Premises, Premises

There are still some neighborhoods where you can find signs that say, “Keep off the grass.”

In nicer neighborhoods, you might find some that say, “Stay off the premises.” You’ll probably comply, assuming you know the meaning of “premises”.

But certainly, the word premise (without the final “s”) should not be used to describe a building or its property:



Taken literally, this sign could mean “Based on established logical arguments, shirts and shoes must be worn.”

I can’t argue with that. Please, do me a favor and keep your shoes and shirts on! Unfortunately, though, the signmaker here meant “premises.”

If you took philosophy class or went to law school you’re probably well familiar with the meaning of premise: “A proposition upon a which an argument is based or a conclusion is drawn” (www.thefreedictionary.com).

Premises, on the other hand, means “land or the buildings on it, or a part of a building”. Used as a plural, it can also mean multiple propositions or arguments.

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