“Claiming To Be” and “Stating That”
Recently I’ve noticed the phrase “stating to be” in contexts that call for either “claiming to be” or “stating that.” For example:
This Buffalo, NY church has a plaque stating to be a nuclear weapon free zone.
Should you be approached by any persons stating to be appointed agency/representative of Qatar Airways, they should be considered as fraudulent.
Be suspicious of emails stating to be from a financial institution, government agency, or anyone requesting account information, account verification, or banking access credentials.
The meaning of to state in these contexts is “to declare in words; to represent a matter.”
Used with this meaning, the participle stating usually introduces a noun clause, not an infinitive, as in this example.
The scam is usually introduced by a letter stating that the writer has access to huge sums of government money ranging from $25 million to $80 million.
The example about the plaque can be rewritten this way:
This Buffalo, NY church has a plaque stating that the church is a nuclear- weapon-free zone.
The verb claim, on the other hand, is often followed by an infinitive, as in these examples:
The punishment for an individual falsely claiming to be a broker or salesperson is a fine of up to $20,000 or imprisonment up to six months, or both.
A street firm employee claiming to know about the trades volunteered information to the SEC New. York office.
Before the pilot program the District paid ditchriders overtime, although claiming to believe that their work qualified for the irrigation exemption.
The verb claim is used with different meanings, but in the context of an assertion about credentials, knowledge, or belief, it conveys a connotation of dubiousness.
The other two examples given at the beginning of this post can be improved by changing stating to claiming:
Should you be approached by any persons claiming to be appointed agency/representative of Qatar Airways, they should be considered as fraudulent.
Be suspicious of emails claiming to be from a financial institution, government agency, or anyone requesting account information, account verification, or banking access credentials.
At present, the odd construction “stating to be” brings up only 332,000 search results compared to 14,200,000 for “claiming to be” and 40,200,000 for “stating that.” However, a search limited to specific years indicates that “stating to be” has been rising in frequency on the Web since 1990.
Bottom line: Generally speaking, claim and state are synonyms, but synonyms are not always interchangeable. Connotation matters, as does syntax. In the context of fraud, the phrase “claiming to be” is the better choice.
When a Synonym Isn’t
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