OK, restaurant industry, it’s time we had a chat. Nay, it’s time we had a grammar lesson.
More of the food you’re making in your restaurants is being consumed off-site. That’s great! Any time a customer chows down on your carefully crafted food is a win. But as this trend has grown, many of you have taken to calling it “off-premise” dining. And that, my friends, is categorically false.
You see, the definition of premise is, according to Merriam-Webster, “a proposition antecedently supposed or proved as a basis of argument or inference; specifically, either of the first two propositions of a syllogism from which the conclusion is drawn.” In other words, a premise is one side of an argument. So “off-premise” would be… a tangent to your argument, I guess?
Are you looking to grow your non-argumentative business? No. That’s because the correct word you’re looking for is premises. Indeed, the definition of premises is “a tract of land with the buildings thereon.” Like, say, a piece of real estate upon which your restaurant sits.
Why is this important, you ask? Why point out that so many people seem to be getting this wrong? Well, for starters, IT’S DRIVING ME CRAZY. Would you carelessly remove the “s” from the end of “news” and say that you’re “reading the new”? No! SO WHY ARE YOU DOING IT TO PREMISES?
I’m getting carried away. You don’t have to just take my word for it. We consulted with none other than the Associated Press Style Book—our journalistic lord and savior—for a ruling on the matter, and while they have no formal entry, they agreed that the correct phrase is off-premises. Case closed!
Let me re-state my premise: The letter “s” may seem insignificant to you, but sometimes even teeny tiny little things make the difference between something right and something wrong. And when it comes to the lucrative world of off-premises dining, wouldn’t it be best if you got it right?
—Sam Oches, Editorial Director, Food News Media