Writing for Business

Jul 24 2012   1:40PM GMT

Notwithstanding; not withstanding

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
Anything Apple is hot, the general hatred for iTunes ______________.
a. notwithstanding
b. not withstanding

Answer: a

There’s no real rhyme or reason to which phrases we make into compound words and which ones we don’t. This is one of the former. “Notwithstanding” means “despite” — despite the widespread (and well-deserved, IMO) hatred for iTunes, Apple’s gadgets continue to be sprinkled with fairy dust.

When my husband was an English prof, he used to get some interesting errors in student essays. One student was particularly fond of “bethatasitmay.” Which seems pretty bad, until you start to think about a few of the legit compound words:


The Grammarphobia blog explains more about compound words, their origins and uses.

I could admit that I thought “notwithstanding” was two words, but I just admitted last week that I thought the expression was wracking my brains. So I will not admit that I thought that.

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