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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