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‘On Behalf of’ or ‘In Behalf of?’

Quick, which is correct, ‘on behalf of’ or ‘in behalf of?’

Technically, both are correct. It is in the usage, however, that people often get confused.

The word ‘behalf’ is a noun that can mean either of two things.

First, it can mean an ‘agent,’ ‘stead,’ ‘lieu,’ ‘place,’ or ‘position.’ The usage of the word behalf can be ‘as an agent of,’ in somebody’s stead, ‘in lieu of’ or in ‘somebody’s place or position.’

It is when behalf is used to mean any of these that the preposition ON is correct.

Hence, a director accepting an award as a representative of the whole film production company says, “On behalf of the producers, actors and crew…”

Or, if the director himself cannot make it to the awards ceremonies and sends the assistant director to represent him, the assistant director can say, “On behalf of the director…”

The other meaning of the word behalf is ‘sake,’ ‘interest,’ ‘benefit,’ or ‘welfare.’

When used to mean this, then the correct preposition to use with the word behalf is IN.

For instance, if a corporate lawyer agrees to a deal that will be of benefit to a client, then it can be said that ‘he agreed to a deal in behalf of his client.’

Or, a friend may say a good word to a person that may push a suitor’s standing before the person’s eyes, then the friend ‘says a good word in the suitor’s behalf.’

That’s it! Funny old language this thing called English!