Preposition Mistakes #3: Two Idioms

By Maeve Maddox

in my defense/to my defense

Note: defense (US) defence (Br.)

When speakers wish to excuse or justify something they have done, they often use the expression “in my defense.” For example, “Yes, I hit the mailbox while parking the car, but in my defense, I haven’t slept for the past 48 hours.”

An error I’ve begun to notice is the use of “to my defense” in contexts that call for “in my defense”:

Incorrect: I triumphed in the fact that I used NPR to my defense.
Correct : I triumphed in the fact that I used NPR in my defense.

Incorrect: To my defense, I told my friend that I have my own quota of worries.
Correct : In my defense, I told my friend that I have my own quota of worries.

The phrase “to my defense” is appropriate in other contexts:

My mother jumped to my defense, scolding my son for his disrespectful words. 

When my brother and sisters saw what I’d done, they began chastising me, but my grandmother quickly came to my defence.

critical of/critical to

The expression “to be critical of” is often used with the meaning “to find fault with”:

CIA boss critical of some tactics in detainee interrogations. 

My wife is endlessly critical of everyone and everything.

The error I’ve noticed is replacing of with to:

Incorrect: Have you ever watched your negative thoughts while being angry? If you did, then most probably you already noticed that you were critical to everyone and to everything. 
Correct : Have you ever watched your negative thoughts while being angry? If you did, then most probably you already noticed that you were critical of everyone and of everything. 

Incorrect: Having heard so many good things about this movie probably made me more critical to everything about it.
Correct : Having heard so many good things about this movie probably made me more critical of everything about it.

The phrase “critical to” means “essential to”:

Her experience as a congressional spouse was critical to her later success.

A clearer security arrangement between Gulf countries and the United States is critical to fighting terrorism.

Click here to get access to 800+ interactive grammar exercises!


Share


1 Response to “Preposition Mistakes #3: Two Idioms”

  • Harold Webb

    I wasn’t aware of such a difference in using well-known words. I am reading your blog not for a long time, but the things what you are writing about are amazing!

Leave a comment: