prefer a charge

Henry~

Senior Member
HK
I have made a sentence, but I'm not sure whether it is wrong:
Owing to his careless drive, the court now prefers a charge with the careless motorist.
 
  • tepatria

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Charges are laid by the police, not the courts. The court may impose a fine. So your sentence could read "The police charged the motorist with careless driving." or "The court fined the motorist for careless driving."
     

    Henry~

    Senior Member
    HK
    thank you,
    but can we use prefer a charge with? I have checked the dictationary, it says it means make an accusation.
    Here:
    The police prefer a charge with the motorist with careless driving.
    Is it not appropriate or something?
    And I am not sure can I use owing to in this sentence, is it more suitable to use with?
    The police prefer a charge with the motorist owing to careless driving.
     

    tepatria

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    We do not use prefer a charge in everyday English. Perhaps it is used in other parts of the world. If you want to use prefer in your sentence it would read "The police preferred a charge against the motorist for careless driving."
    If you want to use owing in your sentence you could say "The police preferred a charge against the motorist owing to his/her careless driving."
     

    Trinibeens

    Senior Member
    NYC
    U.S. English
    thank you,
    but can we use prefer a charge with? I have checked the dictationary, it says it means make an accusation.
    Here:
    The police prefer a charge with the motorist with careless driving.
    Is it not appropriate or something?
    And I am not sure can I use owing to in this sentence, is it more suitable to use with?
    The police prefer a charge with the motorist owing to careless driving.

    There are a few problems. "Prefer" is used when comparing one thing to another. What is the other choice the police have? A warning? A different type of charge?

    "A" charge (noun) doesn't seem to fit in this sentence, but it depends what you're trying to say. If you want to say that instead of just issuing a warning, the police want to go further and charge the motorist, you would say:

    "The police prefer to charge the motorist rather than issue a warning, owing to his careless driving."

    The noun would be used if the police prefer one type of charge compared to another type of charge:

    "The police prefer a charge of reckless driving rather than failure to stop at a stop sign, owing to the motorist's careless driving."
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Trinibeens, Henry~ is using "prefer" in the sense of 'bring or lay a charge against someone' (meaning 5 in this definition).

    Henry~, for some reason I can't explain, "prefer charges" is more common than "prefer a charge"; though even then it is still quite formal.

    I like tepatria's suggestion: "The police charged the motorist with careless driving".

    Loob
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    Trinibeens, Henry~ is using "prefer" in the sense of 'bring or lay a charge against someone' (meaning 5 in this definition).

    Henry~, for some reason I can't explain, "prefer charges" is more common than "prefer a charge"; though even then it is still quite formal.

    I like tepatria's suggestion: "The police charged the motorist with careless driving".

    Loob

    This meaning is not unknown in AE but is mostly found in police reports, legal documents and newspaper accounts of a crime, in my experience. One can "prefer charges", "bring charges" or even "press charges" against someone.

    As Loob said, it is very formal to use "prefer charges."

    One other note: as Loob said, I can only remember seeing "prefer(red) charges", not "prefer(red) a charge." It's used when the charges are either private or unspecified. If the charges are known it's more common to see "the police charged him with ".
     

    Trinibeens

    Senior Member
    NYC
    U.S. English
    Trinibeens, Henry~ is using "prefer" in the sense of 'bring or lay a charge against someone' (meaning 5 in this definition).

    Henry~, for some reason I can't explain, "prefer charges" is more common than "prefer a charge"; though even then it is still quite formal.
    Loob

    Thanks for the clarification Loob. :) The term "a charge" was what led to my confusion :confused:. I have never heard "prefer" (as in meaning 5) used with "a charge".

    It's interesting that my dictionary (by no means the authority) lists "prefer charges" as idiomatic. Perhaps it's idiomatic in BE? I don't recall ever hearing the term in the U.S., but I do recall it from British TV.
     

    marquess

    Senior Member
    U.K. English
    Thanks for the clarification Loob. :) The term "a charge" was what led to my confusion :confused:. I have never heard "prefer" (as in meaning 5) used with "a charge".

    It's interesting that my dictionary (by no means the authority) lists "prefer charges" as idiomatic. Perhaps it's idiomatic in BE? I don't recall ever hearing the term in the U.S., but I do recall it from British TV.

    I have heard it many times, but I think the spelling is 'Proffer charges' in BE, perhaps 'prefer' is an AE-spelling?
     

    marquess

    Senior Member
    U.K. English
    Sorry, check again. I corrected the first link.

    OK. I'm outnumbered. However, I take comfort in the facts:
    a) My use also exists.
    b) Some of those are reasonably authoritative users (Newspaper journalists, lawyers etc.)

    I am still inclined to believe 'proffer' is the older, original use of the term, and I am encouraged to see that quite a few of the 'prefer' examples do actually refer to US texts (even though they are from UK pages). I have to admit that enough of them also look like reasonably authoritative users too (police documents - although I guess you don't need a degree in BE to get into the police).
     
    I am still inclined to believe 'proffer' is the older, original use of the term

    Your belief wound then be in error. The original word is the Latin praeferre, which means to bring something before other people, particularly in the sense of to bring something forward for consideration. This went into Norman French as preferrer. It is from this French/Latin word that the legal term (like so many other legal terms) derives.

    As for it being an "old usage", and a British one, we see this in Act III of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, when Decius says:
    Where is Metellus Climber? Let him go
    And presently prefer his suit to Caesar.
     

    bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    "Prefer charges" is an idiom, albeit an uncommon one. "Proffer charges" is an acceptable and understandable phrasing--though I would warn that "proffer" could seem ostentatiously erudite.

    Note that generally a court does not press or prefer charges; as far as I know, it is generally a public prosecutor (or a victim?) who presses a charge.
     
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