substitution of X with Y

Arnold Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Wed Dec 10 15:32:53 UTC 2008

On Dec 10, 2008, at 7:08 AM, Wilson Gray wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      substitution of X with Y
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> "... substitution of 'call in sick' with 'call in gay' ..."
> I don't know that I've ever seen this construction before. Would "...
> substitution of 'call in sick' _by_ 'call in gay' ..." also be
> grammatical? How about "... substitution of 'call in gay' for 'call in
> sick' ..."?

we've discussed these uses of "substitute" (plus another, labeled
"reversed substitute") many times here on ADS-L.  from a posting of
mine from 10/26/04:

using [david] denison's (hopefully transparent) labels OLD and NEW,
the original verb usages were:
   (1) substitute NEW for OLD  (NEW be substituted for OLD)
   (2) replace OLD by/with NEW  (OLD be replaced by/with NEW)

"substitute" then encroaches on "replace" territory, giving the
proscribed (but very widespread and unambiguous):
   (3) substitute OLD by/with NEW  (OLD be substituted by/with NEW)


as i pointed out several times in these discussions, MWDEU has a nice
discussion of "encroached substitute" as in (3).

encroached "substitute" is now so frequent, including in material from
"good writers" in serious contexts, that i'm not sure it can fairly be
labeled as non-standard.

to be fair to wilson, as far as i can tell he wasn't a participant in
these years of discussion of encroached and reversed "substitute" on
ADS-L.  he might simply have skipped over these threads as not being
of interest.


The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list