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“advocate for” or just “advocate”?

Is “advocate for” redundant? For example, does one advocate human rights, or advocate for them?

  • February 3, 2012
  • Posted by llellc
  • Filed in Usage

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jayles November 7, 2017, 2:44pm

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jayles November 7, 2017, 2:43pm

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So okay, does one "advocate their library" or "advocate for their library"?
I can be an advocate for using the library (be a person who encourages the use of the library) and I can advocate for the library (actively raise awareness of -or- build support for)

awd November 6, 2017, 3:43pm

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When the preposition 'for' is used with the verb 'advocate' is would mean 'for the benefit of'. Therefore, the sentence 'She advocates for foster children' is grammatically correct while 'He advocates for lower taxes' is NOT grammatically correct as lower taxes is not the beneficiary.

Please note that just because a usage has become widespread, that does not make it grammatically correct. If so, the sentence 'I seen the movie' would be deemed correct.

SCOT February 22, 2017, 6:42pm

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In general, the noun/verb distinction is accurate, but not completely so.

If I were a lobbyist, I might say "I advocate lower taxes."

But if the Republican Party retained me (with or without pay) as an advocate for lower taxes, I could say "I am an advocate (noun) for the Republican Party" or "I advocate (verb) for the Republican Party."

John Eidsmoe January 10, 2017, 6:41am

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As an American who attended grade school in Massachusetts starting in 1949 and received a truly excellent education, the awful decline of correct grammar usage in the US is driving me mad. The nearly universal use of "advocate for," which has become prominent in a very few years, makes me wince whenever I hear it and has me puzzled as to how it developed so quickly and became so common. I've heard rumors (or facts?) that English grammar is no longer being taught in our education system (!) and I can believe it, because I hear so much incorrect usage, both spoken and written. It gives backup to those who advocate the elimination of our federal department of education.

Susan October 30, 2016, 8:44pm

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My apologies, I failed to notice the typo.

The "to" which precedes recycle is obviously redundant.

Hairy Scot May 22, 2014, 8:37pm

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"advocating for" as a phrase has upticked dramatically since 1980 in google books, especially in US English. Whether this is use or misuse, or a shift in the language is debatable.

jayles May 22, 2014, 8:16pm

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Hairy Scot,
The example you suggest is not only awkward, but grammatically incorrect:
"....The government has been advocating that the community to recycle more.....".
Read it out loud to yourself...every word. No one speaks like that. Well, I guess you just did. I'll rephrase, any who speaks like that is likely to have a hard time retaining the respect of others.
If you are going to advocate for a specific use, you should probably at least read it out loud to make sure it sounds correct, before publishing.
'...for the community to recycle more.'
'...that the community recycle more.'

BGriffin May 22, 2014, 7:15pm

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May I use "advocating" without "for"?
You not only may, you must.

The government has been advocating that the community to recycle more.

Hairy Scot May 16, 2014, 9:07pm

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The government has been advocating for the community to recycle more. May I use "advocating" without "for"?

Mansfield May 16, 2014, 7:47pm

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"Advocate" comes from the Latin "ad" and "vocare" (literally "to call to"). I suppose that one could call to someone for someone else, but the denotation of this word requires that we not employ the redundant "for." To advocate a thing is to be "for" it already, making the idea of advocating "for" something not being for it, but being for whatever is for it.

So, it is always "advocate," never "advocate for" in a verbal form. As a nominative, of course the label is required to indicate to whom an advocate is attached.

Darin April 1, 2013, 10:05am

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Thank you!! I think this whole thing came about in the context of students being self-advocates, which is eventually what we settled on. "Advocating for himself" seems awkward, or "advocating his needs," I think, is just poor grammar. In that case you'd just be speaking on behalf of the needs, not stating them clearly and making them evident. So we said he's a good self-advocate because he articulates his needs appropriately.

llellc February 21, 2012, 1:13am

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As state in the previous comments, one is a verb and the other is a noun. You just need be sure that you are pronouncing each term correctly to show the difference.

to advo-KATE = verb
an advo-KIT = not

(Of course, people's accents might be slightly different... but that's how they each sound in my head!)

Amy B. February 20, 2012, 3:17pm

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If used as verb it is advocate, if used as noun you advocate for/of something/somebody. For example: I do not advocate the use of violence. An advocate for hospital workers/ advocate of free speech.

Violeta February 17, 2012, 2:12am

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One can advocate something or one can be an advocate for something.

Hairy Scot February 16, 2012, 12:43pm

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Yes     No