"For Free?"

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Elocution/ Accent Reduction By: Please log in to see tutor details
Subject: Elocution/ Accent Reduction
Last updated: 28/03/2018
Tags: for free, free, grammatically incorrect

For a long time I have wrestled with the commonly used expression "for free" when referring to something for which no money is transacted. Surely the phrase should be "free"?

Is the word "for" necessary? I don't think so. My father used to complain bitterly that the English language was becoming diluted with lazy and, even worse, American grammar in the 1960s and would unerringly correct my sisters' and my diction with alarming regularity. I have to admit I didn't understand why he was so pedantic with such an inoffensive phrase but as the years have gone by I find myself cringing with distaste every time I hear "for free".

Having sought guidance from Michael Swan and his very popular tome Practical English Usage I find he does not mention my pet sensitivity. However, various websites who specialise in correct grammar do in fact agree with me that "for free" is grammatically incorrect. They explain thus: A preposition must sit before something functioning as a noun (i.e., a noun, a pronoun or noun phrase). As free is an adjective, it cannot be preceded by the preposition for.

Could we perhaps begin to adopt the word "free" by itself....please? I realise this is a personal request, but for the sake of correct English grammar I feel it is important.

Clare Elizabeth Elocution/ Accent Reduction Tutor (Gloucester)

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