Misused Words: Begs the Question

Will you give me that? I asked
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Earlier, I was writing a piece and my mind kept insisting on using the phrase “begs the question” for a particular sentence. To shut it up, I refreshed my knowledge at Grammar Girl on the proper use of the term. I thought I’d share a quick tip on the proper use of the phrase.

“Begs the question” does NOT mean “It leads me/us to ask.”

It DOES mean a logical fallacy in which the person assumes a claim is true. For example, “This painting is trash because it is obviously worthless.” is said to beg the question because it offers a false claim (it begs the question, “Why is it worthless?”).

In short, the common usage of “it begs the question” – for instance:

The company recently announced that it’s now going to focus on products – which begs the question of just what it is that they’ve been focusing on for the past three decades. – Beatweek

Is technically incorrect and should be avoided. Besides, it’s terribly cliché. Instead, simply say what you mean – “which leads [subject] to ask”.

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3 Responses to Misused Words: Begs the Question

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Misused Words: Begs the Question | Written Wings -- Topsy.com

  2. My question is why people feel a need to beg. A well written request is often a good alternative to begging.

    • Jaime says:

      But you’re supposed to be more sympathetic to desperate people!

      Interestingly enough, the phrase technically was mistranslated. It more means “assumes” or “asks.”

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