http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/offend contains the definition.

Are people whose jobs concern the fight against crime likely to be biased jurors? ... The court decided that the presence of serving police officers and a prosecuting solicitor (an employee of the Crown Prosecution Service) on separate juries in 2004 and 2005 had not offended against principles of fairness and there were no circumstances in the cases to give rise to concerns of bias.

Source: p 168, How the Law Works, Gary Slapper

Would someone please correct my initial 'gloss' on this verb + particle?

I attached against to principles of fairness, so offended against principles of fairness
= offended + against principles of fairness
= offended + unfairness,
but this is the opposite meaning of offended against + principles of fairness.

  1. What are the errors above? Are there terms for them?

  2. When should the empty preposition or particle be parsed as above?

  • 1
    You should group offend against together if you want to group them. The headword of the phrase principles of fairness is principles rather than fairness. They are principles. "Which principles?", you might well ask. They are principles of fairness. – Damkerng T. Aug 22 '14 at 8:27

Attaching against to principles of fairness (as you wrote) just doesn't make sense. Offend against is a phrasal verb, as as such, must be treated as a unit. See e.g. http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/offend-against-sth. Its meaning is different from a simple offend.

Offended unfairness is incorrect. A person can be offended (=they become upset/resentful), not a concept (like unfairness).

|improve this answer|||||

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.