For the record, it is “on premises”

As the computer industry continues to evolve into more of a cloud centric model, I want to officially express my concern about the confusion between the words premise and premises.

It is my understanding that a premise (singular) is a set of one or more declarative sentences (or propositions) in a logical argument. Whereas a premises (also singular, while being the plural of premise) is the land and buildings together considered as a property.

The word, premises, in this latter context, is always used in the plural, but is singular in construction. For example, a single house or a single other piece of property is premises, not a premise, although the word, premises, is plural in form as in, “The server is located on the customer’s premises” and never “The server is located on the customer’s premise.”

This is a crazy construction in English where one word has two distinct meanings. I believe we should be referring to “on premises” solutions and not “on premise” solutions.

I have no problem with the shortened moniker of “on-prem,” but “on premise” is just plain wrong unless you are referring a premise of operation. For example, “We bought a hosted solution on the premise that it would be a lower total cost of ownership.”

It seems I am not alone as I found this reference written in 2009.


10 thoughts on “For the record, it is “on premises”

  1. Ed – I’ve already tweeted this but will post here as well.

    It’s a new usage for an existing word like “tweet” or “cloud”. Sure, in this case, there was already a perfectly acceptable phrase that means the same thing (“on premises”) but … some genius decided to drop that extra “s”.

    In the anything goes English (American) language, it is acceptable. Like verb-ing nouns and noun-ing verbs, it’s all good in the hood.

    I prefer “on site” but, as you stated, the industry has adopted “on premise” as the chosen term.

  2. I agree with Ed. If Webster has that type of error, I would replace it with an Oxford. I use the word Premise often in my work, and its different than Premises. Sage also needs a technical writer.

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