Wednesday, May 1, 2013

"Going forward"

There are a number of phrases which add nothing to the meaning of a sentence but are frequently used by commentators on the business and/or economic scene. Their purpose appears to be socioeconomic: they indicate that the speaker or writer wishes to appear an authoritative expert, worth many times the salary of a comparable academic or a mere member of the public with a similar opinion.

One of these that I find particularly irritating is "going forward". The speaker/writer invariably inserts this in a sentence that already contains a future tense, for example "price increases will decelerate going forward", so the phrase is clearly redundant.

Next time you hear/read a sentence containing "going forward", ask yourself if the same sentence would make sense if the phrase were to be replaced by "going backward", perhaps accompanied by the past tense.

If you are still not cured, just try the sentence without those two words. Is there is any difference? Of course not.

This note will have served its purpose if even one person stops using this meaningless formula.

This comment first appeared on the Chinability Blog ( in November 2011.

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