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I am sure the correct way would be "I approve this message", however there are a lot of mentions on the Internet that say "I approve of this message". I assume people say it just for fun, unless there is a good reason to say it this way, is there?

To be clear, the question is about using "approve of" vs "approve". I asked because I didn't know "approve of" is a valid form.

4 Answers 4

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To approve of [something] is a prepositional verb which means: to speak or think favourably of something, or to have a good opinion of something.

To approve [something] means: to officially agree to/accept something.

Both have quite different meanings. The word "of" completely changes the meaning. These aren't interchangeable. If you say "I approve the message", people might mistake you for an official who has endorsed or allowed the message to be sent.

If you mean you think the message is good or that you agree with it, then its better to say you approve of it.

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It's a reference joke which has become a meme.

On American Television, when political candidates make campaign commercials, the law requires that the candidates themselves say in their own voice:

My name is X, and I approve this message.

This part of the ad stands out so much compared to the slickly produced stuff before, and they're so commonplace in election season, that "I approve of this message" has become a meme among Americans and Canadians, where after saying something that might sound like an impassioned speech, you might jokingly say, "I approve (of) this message."

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    For the record, this disclaimer is still required for all ads placed by a candidate's campaign. But it's not required for ads placed by outside groups, which seems to be a majority of them nowadays. Oct 30, 2022 at 13:52
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    Specifically, in this original context, the candidates are not just saying that they approve of (agree with) the advertisement, but that they personally authorized it. The purpose of the law was to ban ads that lied about their opponents, anonymously, by making the people behind the ad say who made it.
    – Davislor
    Oct 30, 2022 at 13:54
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    Another variation of “approve of this message” that organizations used was, “This message produced by the Disengenuously-Named Committee, which is solely responsible for its contents.”
    – Davislor
    Oct 30, 2022 at 13:57
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    While useful background information, this does not seem to answer the OP's question about the use of "approve of" vs. "approve". Oct 30, 2022 at 15:26
  • Of course, given that every significant candidate in the US has recorded "I approve this message" messages, it would be very simple to rip these clips and tack them onto the end of whatever garbage you want to make them look bad. This is something the late night comedians have often done in parody, but a more nefarious group could do this in less obviously-fake ways. They'd probably get into legal hot water for it, but possibly not before doing significant damage to the candidate's campaign and reputation. Oct 31, 2022 at 14:34
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You approve a request or a proposal as an authority in a bureaucratic context.

You approve of an idea or a claim for their validity, morality, or desirability based on your rationale, ethical standard or preference.

So by "I approve of this message" I think the person believes its content to be reasonable and/or likable.

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    If you would like an example phrasing to contrast the senses used here: "The politicians approve the law, the voters approve of the law".
    – user48076
    Oct 31, 2022 at 1:46
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Prior to 2002, basically anyone could run political ads in the US relating to virtually any race or topic without making it clear who made the ad. You might see, for example, an ad disparaging (candidate 1), and it wouldn’t be clear if the ad was from (candidate 2), an advocacy group, or someone else.

This is why Congress passed the Stand By Your Ad law in 2002, which basically requires political ads to explicitly state who made the ad.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stand_by_Your_Ad_provision

Since most people don’t pay that much attention to changes in the law, this meant that many people just started hearing “I approve this message” all the time, even though they weren’t used to hearing it before. So it is not surprising that it has spawned various memes and parodies.

For example, I could write, “I am SegNerd, and I approve of this post.” I don’t actually have any legal obligation to write that (this isn’t a political ad), but at this point, it is a “catchphrase.”

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    The question never says anything about political ads. It's about the syntax "approve" versus "approve of".
    – Barmar
    Oct 30, 2022 at 21:18
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    Versions of this have already been posted twice, one is now deleted, and they are still not answers to the question here at all. What is the linguistic difference between approve and approve of?
    – user48076
    Nov 1, 2022 at 9:38

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