Wordwatch Towers

A plain language guide to punctuation, grammar and writing well.

Forgoing or foregoing?

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English: Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt at the C...

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Angelina and Brad are suing the British newspaper News of the World for alleging that they plan to separate. Look at this related quote spotted on various websites covering the story:

“I have had no contact from … Angelina Jolie and/or Brad Pitt,” Trope wrote, according to a letter sent to the couple’s lawyers and partially quoted in Schillings’ statement. “I have never met … your clients or had any involvement with either of them. The forgoing is true with respect to all other members of this firm.”

That ‘forgoing’ should be ‘foregoing’. This is because ‘foregoing’ means ‘previously mentioned’ or ‘preceding’. See Oxford Dictionaries.

The way to remember the spelling of ‘foregoing’  is to think of  ‘as mentioned before‘.

 So how did the separation rumours start? Sorry, I meant to say, so is ‘forgoing’ a word?

Yes, it is, and it means ‘going without’, for example:

She is forgoing dessert to ensure she gets home on time.

A slight complication…

I hate to tell you this, but  ‘forgo’, meaning ‘to go without’, can also be spelt ‘forego’. See Oxford Dictionaries.

However, ‘forego’, meaning ‘previously mentioned’ cannot be spelt ‘forgo’. (As I was explaining before.)

Commonly confused and just plain wrong

Spelling tips


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8 Responses

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  1. As always, I appreciate your witty and interesting explanations, Deborah! And BTW, this rumor is — again — all over the U.S. rags, as well.

    Maggie Manning

    09/02/2010 at 3:17 pm

    • Thanks, Maggie, it’s really kind of you to take the time to say so.


      09/02/2010 at 3:23 pm

  2. Ha! I didn’t realize that “forego” was an acceptable alternative spelling. English is a minefield…

    I love the past tense of “forgo,” just because it causes such eye-rolling when you use it: “forwent.” Here’s an example: “I’m not going to say never to anything,” said Moulton Patterson, who forwent a bid for reelection. (L.A. Times)

    The past participles are “forgone” and “foregone.” You see the latter a lot in “foregone conclusion,” i.e., everyone knew the answer before the question was even posed.

    Michael Farrell

    09/02/2010 at 4:13 pm

  3. I had to construct a paragraph yesterday with one “forgoing” and two “foregoings.” My head was spinning but I think I got it right.

    I just thought of this memory aid for “foregoing”: To forecast (the weather) means to predict the future. The forecast comes before the event.

    (And in the “just because” category, a weather forecast in Sp. is “prognóstico.” I love that. :))

    Michael Farrell

    06/03/2010 at 5:24 pm

    • Thanks, Michael — that’s a good tip.

      Er — are you absolutely sure you had to construct a paragraph with one forgoing and two foregoings?


      06/03/2010 at 5:44 pm

      • Was the foregoing meant to be sarcastic? *flouncing out of room*

        Michael Farrell

        06/03/2010 at 5:51 pm

  4. Very amusing, interesting and informative, Deborah! The English language is a minefield…or should I say a mind field?


    19/01/2012 at 9:23 pm

    • Hi, there! It’s lovely to see you here and you are very welcome; thanks very much for your comment. I really like ‘mind field’; that’s very apt when it comes to the English language!


      20/01/2012 at 12:07 am

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