account of” is not a version of “on account of.” Many other prepositional expressions are also repaired. Here are some examples with a few of the most common leading prepositions:

* versus the guidance of * at the advising of * by methods of * for fear of * in case of * on the benefits of * to the left of * with respect to

Such prepositional expressions often have a stilted and even antiquated feel to them. One other, which, like behalf, is based upon a noun that can not stand on its own, is “at the behest of” (which suggests “on the order of” or “at the demand of”). Request, which shares the Middle English prefix be- with behalf and suggests “command” or pledge,” however can not be used otherwise as a synonym for those words, as in the nonsense sentence “She behested that he leave instantly.”
By the way, whats the distinction in between “in behalf of” and “on behalf of”? “On behalf of” has actually mainly supplanted the alternative expression in both senses in British English, while in American English, the 2 phrases are utilized interchangeably. Less officially, for can change either phrase, however if they are used, the distinction between “in behalf of” or “on behalf of” should, at least in American English, be observed depending on the significance.

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By contrast, behalf can not stand on its own, without the support of prepositions, as in the nonsense sentence “He offered his behalf to their cause” (which attempts, and fails, to independently employ the word in one of its senses, “support”).
The other anomaly is that behalf is associated with two possible preceding prepositions, when most prepositional phrases are limited to one choice of prepositions. By the way, whats the difference between “in behalf of” and “on behalf of”? “On behalf of” has actually mostly supplanted the alternative phrase in both senses in British English, while in American English, the 2 expressions are used interchangeably. Less formally, for can change either expression, however if they are utilized, the distinction in between “in behalf of” or “on behalf of” should, at least in American English, be observed depending on the meaning.

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