Yesterday at work I couldn’t decide which preposition goes with initiative – is it ‘at the initiative of’ or ‘on the initiative of’? The BBI Dictionary of English Word Combinations didn’t have an entry for initiative, so I was left at the mercy of Google. Here were the search results:

‘At the initiative of’ = 411,000 hits
‘On the initiative of’ = 496,000 hits

Although this might seem conclusive, there were still a lot of hits for both, so I still had no clear answer. Also, my personal preference was for at, and these results didn’t support my opinion. Thinking further, I thought that my preference might be some weird Australian thing (for example, no self-respecting Australian would ever write in respect of, but British journalists seem to use it like there’s no tomorrow), which called for more research. Here are the UK site results for at and on:

at = 548 hits
on= 560 hits

A mere hair’s breadth, but still more results for on. And now the Australian sites:

at = 10,900 hits
on= 9,420 hits

I rest my case. I used on.

Quote of the day:

You see Brent, that is the sign of true music – it hides its artifice behind a screen of beauty.”
– John Weretka


1 Response to “Initiative”

  1. 1 Ginger
    4 April, 2008 at 11:34 am

    Thanks for sharing this! Now we don’t feel so bad about getting it wrong as it looks like there’s no clear answer!

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