Archive for February 6, 2014

grammatical word: vis-a-vis


In this post, I’d like to talk about the term “vis-a-vis” because I received a request about this from one of my readers.

This word or term comes originally from French, and in that language it basically means “opposite” or “facing”. It can also mean “towards” or “with respect to”. This is because the word “vis” comes from “visage” which, in French, means the “face” of something or someone.

We have borrowed this word into English, but in our language we focus on the meaning which is “with respect to”.  Another way to say this is “with regards to”. Here are some examples of how to use it.

I really didn’t like Gordon’s comments vis-a-vis the new company dress code.

What are we going to do vis-a-vis the problems down at the factory?

I’m writing this letter to you vis-a-vis your complaint about the service you received in our store.

Please note that “vis-a-vis” is a very formal expression and is not often used in English, except usually in formal business or academic situations. Even then, it can seem a bit pretentious to some people because it comes from French.

Also, please be aware that the pronunciation of this is /vee za vee/.

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